Two of a kind: A nation and its defence minister

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All nations of the world have peculiarities and commonalities in terms of their very rich historical evolutions, their sovereignties and clearly defined geographical entities as well as their human capital assets and Nigeria as a sovereign state is not an exception.

Certain things normally and naturally shape the course of history in the anals of the developed and developing countries including Nigeria.

It is therefore gratifying for an individual to be historically linked and connected in one way or more to the very important milestone records and dates in the chequered events in the life of one’s country.

That is the untold story of the Honourable Minister of Defence, Major General  Bashir Salihi Magashi, CON, CFR ( rtd)

One of Nigeria’s distinguished Generals, Heroes and elder statesman whose birthday coincides with the National Day Anniversary celebration on October 1st of every year is the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd).

Certainly, the intimidating and unblemished pedigree of service to one’s country, in no small way, define the character and personage of General Magashi. Thus one is convinced that it is not by happenstance that he shares the same birthday with Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.

Born on October 1st 1949, precisely 11 years  before the nation got her independence on October 1st, 1960, General Magashi is a product of “Destiny” and a rare gift to Nigeria. He loves Nigeria with consummating patriotic passion and always putting the Country  first in all his undertakings.

As a schoolboy at independence, the young Magashi was among the children who lined the streets holding the national flag and chanting “Nigerian we hail thee” on October 1, 1960. Unknown to him then, providence was symbolically preparing him for a role in the nation’s defence and security architecture. The former Military  Governor of Sokoto state between 1992 and 1993 played a dominant role at various stages in shaping the course of  history not only in the Nation’s Military Sector but also at Regional level ever since he graduated from NDA in 1975. As a fine gentleman officer who never compromised the ethics and ethos of the  military professionalism he had a good career in service to the nation. His unwavering absolute loyalty, integrity and hardwork made his marks on the sands of time a lasting impression for history to judge him right forever in the anals  of the Country.

As a product of the famous Barewa College, Zaria, Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA (RC 5), National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru; and a Law graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria,his wide academic horizon and professional training fired his nationalist and patriotic zeal to render selfless service to the country.

Hence in 1968 he enlisted in the military and served meritoriously at various commands, brigades and battalions. History favoured, the man of history who fought the nation’s Civil War to defend her territorial integrity; served as Brigade Commander, 15 ECOMOG; GOC 2 Mechanised how Brigade; Ibadan; Governor of Sokoto State and Commandant Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA); right down to his current position as Minister of Defence.

General Magashi’s example of a man who shares the same birthday with the country is simply that of impeccable service to the country. His love for Nigeria is legendary and his humility as well as his simplicity distinguish him as a brand for upcoming Nigerians to emulate in the task of building a virile nation.

The historical connect in the birthday of General Magashi and Nigeria is a study in two of  a kind joined together by fate. A fate that is designed beyond human comprehension, manipulation and calculations. This therefore implies that the date, day and year of one’s  birth can’t  be influenced by a mere mortal. That Magashi was born on October first and 8th in his family record was not by choice nor his making but that of the supreme  author and finisher of our fate, Almighty Allah. It therefore stands to reason that the coincidence in his date of birth and the National independence day is best known to God. It will not be out place to say that such coincidence is imperatively significant and its important can be juxtaposed side by side with what is playing out in the life of Magashi and  his role in the chequered  history of our dear country, Nigeria. It also explains in clearer  terms and understanding  why the personality in focus has consummating and intimidating track records of outstanding performance in and out of the Military  constituency. The elder statesman  opined that he sees his sharing the same birthday with Nigeria as source of immensely endless inspiration and as a propellant to remain  standing for the non-negotiable and uncompromising course of indivisible entity and territorial integrity of Nigeria.  One cannot expect less from a great Nigerian and birthday mate of the national independence anniversary whose callings and trainings at home and abroad  are geared towards moulding and making him  and his peers to be nationalistic in all their public and private life endeavours. If I may ask, why would he deviate from the ideals and ideas of the principles and philosophy of uprightness, dutifulness, doggedness and diligence in service to his father- land which have rubbed on him for decades? The no- nonsense general’s dispositions are indicative of avowed commitment to make Nigeria a better place at all times by holding as trust the various positions he has occupied in the country with a view to changing the narrative.

In his own assessment of General Magashi the Secretary of the  NDA Regular Course 5, Major  General Anthony Alidu Majali (rtd) described him as a typical Infantry Officer, a dedicated, detribalised, and committed Nigerian who is ever willing to give his best in service to the country and humanity.  General Majali said Magashi is a distinguished  Nigerian who took active part in ECOMOG and has been a helpful course mates who is  imbued with sufficient milk of human kindness. He also described him as a straight forward  person and ever blunt on any matter of public and inter-personal concerns without minding whose horse is gored.  More importantly, the retired General said he is indebted to him for his messianic role in safeguarding his career at a most critical and challenging time when he was to be retired at the rank of a Colonel. While wishing him more glorious years in service to the nation, he said unlike some officers who uphold the view that course mates ends in the academy, General Magashi believes course mate solidarity is forever and he is justifying this believe by rendering monetary, material and moral supports to members of the NDA RC 5 as occasions demand.

The General who is well skilled in inter- personal relation, Civil-military relation matrix and governmental affairs is an incorruptible public servant leading by example in the best way possible to prove that the country deserves the very best in service without wavering. As a matter of verifiable fact Magashi is imbued with insatiably and incurable desire of thinking always of what he can do for his beloved County and not vice versa in this age and race for unpatriotic desire of some unscrupulous Nigerians milking the cash cow of the country dry. Some of the attributes well known about him as public servant are confidence, candour and  composure of a well oiled administrative sagacity laced with respect for probity, integrity and accountability that define the uniqueness of a character who shares a date in history with Nigerian independence.

At 72, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi, CFR, remains a quintessential administrator, a die-hard pan-Nigerian, a stickler to rules and regulations, a detribalised Nigerian, a workaholic, a symbol of national defence and a man of peace.

As Minister of Defence,he has emplaced under his watch a robust mechanism and activism to enhance inter- ministerial, inter- services and inter- agencies collaboration in making a difference in addressing the National Security concerns. In his own words in an interview session he said ‘” we have built  a synergy  and proper coordination among Services and agencies as well as raised the bars of competences and capabilities of the Fighting Forces for the attainments of the end state of entrenching a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria under President  Muhammadu Buhari””.

The Kano born general is by choice and as a matter of patriotism, silent on his birthday while thinking, talking and giving more to the celebration of nationhood than celebrating self. A disposition that has shown to all around him that elaborate birthday celebrations are ruled out for prayers annually. Happy birthday Nigeria and happy birthday to General  Magashi.

As the global Community celebrate Nigeria at 61, Nigerians and indeed humanity at large celebrate one of the Nation’s best human capital assets and a democrat par excellence, General Magashi, mni at 72. Happy birthday Nigeria and happy birthday to an unblemished, uncommon and unassuming leader who symbolises two of a kind with Nigeria, General Bashir Salihi Magashi.

Muhammed Abdulkadri

Special Assistant Media and Publicity to Hon Minister of Defence

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