Portrait of enigmatic, charismatic General Magashi with Nigerian heart
…..As General of Generals turns 74…
By: Mohammad Abdulkadri
The inseparability between the births of Nigeria’s Nationhood and one of her Foremost Nigerian Senior Military Officers, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi,(Rtd), CFR can’t be glossed over nor ignored every October 1st of every year.
While Nigeria got her independence on 1st October 1960 and marks her 63rd Anniversary today Sunday, the man of shared destiny with his country and patriot General Magashi marks 74th birthday, born on 1st October 1949.
The focus of this piece is not to dwell nor dig too much into the albeit co-terminus in the date of births of Nigeria’s Nationhood and all times distinguished patriotic Nigerian General Magashi. Rather readers are left to conjure up the rest as they read in between the lines the portrait of the 74-year-old patriotic Magashi’s effects in nation-building.
At 74, the exemplary life and enviable good name of Magashi is well known synonymously with service and sacrifice in the nooks and crannies of the country’s Public and Private sectors. Little wonder then that his over seven decades of milestone achievements will remain a reference point for the present and future generations.
Quintessential Magashi has, therefore, deservedly joined the “League of Most Senior Global Citizen” (LMSGC) whose impactful, successful and resourceful top-notch Leadership are highly referred, rated and respected. He has the painstaking pedigree for tirelessly raising the bar of patriotic public service in building a virile nation for the new generations of public servants.
This great indefatigable unassuming and simplicity personified Nigerian is also reputed to have produced high numbers of disciplines through sustained systematic succesional mechanisms. His visionary and revolutionary leadership style yielded expectant results beyond measures in improving the needed quality manpower in the nation’s defence and security sectors. No doubt he achieved this feat through exceptional dint of hard work and an extraordinary display of the Almighty God-inspired spirit of messianic mentorship.
Hate him or love him, the fact remains that this humble, humane and urbane principled character nurtured and tutored many within the Military landscape that he is fondly called the ‘General of Generals”. If you’re doubting this assertion, ask the Former Chiefs of Army Staff Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, Lt General Farouk Yahaya as well as the former Commandant Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) Maj General IM Yusuf and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Maj General EAP Undiandeye.
Undisputably Magashi bestrode like a colossus the Nigerian Military as an Infantry General in the NDA hall of Fame of the 5th Combatant Regular Course from 1968 to 1971.
Donning the gab of Civilian Babanriga, at the advent of democratic rule in 1999 which coincided with his pulling off of his uniform in retirement as Commandant NDA, the man with a penchant for hard work and Midas touch for excellence patriotically gave as much to the nation in the Military, as he did as a politician with equal propensities of passion and patriotism.
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He defied all temptations to romance other career paths by showing uncommon traits of leadership and soldiering in him at Barewa College which deservedly earned him a pet name of “General” among his classmates.
Little wonder then that the morning shows the day as the future revealed positively what it had in stock for the little Magashi. Therefore, it was indeed “Fate accompli” for the young Magashi in 1968 as he was enrolled in the Institution of Generalship, NDA that groomed him to rise through the ranks to become a well-celebrated, dedicated and decorated Two Star General in the Nigerian Army.
Within the precincts of the Nation’s Military Sector cum the Regional and Global Peace and Security Compass Magashi acquired unblemished dazzling visibility in rendering first-class performance of duty in active service to the nation.
From humble beginning as Platoon Commander and Company Commander at the 6 Infantry Battalion to Adjutant 1st Guards Battalion and later Commander of the 4 Guards Battalion, Epe Lagos the young Officer displayed uncommon tenacity, sagacity, capacity and Professionalism in service to fatherland.
The Magashi effects in the Nigerian Army broke the tripartite Guinness Book of Records in the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA Kaduna. First as an outstanding Cadet, Second as Cadets Brigade Commander (CBC) in 1988 – 1990 and thirdly, eight years after, precisely in June 1998 he returned to occupy the driver’s seat as the Commandant in the same Institution.
Earlier his glorious and meritorious exemplary tour of duty had taken him round the gamut of Military Command appointments. This was in tandem with the proverbial maxim of “the reward for hard work is more work” The workaholic General left his soldier footprints on the sands of time as Commander 15 Brigade of the ECOMOG Monitoring Group, in 1992 in Liberia before Commanding the Nigerian Contingent to Liberia ECOMOG Force in 1993.
