Barely a week after The Punch newspaper in its editorial on December 11, 2019, said it shall henceforth prefix President Muhammadu Buhari with his military rank of Major-General, his wife has addressed her husband in the same manner.
In her birthday wishes for her husband, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari on her social media handles at about 12.46 am referred to the President twice in the 33-word message as “GMB” which means General Muhammadu Buhari.
Her message as shown in the screenshot read “Happy Birthday to MY incorruptible GMB. I wish you Allah’s Guidance, Protection and Good Health to continue steering the affairs of our dear nation. Long Live GMB. Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria!”
President Buhari has since his inauguration in May 2015 been referred to by his supporters as PMB which means President Muhammadu Buhari. They had before them especially during the 2015 election campaigns referred to him as GMB. The President’s deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is on the other hand often referred to as “PYO” meaning Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
MediaDimensions had reported that “President Buhari Accepts To Be Addressed As Retired Major-General” after the editorial position taken by The Punch newspaper. This followed the reactions of the two media aides to the President, namely the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina and the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The Special Adviser had in his press release titled “Another Testimony to Press Freedom in Nigeria, By Presidency” said there is nothing untoward in addressing the President with the “military rank of Major General… It is a rank the President attained by dint of hard work before he retired from the Nigerian Army. And today, constitutionally, he’s also Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces”.
Meanwhile, the SSA though raised some questions about the said editorial in his press release titled “Punch and Its Sinister Motives for Attacks on President Buhari”, he acknowledged that “Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), for that, is his title, and he was indeed a Major General, but today retired from that position and now twice democratically elected president of Nigeria – is not the choice of Punch Newspaper’s editors and owners, that is clear”.
It will be recalled that it was the initial decision of President Buhari not to be addressed as Major-General at all as he was sworn-in as a democratically elected leader of the country on May 29, 2015. The President had also chosen not to be addressed as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces at non-military functions, programme or publications.
The Punch newspaper had however in its Wednesday’s front-page editorial questioned the country’s human rights and rule of law record under the Buhari administration and likened it to what was obtainable under the military. It, therefore, said henceforth all its titles and publications shall address President Muhammadu Buhari as a retired Major-General and refer to his administration as a regime.
The First Lady in her social media message to celebrate her husband’s 77th Birthday also shared two family photos. One of the photos, as shown in this report, is of herself and the husband. The second photo shows herself, the husband and children posing to cut a cake that appears to bear her picture and the cap worn on academic gowns possibly taken when the First Lady was awarded an honorary doctorate by one of the universities.
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