Does title matter?

When Major General Ibrahim Babangida took over power from Major General Muhammadu Buhari, as the Head of State via a palace coup on August 27, 1985, he said that there was a democratic process by members of the Armed Forces ruling council that nominated him to lead the country, hence, he will like to be addressed as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not Head of State as his contemporaries who took over government via coup were addressed.

And true to his words, he was called President till he left office on August 26, 1993, even after office he is still being addressed as the only military President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Also, when Babangida became President his wife, the late Mariam, created the office of the First Lady of Nigeria and asked to be addressed as first lady of Nigeria.

Prior to that time, the wives of former Nigerian leaders; Late President Shehu Shagari, former Heads of State Yakubu Gowon, Late Muritala Muhammed and Muhammadu Buhari were called wife of the President and Head of State, respectively. Due to her choice, Mariam Babangida used the title of First Lady till she left office in August 1993, even after office, she is still called late former first lady of Nigeria. She indeed created prestige out of the office.

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In 1997 when Alhaji Ado Ibrahim became Ohinoyi of Ebirraland, he asked to be called His Royal Majesty (HRM) and not the usual His Royal Highness (HRH) and 22 years down the line, the title has stuck. Same for Late Biafran warlord, Odimegu Ojukwu who said he should not be called chief anymore because it sounds like thief, instead he preferred the title Dim Odumegu Ojukwu and that’s what he was called till he died in November 2011.

When Governor Babangida Aliyu became Governor of Niger state in 2007, he asked to be addressed as Chief Servant, when Mr Adams Oshiomhole became Governor of Edo state after his success at the tribunal, he demanded to be called the Comrade Governor. In November 2010 when Rauf Aregbesola became Osun state governor, he asked to be called Ogbeni.

In 2015, Pastor Tunde Bakare asked his followers and the public to refrain from calling him the General Overseer but Serving Overseer. Recently, Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state asked not to be called His Excellency anymore, as it is only God the creator that is excellent, he now prefers to be addressed as Mr Governor.

In all these, the title may sound fantastic, outrageous and sometimes humbling but the act of service to the people or customer may be more honourable, fantastic and rewarding.


David Atta,



Nigerian Tribune

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