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Records of activism, patriotism and Professionalism exhibited in service to the nation he loved passionately as a birthday mate will be incomplete without reference to his appointments as Governor of Sokoto State under the then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, 1990 -1992. Also as Commander Guards Brigade, Abuja 1993 -1996, as General Officer Commanding 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Ibadan and as an enviable and notable Member of the Highest Military body, Provisional Ruling Council under the Late Military Head of State General Sani Abacha from 1996 to 1999 are well documented.
If you ask me, definitely, it was not easy – breezy for the Law graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria who was called to the Bar in 1984 to successfully navigate the tough terrains of a Military Career to attain the rank of General. As an exemplar he did. A reminder of the adage that says; “Tough times don’t last but Tough People do”.
The Lawyer-General Magashi also proved the doubting Thomases and the bookmakers who are proponents of the views that retired Military Officers are apologetic in exhibiting sufficient attributes of democrats in politics. As a politician, Magashi who graduated in International law in Italy and bagged membership of the Humanitarian Lawyers emerged in 2002 as the Legal Adviser of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. Later in 2007, the Political tactician general became the Standard bearer in the Kano State Governorship race for the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP and later emerged as the National Chairman of the same Political Party.
It was not rocket science that the retired but not tired General Magashi was appointed Minister of Defence in August 2019 by former President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
An appointment described as “a round peg in a round hole” by Nigerians.
On his part Magashi who took up the appointment imbued with the fear of God and with utmost sense of duty and humility with a pietistic mien said during his first meeting with his 7- man Civilian appointees aides including this writer as Special Assistant on Media and Publicity and I quote ;
“It Pleases Almighty Allah to spare our lives to be so appointed in a position of trust as Nigeria’s Minister of Defence to which we cannot afford to disappoint Mr President nor betray Nigerians’ trust because we will render an account of our stewardship in this life and the hereafter to God”
That statement by an elder stateman who totally abstained and abhorred unbridled aggrandizement of public wealth and amazement of property with Zero tolerance to corruption walked the talk in four years of selfless service as a respected frontline member of the Federal Executive Council.
As Minister he placed “Operational jointness” among Tri-Services in tackling insecurity. He also secured Presidential approval for the release of funds for the payments of the Security Debarement Allowance, SDA, instituted the Reforms of the Military and the Ministry as well as pursued with vigour and Valour improved funding and enhanced capabilities of the Armed Forces through the acquisition of needed platforms. The Minister with a clear Mission and Vision also entrenched Training and retraining of Military personnel and Officers as well as Civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence.
The amiable and most friendly workers Minister who aggressively promoted industrial harmony, bagged the award of “Comrade” conferred on him by the leadership of the Joint Labour Unions in the Ministry.
The end of President Buhari’s administration in May 29 2023 brought to an end, the successful tenure of his four-year ministership and his eventually remarkable voluntary retirement from holding any political appointment in what is regarded as “quitting the stage when the ovation is loudest”.
Major General Bashir Saluhi Magashi, (rtd), CFR, whose awards include Forces Service Star, FSS, Meritorious Service Star, MSS and Distinguished Service Star, DSS was also decorated with ECOMOG Medal and Silver Jubilee Medal.
The Kano-born General meant many different things to many diverse people depending on which side of the divide you’re standing. A detrabized and liberal Nigerian who exudes Nigerianess at all times is an unrelenting advocate of the nation’s unity in diversity who believes in one indivisible Nigeria is, to say the least an institution.
In Administration, he could be regarded as a professor who has excellent oratory skills, gargantuan knowledge, a deep sea of wisdom and compassion for others.
The gallant award-winning General is a Trailblazer, a game changer, a bridge builder and a Friend of all irrespective of political ideology and religious differences.
Despite the unwarranted rumour of his death in June this year, precisely one month after his memorable tour of duty as Minister the Infantry General is still waxing strong in dispensing favour to the less privileged and stable health-wise as he retired to a deserving private life in Nigeria without divorcing his first love, Nigeria to “Japa” like other Nigerians.
A true Nigerian with a golden heart, mind, body and soul is inseparable from Nigeria as he remains a leading light god-fathering, moulding and mentoring behind-the-scenes younger generations of Nigerians. In all, humorous and generous General Magashi is a devoted Muslim, a community man and a wonderful family man.
Happy 63rd Independence Anniversary Nigeria.!!!!!
Happy 74th birthday birthday Major General BS Magashi (rtd) CFR.
Long live Nigeria !!!!!
Long live General
Abdulkadri, Media aide to General Bashir Magashi, writes from Abuja