May 7, 2021, will come and go, but it’s going to be a red letter day in the lives of thousands. Major General (Senator) Muhammad Magoro (rtd), a soldier-turned- administrator, business tycoon, politician and elder statesman was born on this day, 80 years ago. To him, and particularly those who have benefitted from his large heart including this author, 80 is not ‘just a number’, but a PIN to the service of his fatherland. Magoro was born on May 7, 1941, in Mahuta, headquarters of Fakai local government area, Zuru Emirate of Kebbi state. He was at Mahuta Junior Primary School from 1950-1953 and Senior Primary School Kontagora from 1954-1956 where he completed his primary education. He was at the prestigious Provincial Secondary School now Government College Bida (GKB) from 1957-1962. This awe-inspiring personality started his voyage into military at the famous GKB in the same class alongside Generals; Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Sani Sami (Emir of Zuru), Muhammad Gado Nasko, Garba Duba, Late Mamman Vatsa and Col. Sani Bello (rtd). Other senior military colleagues of his who passed the same GKB were General M.I.Wushishi Rtd, Late Cols. Ibrahim Taiwo, Garba Musa Dada Paiko and Late Lt. Haruna Auna.In December 1962, he enlisted into Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC), Kaduna. From 1963 to 1965, he was trained at India Military Academy, Ponna; Platoon Weapons Course at School of Infantry India, Physical Education Course at School of Physical Education Maho, India and Mortar Platoon Commanders Course at NMTC Kaduna. The young Magoro was at Junior Staff College, United Kingdom in 1971, Army Command and Staff College, Jaji in 1977 and the prestigious United State Army War College in the Class of 1982 where his final year thesis titled “Command and Contemporary Strategies – Mao-Tse-Tung” which remains a reference point up to date at the United States Army War College. From 1962, when he enlisted into Nigerian Army, he held various commands and positions which include; Platoon and Company Commander at 4th Battalion of Nigeria Army 1964 – 1967 where he fought gallantly in the Nigeria Civil War for the unity of the Country from 1967 – 1968 and Commanding Officer 122 Battalion Nigerian Army 1969-1970.From 1970-1991 he served in the following capacities: Brigade Major, 30 Brigade of Nigerian Army 1970-1972, Commands 4th Brigade Nigerian Army 1972-1973, Commander 3rd Brigade Nigerian Army 1974, Commandant; Army Training School and 1 Division Garrison also in 1974. Appointed Assistant Adjutant General, 1 Division of Nigerian Army 1974-1975, Military Port Commandant, Apapa 1975, Federal Commissioner (Minister) of Transport 1976-1978, Colonel General Staff, 3rd Division of Nigerian Army 1978-1979, Commandant, Brigade of Guards 1979–1981 and Commandant Nigerian Army School of Infantry 1982-1983. In 1984, he was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs and promoted to the rank of a Major General until his retirement from active service of Nigerian Army in 1985. Upon his retirement, President Babangida appointed him as the Chairman of Nigeria Maritime Authority from 1985-1991.General Magoro’s tenure as a Minister of Transport and Minister of Internal Affairs was marked with lots of success which, today remains patents. As the Minister of Transport; Apapa Port was expanded; while Tin Can Island Port, Warri Port, Sapele Port and Calabar Port were built under his leadership. It was also during his tenure as the Minister of Transport, the survey of the nation’s Nautical College (Maritime Academy of Nigeria) in Oron was carried out. He also facilitated the coming of the RITES of Indians who restructured Nigerian Railway. As the Minister of Internal Affairs, In May 1985, he oversaw the exodus of close to a million foreigners from Nigeria with about half of them who had come from Ghana and other West African Countries where they were escaping from the economy collapse of their Country.
He also introduced a policy with opening of offices to screen issuance of Nigerian Passports at the Local Government Levels by providing guidelines. This was because of the challenges with the issuance of Nigerian Passports then. Among the guidelines was that no one can be issued a Nigerian passport until your traditional ruler or your local government chairman identifies you. His journey to boardroom and politics began in 1995 upon retirement from public service when he became Chairman of Ocean and Oil Services Ltd. In 2000, he was appointed chairman of Oando Groups, a petroleum marketing company which was born through the privatization of Unipetrol Nigeria Plc. He successfully led Oando Plc to become a household name and a big player in oil and gas marketing as chairman till July 2011 when he resigned. He was also a director with Fidelity Bank and a director of Veritas Kapital Assurance. General Magoro belongs to the class of hardworking, honest and patriotic Nigerian that is never found wanting of any mal-administration or involved in any corrupt dealing in his military, public, business and political career. In 2007, he contested the primaries for governorship of Kebbi state under Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which he won and given the flag to contest. However, the crossing over of the ANPP governor of Kebbi Ssate changed the situation and he stepped aside. In 2011, he contested for the senatorial seat of Kebbi-South under the umbrella of PDP and won. While at the Senate, his was a service not only to the people of Kebbi-South Senatorial District he represented, but the country as a whole. He was a respected figure and a rallying point during his stays at the National Assembly where he served in different committees. In 2015, he was aspirant for Kebbi state governorship under PDP. He felt aggrieved and succumbed to pressure from his teeming supporters who urge him to join APC which he did. His cross carpeting to APC in Kebbi state contributed to the fortune of APC which won all the offices in 2015 and 2019 general elections. Since 2015 to date, he has remained a leader of the party at both the state and national levels as a member of APC BOT which is yet to be inaugurated. General Magoro left the public service with no qualms, no second-guessing, and no obsessive chase of his place in history. All those that worked and came across him will bear witness that he has paid his dues in his quest to renew our country and restore hope to it. At 80th birthday of this exemplary and remarkable son of Nigeria, we join his family, friends and well wishers on this unique anniversary to salute his selfless commitment to humanity and astonishing accomplishments. He is happily married; blessed with children who are Bilkisu Ismo Magoro PhD; Fatima Magoro, Aishat Magoro, Hadiza Magoro, Abdullahi Magoro; who is the current Commissioner for ICT, Kebbi state, Hauwa Magoro, Zafira Magoro Salisu and Maryam Magoro. May Allah grant Galadiman Zuru many more peaceful blessed years of sound health of body and mind.
Yahaya writes from Jagbele quarters, Muye, Niger state.