By Eric Teniola
On April 22 this year, the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (71) (rtd) was on the spot. He told State House correspondents that “Nigeria is bleeding”. During the media chat, he informed us all that he has been a lawyer for the past thirty-four years. I guess the country knows him more as a general than a legal practitioner. To bleed is simply a blood loss, you must have been wounded before you can bleed. “Make no mistakes that our nation is bleeding now”. Major- General Magashi declared.
Wikipedia described Bleeding, also known as a haemorrhage, or simply blood loss is blood escaping from the circulatory system from damaged blood vessels. Bleeding can occur internally, or externally either through a natural opening such as the mouth, nose, ear, urethra, vagina or anus or through a wound in the skin. Hypovolemia is a massive decrease in blood volume, and death by excessive loss of blood is referred to as exsanguination. Typically, a healthy person can endure a loss of 10–15% of the total blood volume without serious medical difficulties (by comparison, blood donation typically takes 8–10% of the donor’s blood volume). According to Wikipedia, the stopping or controlling of bleeding is called hemostasis and is an important part of both first aid and surgery.
On February 18 this year, the same General Magashi told defenceless Nigerians to defend themselves and appealed to them not to be cowards. While wondering why people were ‘running from minor things,’ referring to attacks by bandits, he said that victims of banditry should resist such attacks and signal to the criminals that “even the villagers have the competency and capability to defend themselves.” He added that the bandits would sometimes carry only a few rounds of ammunition. “Is it the responsibility of the military alone? It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards,” the minister told reporters. “At times, the bandits will only come with three rounds of ammunition. When they fire shots, everybody runs. In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us”.
Leadership is a lonely job. Very lonely indeed. The success and failure of a leader is always judged by actions taken or actions not taken.
Major General Magashi is not new to controversy. His declaration to “Nigeria is bleeding” captures what is going on in the country at the moment. When he was appointed the Minister of Defence in 2019, I wrote a piece on “ALL EYES ON MAGASHI”. I do not intend to delete what I wrote. Let us look at the schedule of the Minister of Defence. In the past, the Ministry of Defence used to have four Ministers. There was Minister of Defence, there was also Minister of State for Navy, Mister of State for Army and Minister of State for Air Force. There was also a time where there was a Minister of Defence and Minister of State for Defence. I am referring to the post-1999 era. Now General Magashi has no Minister of State. The man who said “Nigeria is bleeding” is no doubt a super Minister under President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. Let us examine his schedule and responsibilities as Minister of Defence combined. This include formulation and implementation of policies and programmes on defence, co-ordination of Defence Programmes that commit the entire military to matters of military operation, ensuring the combat readiness of the Armed Forces, advises the President, Commander-in-Chief on the deployment of troops, strategic doctrines, procurement decisions, and defence policy, co-ordinates the execution of Armed Forces Development Project, approves the clearance of foreign military aircraft and warships, signs defence agreements, liaison with Armed Forces of foreign countries, approves the appointment of Defence attaches and member, Armed Forces Council/Board, Chairman, Armed Forces Tenders Board, member, boards of Armed Forces Training Institutions (NDA, National War College and Staff College), member, Joint Intelligence Board, member, Defence Council and Security Council and any other duties that may be assigned by the President, Commander-in-Chief. Other responsibilities are Welfare of Ex-Servicemen including Military Pensions Boards, coordination of the Armed Forces Resettlement Scheme, matters of war graves, military museums and national cenotaph, matters of the Nigerian Legions, supervision of the Parastatals of the Ministry: Defence Industry Corporation and Tafawa Balewa Square Investment Limited.
