Updated: February 28, 2021
The title, “Major General”, that The Punch newspaper has chosen to prefix President Muhammadu Buhari’s name in subsequent usage is a matter of honour, perhaps even flattering, and certainly not a slight.
This is the position of the Buhari Media Organization (BMO) which described “Major General” as a rank that President Buhari earned for himself, and which is not available to just anybody.
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The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, stated that the President had earned the title of Major General in the Nigerian Army, being a rank that exemplified years of dedication and commitment to the service of the country and the defence of its sovereignty.
“The rank of Major General is not picked off the shelf. It is earned through dedicated years of service and toil in the nation’s Army. President Muhammadu Buhari put in two decades of service to the Nigerian Army where he rose to become one of its highest ranking officers, and ultimately the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s Armed Forces. So the notion that recalling his rank and prefixing it to his name is a slight falls short of the intention of its proposers. It rather is a full compliment, an adornment, and a
honour that has been rightly earned.
“The President does not shy away from or deny his Military honours. He is proud of his profession and earned honorific.
“Yet, this earned honour has not diminished the democratic principles that the President today respects and shares. He does not just speak it, he acts it. President Buhari has established himself as a true democrat. This is obvious from his interactions with other arms of government and democratic institutions.
“When Nigeria returned to democratic rule, and General Buhari sought to become the country’s President, he joined a political party, traveled across the country and sought votes. He lost three times before his eventual victory the fourth time. And in the three times that he lost, he felt that the elections were rigged, he went to the courts – democratic institutions – and accepted their unfavourable judgments.
“His interactions with other arms of government, giving them their respect is an example as well. For instance, President Buhari, or call him Major General Buhari, has maintained a healthy respect for the National Assembly, even when he was unfortunate to have a hostile leadership in the legislature in his first tenure.
“Not once did he contemplate, or attempt to subvert the leadership of the legislature, like we saw in previous regimes where Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House of Representatives were undemocratically removed where they did not kowtow to a former President.
“President Buhari allowed for the democratic cycle to take its turn, and indeed it did, to flush out the hostility of the 8th Senate, with a people oriented 9th Senate birthed through democratic means.
“However you chose to look at the President, as a former Major General who earned the rank to be so, or a democratically elected two-time President, both adornments tell the worthy story of a man who is leaving an admirable and desirable legacy.”
BMO noted that the President’s desire for institutional strengthening and allowing them to run is a fundamental tenet of a democratic system.
“The President respects democratic institutions. He is not one that would make attempts to interfere in the work of institutions of government. He believes that they must be allowed to run, knowing that if he makes any orders that are inimical to their independence, he would be disrespecting the democratic ideals he vowed to honour.”
The group stated that: The notion that the President would interfere in the work and activities of institutions like the Department of State Services (DSS) is to belittle our democracy. “We must allow our institutions to work. In any case, if any one is not comfortable with their actions, they should take the matter to the courts, the relevant democratic institution for resolving disputes,” the statement added.