The Presidency, on Wednesday, December 11; launched a scathing counter-criticism on The Punch Newspaper’s editorial accusing the medium of trying to foment trouble within the polity.
In a statement issued by the Presidency via its spokesman, Garba Shehu; he described the decision of the newspaper to add the prefix ‘Major-General’ to the president as “self-evident.”
Earlier on Wednesday, The Punch Newspaper adopted a new editorial policy; revealing it will henceforth, prefix President Muhammadu Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s in all its publications.
This is in protest against the rising disregard for the rule of law by his administration.
In an editorial entitled ‘Buhari’s lawlessness: Our stand’, on Wednesday, the newspaper said it will also tag the President’s administration as a regime; until it purges itself of ”contempt for the rule of law”.
However, the Presidency explained that the editorial stance of the newspaper; to uphold the rights to holding and exercising the right of free speech; and freedom of the press is a testimony to the prevalence of the freedom of the press and expression in the country.
“In countries around the world where this right does not exist; newspapers do not publish articles such as the one Punch did today; nor do they get to express political opinions contrary to that of government.
“The exact freedoms Punch claims are missing is self-evident here; in print, on the internet, for all Nigerians and the whole world to see.
“There is nothing wrong with expressing contrary opinions to this government; nor being in opposition to the president: this is the right of every Nigerian,” Shehu said.
He further lamented the partisan politics being played by the newspaper which has nothing to do with journalism; adding that it is unprecedented and crude in the political age of the country.
“Calling for the armed overthrow of the democratically elected administration is a different matter entirely; this Punch has in no way done; but others who they seek to defend, have.
“There is a difference. Punch: oppose the government as much as you want to. We welcome your contribution to the debate.
“But we ask you not to throw insults at the good voters of Nigeria for not agreeing to your choice at the last election. Oppose in good humour: for that is the mark of the true democrat; that which you purport to be.”
The Presidency, therefore, charged the newspaper to sieve the chaff from the grain; advancing that the stance taken by it is purely political capable of destabilising the country.
“The Punch newspaper should separate journalism from partisan politics. What it is embarking upon is purely political; and it is designed to play to the gallery and cause confusion.
“Punch Newspaper’s double standards in cuddling some of our past dictators; and their open contempt for President Buhari clearly show that the paper has sinister motives for its current curious editorial judgment.
“Its personal hatred towards President Buhari should not be allowed to becloud its good judgment,” he added