Governor Aregbesola of Osun State, doesn't like to be addressed as 'Your Excellency'. If you really want to annoy him, try it.
I think I was the first journalist to address the governor as ‘Your Excellency’ before putting my question across.
I thought I was being respectful. Which State governor doesn’t like to be addressed as ‘Your Excellency’? Which Nigerian public official or ‘big man’ doesn’t want to be addressed as ‘Your Excellency’?
I think I saw Aregbesola recoil or wince when I called him that. I think I saw him go all red in the face or something. I am not so sure now. But I immediately knew he didn’t like it. That he didn’t enjoy being called ‘Your Excellency’.
The date was June 13, 2018 and I was among a handful of journalists invited for this question and answer session with Aregbesola. After everyone had thrown in their questions and the governor had done a good job of answering them all, he got hold of the microphone to set the records straight over the entire ‘Your Excellency’ business.
At least five of us were guilty.
“I want to address something very important especially for those of you who are still young and who may likely end up in politics. I have listened in pain as some of you here have addressed me as 'Your Excellency'. Do not call people in public office "Your Excellency" or "Executive Governor". Where in the constitution is that written? We should stop regaling people in public office with all these titles. It only makes them mad”, Aregbesola lectured. He had his eyes on me the entire time because I was officially the first offender.
“Only God should be called ‘Your Excellency’ or Honorable. No other person deserves to be called by those titles. You all need to stop it because calling people in public office ‘Your Excellency’ makes them arrogant. And there’s nothing more dangerous than an arrogant person in power”, Governor Aregbesola said.
We were not the only offenders on this cloudy day in Osun. Afterwards, one of Aregbesola’s Commissioners who wanted to throw in a contribution of his, introduced himself as ‘Honorable’. It turns out that this Commissioner introduced himself in that manner because he’s seeking legislative office in the forthcoming elections.
Governor Aregbesola made a mental note of that moment when a member of his team made the same mistake, and made sure to address it as well when he got hold of the microphone, although this time through bouts of laughter.
As we made to hop into the car for the journey back to Lagos, I asked an aide of the governor how Aregbesola prefers to be addressed. “He likes to be called Ogbeni Aregbesola or Mr. Governor. When we started working with him, he always told us not to call him Your Excellency. He can’t stand the title. He really can’t”.
It is little wonder 'Omoluabi' (gentleman) has become the buzz title around Osun.