When the full list was eventually released, the public could only speculate and match certain names to certain ministries because the presidency kept a tight lid on the portfolios of the nominees.
Meanwhile it was certain that retired Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd) from Kano State would either be assigned to Defence or Interior Ministry.
The reason for the strong speculation was the fact that he performed exceedingly well going by his military background as a former military administrator of Sokoto during the regime of Ibrahim Babangida and member of the Provisional Ruling Council during administration of General Sani Abacha. He also held other top military position including General Commanding Officer in Ibadan, Commander Guard Brigade Abuja and Commander of ECOMOG Troops in Liberia.
Immediately after his swearing-in as the Defence Minister, by President Buhari in the Villa, General Magashi inspected the Brigade of Guard formation at the Ministry of Defence where he charged the staff of the ministry to brace up and be steadfast on their jobs.
In his initial interactions with respective officers, he expressed his worry over the activities of terrorists in the North-West, Banditry in the North-West and nagging other security challenges in other parts of the country. He insisted lasting solutions must be proffered and implemented.
In an effort to improve the morale of troops fighting terrorists, General Magashi flew to Borno State to meet with the commanders and the soldiers. He restated the federal government’s commitment in improving their welfare and providing adequate weaponry to win the war on terror.
In one of his remarks he said: “I want to pass this message through the commander to the field that the Commander in Chief is willing to take your welfare and motivation more seriously than ever before.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is willing to improve your feeding, your kits, your operational requirements- be it weapons or otherwise in order to give you the motivation that whatever you do the government is not unaware to reward you.
“In this regard, all those who lost their lives during this operation, we see it as sacrifice and government will do something in respect of these officers and soldiers who died in the course of this war.
“We will also, make sure that entitlements of officers and soldiers are promptly paid and those retired, their pension and gratuity are well taken care of.”
The encouraging words certainly boosted the morale of the troops on the frontlines. General Magashi who is also a lawyer is always punctual in the office and attend to sensitive meetings on national security.
So far, there is a promising start from the activities of the new Defence Minister which we hope his tenure will witness the victory of our military and other security services over terrorism, banditry, communal clashes, kidnapping, and other atrocities being committed by the underworld.
Muhammad G. Rabo
Writing from Lugbe, Abuja.