I must however add that he became the military governor of Sokoto state between August 1990 and January 1992. Between September 1985 and August 27, 1993, General Ibrahim Babangida, GCFR, appointed seventy-four military governors. General Magashi was one of them. He took over from Colonel Ahmed Muhammadu Daku and he was succeeded by Colonel Yahaya Abdulkarim. Other military governors appointed by General Babangida at that were Colonel Danladi Zakari, Colonel John Ewerekumoh Yeri, Wing Commander Mohammed Ndatsu Umaru, Major Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Colonel Anthony Ukpo, Colonel Olayinka Sule, Group Captain Abubakar Salihu, Colonel Raji Alagbe Rasaki, Commander Eben Ibim Princewill, Lt-Colonel Oladayo Popoola, Police Commissioner Fideli Oyakhilome, Colonel Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya, Colonel Ekundayo Opaleye, Colonel Lawrence Onoja, Group Captain Emeka Omeruah, Lt-Colonel Adetunjii Idowu Olurin, Navy Captain Sunday Abiodun Olukoya, Commander Anthony E. Oguguo, Colonel Jonathan Tunde Ogbeha, Wing Commander I.O. Nkanga, Colonel Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar, Group Captain Gbolahan Mudashiru, Wing Commander Isa Mohammed, Commander I. E. Mohammed, Colonel Garba Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Garba Ali Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Ahmed Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Abdullahi Mohammed, Colonel Abdul One Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Mohammed Buba Marwa, Lt-Colonel David Bonaventure Mark, Lt-Colonel Fidelis Makka, Colonel Mohammed Maina, Colonel Bashir Salihi Magashi, Navy Captain Allison Madueke, Lt-Colonel Yohanna Ateyan Madaki, Colonel Joshua Mamman Madaki, Colonel John Yahya Madaki, Group Captain M.A. Lawal, Colonel Alwali Jauji Kazir, Lt-Colonel Aliyu Kama, Navy Captain Oladeinde O. Joseph, Group Captain Jonah David Jang, Lt-Colonel John Mark Inienger, Lt-Commander Amadi Ikwecheghi, Lt-Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, Navy Commander Olabode George and Lt-Colonel Chris Abutu Garuba. Others are Colonel Idris Garba, Lt-Colonel Herbert O. Eze, Commissioner of Police Sani Ahmed Daura, Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Daku, Colonel Ishaya Bakut, Colonel Patrick Aziza, Colonel Abubakar Tanko Ayuba, Lt-Colonel Ernest Kizito Attah, Navy Captain Ekpo Archibong, Colonel Dan Archibong, Major Abdulmumuni Aminu, Lt-Colonel Mohammed Christopher Alli, Lt-Colonel Abu Ali, Group Captain Ibrahim Alkali, Colonel Robert Akonobi, Navy Captain Mike Okhai Akhigbe, Group Captain Frank Ajobena, Colonel Leo Lapade Ajiborisha, Adeyinka Afolahan, Navy Captain Adeyemi Afolabi, Colonel Abdulkarim Adisa, Group Captain Ernest Olawunmi Adeleye, Group Captain Luke Chijiuba Achulor, Navy Captain Joseph Abulu, Lt-Colonel Ahmed Aboki Abdullahi and Colonel Godwin Osagie Abbe.
He knows the mechanics and rudiments of the power structure. For him to say that “Nigeria is bleeding”, we have to take him seriously.
In 1997, General Bashir Magashi was appointed a member of the Provisional Ruling Council headed by General Sani Abacha, GCFR. It was the Council that was to decide on the fate of General Oladipo Diya, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju alias Jasper, Major General Abdulkareem Adisa, Major Seun Fadipe, Colonel Olu Akiode and others. The 22 members of the Provisional Ruling Council included General Sani Abacha, Lt. General Jeremiah Useni, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, Inspector General of Police, Major General John Inienger, Major General Abdullahi Sarki Mukthar, Major General Mufu Balogun, Rear Admiral Taiwo Odedina, Major General Victor Malu, Rear Admiral Rufus Eyitayo, Commodore Victor Ombu, Lt. Gen. B. Haladu, Air Commodore Kamis Uwenwailiri, Major General Felix Mujaperuo, Major General Ishaya Bamaiyi, Major General Peter Shaa, Rear Admiral Mike Akhigbe, Commodore Anthony Oguguo, Major General Bashir Magashi and the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Abdusalami Abubakar. The Provisional Ruling Council was scheduled to meet on June 8, 1998, but it could not because of General Sani Abacha’s death on that day. If you read the book “THE VINDICATION OF A GENERAL” by General Ishaya Bamaiyi, you will be better informed on who Major General Magashi is.
After General Sani Abacha died in 1998, he was appointed as a member of the Provisional Ruling Council headed by General Abdulsalam Abubakar, GCFR. It was this council that handed power to President Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999. Other members of the Provisional Ruling Council at that time were Musuliu Smith (Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zonal Headquarters, Kano, Group Captain Ikechukwu Nnamani, Commodore Emmanuel Acholonu, Rear-Admiral Victor Ombu, Major-General Idris Garba, Major General Yunana Nom, Air Vice-Marshall Mohammed Ndatsu Umaru, Air Vice-Marshal Emmanuel Edem, Air Vice-Marshal Isaac Mohammed Alfa, Rear-Admiral Peter Ebhaleme, Rear-Admiral Taiwo Odedina, Rear-Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi, Major-General Samuel Victor Leo Malu, Major-General Oladayo Popoola, Major-General Ekpo Archibong, Major-General Peter Gyang Sha, Major-General Abdullahi Sarki Muktar, Air Vice-Marshal Idi Musa, Major-General Suleiman Said, Major-General Bashir Salihi Magashi, Major-General John Mark Inienger, Major-General Godwin Abbe, Lt-General Rufus Kupolati, Ibrahim Coomasie, Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok, Vice-Admiral Jubril Ayinla, Lt-General Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi, Air Marshal Al-Amin Daggash, Vice-Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe and General Abdusalam Abubakar.
