By Eric Teniola
WHEN President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, submitted his list of ministers to the Senate on July 23, the nominee on the list most discussed was Major General (retired) Bashir Salibi Magashi. His critics were forced to ask: Why Bring Magashi? While his admirers equally asked: Why Not Magashi?
The 69-year-old retired General was discussed not for his present political role but for his past military role. We are talking in the context of the past role General Magashi had played; but things have changed now and the years must have matured him. Definitely the General Magashi of 1993, I presume, is no longer the General Magashi of 2019. Ageing, it is now clear, is part of maturational process that all our organs go through.
Over a life time everybody changes inwardly as well as outwardly. The mind too changes although the petty pace at which we creep from day to day often keeps most of us unaware of how even during adulthood mental functions continue to evolve as we grow older.
The Nigeria of 1993 is no longer the Nigeria of 2019. There have been developments. I am told General Magashi should have been a minister four years ago. His coming to the cabinet now has two advantages. He is a retired military officer and the only retired military officer in the cabinet and he has to keep the esprit de corps flag flying to his former Commander-in-Chief who happens to be his boss and President now.
Secondly, he has known President Buhari for over 40 years in politics and in the military and that qualifies him to be an automatic member of the President’s inner caucus unlike the new arrivals. General Magashi is lucky in that the service chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff were once under him in rank unlike his predecessor, Brigadier-General Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali (60) from Zamfara State, who was commissioned in 1984 and retired August 30, 2013 before being appointed in November 2105 as Minister of Defence.
At the time Brigadier Dan Ali joined the Army in 1984, General Magashi was already commanding 192 Mechanised Battalion before he became military secretary that year. For example, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai from Buratai village of the 29 Regular Course enrolled in the Nigerian Defence Academy in January 1981. By appointing him Minister of Defence without ministers of state, President Muhammadu Buhari has reposed his full confidence on General Magashi.
All eyes will be on General Magashi. General Magashi is going to be under severe pressure from his colleagues, both serving and retired military officers. There is going to be so much expectation on him.
At present he is a politician. He is from Kano State, the largest political constituency in the country with 44 local governments. Kano has 24 members in the House of Representatives. Like Lagos, Kano State has two ministers, General Magashi and Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono (73) who belongs to many brackets – a farmer, university lecturer, politician and former chief executive of the defunct African International Bank Limited.
In 2002, General Magashi was legal adviser to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. In April 2007, he was Kano State governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP. At that time, President Muhammadu Buhari was of the ANPP.
In the gubernatorial election in April 2007, General Magashi lost to Ibrahim Shekarau who had 10,077,751 votes. The last we heard about Major General Magashi was on March 30, 2015 when he resigned as national chairman of the party and handed over to Chief Garshoon Benson. Before the resignation, he implored members of the DPP nationwide to vote for Major General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC in the presidential election. Let us look at the profile of the General.
Major General Bashir Salibi Magashi was born on October 1, 1949. He is a lawyer and a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria. He holds a national award of CFR. He is married with children. He was educated at Gidan Makama Primary School, Gwale Senior Primary School and Barewa College, Zaria. He attended the Nigerian Defence Academy, Zaria from 1969-1971; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1980-1983; Nigerian Law School, 1983-1984; Young Officers Course, Jaji; Command and Staff College Course 1; Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru; School of Infantry, Quattaj, Pakistan; Humanitarian Law School, Italy, cr: Company Commander, 6 Battalion; Adjutant 1, Guards Battalion; Second-in-Command, 4 Guards Battalion, Epe; Commander, 93 Mechanised Battalion; Commander, 192 Mechanised Battalion; Deputy Military Secretary II, 1984-1985; Deputy Military Secretary I, 1985-1987; Officer, 2 Mechanised Brigade, Ibadan, Oyo State,1987; Cadet Brigade Commander, 1988-1990; Brigade Commander, 7 Brigade, 1990; Military Governor, Sokoto State, 1990-1992; Brigade Commander 15, ECOMOG Brigade, September 1992; Commander, ECOMOG, July 1993; Commander, Brigade of Guards, 1993-1996; General Officer Commanding 2 Mechanised; member of the Provisional Ruling Council, April 1996.