By: Mohammad Abdulkadri
It is a thing of joy and a feeling of being special for an individual to be connected in one way or more to the evolutionary history of one’s country.
One of Nigeria’s dignitaries whose birthday coincides with the National Day celebration on October 1st of every year is the Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd).
What a pleasant coincidence and double celebrations for the Defence Minister and his other birthday mates as Nigeria marked her 60th birthday.
Reflecting on our nationhood and the life of an extraordinary soldier who has given his all (with emphasis) —and is still serving diligently —is the very motivation for writing this piece.
Certainly, the intimidating and unblemished pedigrees of service to one’s country, in no small way, define the character and personage of Gen. 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; Gen. Magashi is a product of “Destiny” and a rare gift to Nigeria.
As a school boy 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.
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 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 Brigade; Ibadan; Governor of Sokoto State and Commandant Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA); right down to his current position as Minister of Defence.
Gen. Magashi’s example of a man who shares the same birthday with the country is simply that of impecable 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 Gen. Magashi and Nigeria is indicative of commitment to make Nigeria a better place at all times by exploring the various positions he has served the country to change the narrative.
The General is leading by example in the best way possible to prove that the country deserves the service of all without wavering.
At 71, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi, CFR, remains a quintessential administrator, a symbol of national defence and a man of peace.
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 60, 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 71. 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.
Special Assistant Media and Publicity to Hon Minister of Defence