On his assumption of power on May 29, 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, later retired 93 military officers who had earlier served in various political positions during the military era. General Magashi was one of them. The others are Major-Generals Leo Ajiborisha, Samud Omlago Ango, Patrick. Aziza, Idris Garba, Joshua Madaki, Bashir Salihi Magashi, Abdul-One Mohammed, Garba Ali Mohammed, Abdullahi Sarki
Mukhtar, Brigadier Generals Yusuf Abubakar, Sule Ahman, Ibrahim Aliyu, Bassey Asuquo, Ernest Attah, Salihu Tunde Bello, Samaila Bature Chamah, Cletus Komena Emein, Lawal Ja’afaru Isah, Aliyu Kama, Fidelis Makka, Mohammed Buba Marwa, Yakubu Mu’azu, Dominic Oneya, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, John Yeri, Colonels Bzigu Afakirya, Usman Ahmed, Daniel Akintonde, Hameed Ali, Anthony Amebo, Theophilus Bamigboye, John Dungs, Moses Fasanya, Dauda Musa Komo, Aminu Konragora, Mohammed Mana, Musa Mohammed, Anthony Obi, Peter Ogar, Aina Joseph Owoniyi, Habibu Idris Shuaibu, Musa Shehu, Ahmed Usman, Jibril Bala Yakubu, Tanko Zubairu, Lt-Colonels Joseph Akaagerger, Mohammed Bawa, Ahmadu Garba Hussaini, Abubakar Maimalari, Bawa Mande, Rear-Admiral Afolabi Afolahan, Oladehinde Joseph, Sunday Olukoya, Adetoye Sode, Commodore Emmanuel Acholonu, James Aneke, Temi Ejoor, Amadi Ikwechegh, Anthony Oguguo, Kayode Olofinmoyin, Navy Captains Adedurotimi
Adeusi, Adewunmi Agbaje, Walter Feghabo, Joe Kalu-Igboamah, Omoniyi Olubolade, Anthony
Onyearugbulem, Christopher Osondu, Rasheed Raji, Anthony Udofia, Atanda Yusuf, Air Vice Marshals Gregory
Agboneni and Frank Ajobena, Air Commodore Ibrahim Dada, Peter Gana, Baba Iyam, Ibrahim Kefas, Ndong Essiet
Nkanga, Abubakar Salihu, Group Captains John Ebiye, Sam Ewang, Rufai Garba, Lawal Haruna, John Ben-Kalio, Joe Orji, Wing Commander Adamu Mshelia and EU Ukaegbu, Assistant Inspector General of Police Dabo Aliyu, Simeon Oduoye, Amen Oyakhire and Commissioner of Police Mustapha Ismail.
After retirement, General Magashi vied to be Governor of Kano state under the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) and later became the National Chairman of the Party. Along with President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, he became a member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and in 2007, he was the Kano’s state governorship candidate of DPP. Major General Bashir Magashi is representing Kano state in the Federal Executive Council and at present Kano state has two ministers of full cabinet rank including Alhaji Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Unlike states like Ondo and Kogi states, who for the two terms of President Muhammadu Buhari are compensated with just Ministers of State. Leadership is a lonely job. Very lonely indeed. The success and failure of a leader is always judged by actions taken or actions not taken. But a leader can only take an action based on information available to him. Sometimes friends and aides can mislead a leader because most of the time most leaders are imprisoned by those close around them. General Magashi is not just a Minister; he is a man who has been in power and government for years. He knows the mechanics and rudiments of the power structure. For him to say that “Nigeria is bleeding”, we have to take him seriously.
I am told General Magashi is extremely close to his boss and friend, President Muhammadu Buhari. He should tell President Buhari not to allow Nigeria to bleed to death, the consequences of which will be too grave to imagine.
Eric Teniola, a former Director at the Presidency, wrote from Lagos.