Engr Magashi Bashir: The Water Resources Expert, by Sampson Ikemitang
On the 24th December, 2019, news hit the airwaves about the appointment of Engr. Magashi Umar Bashir by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC).
Indeed, his choice for the job by Mr. President has, without doubt, elicited cheers and accolades from across ethno-religious divides. This is based on the juxtaposition that he has extensive experience in public service, having worked in government for several years.
In fact, many have since described the appointment as well-deserved, given the appointee’s pedigree in water resources engineering. Interestingly, this viewpoint has been accentuated by his intellectual prowess, nimbleness, and sagacity exhibited at different fora –locally and internationally on water resources related discourse
The admirers are, therefore, optimistic that Engr. Magashi will certainly bring his decades-long expertise in water resources development and management to bear, with a view to attaining accelerated national development for the country.
As a highlight, some of the roles which Engr. Magashi is expected to undertake at the Water Resources Commission include: Definition of standards for operation, execution and performance; Regulation of water resources development as well as its planning and management in line with international best practise, amongst others. A feat he has achieved and even surpassed the expectations of many.
To profile his background, Magashi Umar Bashir was born on February 14, 1963 in Gwale, Kano State. He attended Gwale Primary School between 1970 -1977 where he obtained First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). He proceeded to the Federal Government College, Odogbolu, Ogun State between 1977-1982 and got the West African Examination Certificate (WAEC).
In 1982-1984, he enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, Kano for IJMB. Subsequently, he gained admission into the Technical University Kosice, Slovak Republic (former Czechoslovakia), graduating with bachelor’s & masters degree in Exploration Geology in 1992.
Thereafter, he served the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) with Sylvens Quarries Nigeria Ltd (a blasting company) in Ondo State, South West Nigeria in 1993.
He started his civil service career with the Kano State Ministry of Water Resources as a Geologist 1, on grade level 09 in 1994 and earned promotions to the rank of Principal Geologist, grade level 12 by 1999. He later moved into the Federal Civil Service in the year 2000 as a Principal Hydrogeologist on grade level 12 with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and rose to the position of a Director in 2016.
While in service, Engr. Magashi had distinguished himself and displayed some measures of dexterity in the discharge of his duties, as he served the nation in different capacities. For instance, in 1997, he piloted the geophysical surveys for the drilling of Hand pump boreholes in the then guinea worm infested areas of Kano State. In 2005, he conducted geophysical survey for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in different military formations. Also, he had conducted several other privately drilled boreholes such as the Mamba point Hotel Borehole which is known for its uniqueness ever since it was constructed. Again, in that same year in Niger State, he conducted geophysical surveys for the drilling of motorised boreholes for the purpose of supplying the town and its adjoining villages, including the compilation of the whole report on the project.
In the same vein, in 2006 -2009, he worked as a counterpart staff on the European Union/World Bank Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP). A Programme which was co-funded by the Nigerian Government, UNICEF and European Union was aimed at reforming the water sector in Nigeria. This was in effort to achieve effective implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Management in Nigeria. In achieving its complete mapping, two pilot River Basins (RBDAs) Hadejia-Jama and Cross River Basins were singled out as case study. This was realised seamlessly with the active participation of Engr. Magashi.
It is instructive to note that the veteran water resources engineer has an insatiable appetite for knowledge. That explains why he has not spared any opportunity to learn something new even with his tight schedule. All this is in a bid to deliver quality service to the people whenever the need for him to serve comes knocking. In this connection, Engr. Magashi has several published and unpublished works to his credit. Prominent among them are: Delta Sediments of the KL’COV Layers in the South Eastern Slovakian Depression and their Oil Prospectiveness –A Dissertation submitted to his alma mater which after defence was graded as EXCELLENT in 1992; Flooding, Causes and Effects published in the NIHSA HYDROVIEWS –A Scientific Bulletin Vol.2 No.1 2013; Water Management for Cropland, Livestock, Rangeland and Bushfires in Nigeria under the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa –MESA Bulletin Vol.1 2016. Others are: Macro and Microscopic Analysis of a Gypsum Sample, Damaturu, Yobe State 1994; and had conducted over 35, 000 Geophysical Surveys in the Basement Complex, the Sedimentary and the Chad Basin 2000 -2013.
As the helmsman of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, (NIWRMC), Engr. Magashi has introduced laudable initiatives and recorded tremendous success stories. Perhaps, it’s appropriate to highlight some of these mind-blowing achievements.
After several unsuccessful attempts by his predecessors to regularise project staff of the Commission into the mainstream civil service, Engr. Magashi ultimately secured a waiver from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation with subsequent approval by the Federal Civil Service Commission and have since fully integrated these 40 staff into the service.
In effort to reposition the Commission and propel it towards achieving its mandate of regulating, protecting, conserving and controlling equitable water resources for socio-economic development, the National Water Source Protection Policy Framework has been developed, validated and finalised by the stakeholders. Also, the development of Technical Assessment for Environment and Safety performance of Dams in Nigeria have been developed. The Commission has also created the Databank and GIS Laboratory in its headquarters. The essence is to enable it monitor effectively and efficiently the quality and safety of water resource.
Other achievements include: Establishment of a legal framework for sustainable revenue recovery process; Review of Water Use Licence terms and conditions in line with international best practice; Collaboration with State Water regulators for sustainable and equitable water resources management; Expanded protocol on enforcement against water use charges defaulters; commencement of water use charges recovery process which is done in collaboration with recovery law firms and collaborative measures with the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation in the retrieval of the Commission’s complete mandate –collection of water use charges from the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
More so, the Commission under Engr. Magashi’s supervision is working on the following policies: – Water metering equipment, flood insurance, people living on the floodplains and wetlands in Nigeria.
In recognition for hard-work, selflessness and dedication to duties, Engr. Magashi had during his service years received series of commendation letters and Award from both the Government and interest groups. He received letter of commendation from the Honourable Minister of Water Resources for selfless dedication to the organisation of the International Conference on Lake Chad; Leadership Award in recognition of immense support in the hosting of the 12th National Conference of the Nigerian Association of Hydrological Sciences by the Association of Hydrological Services –Rivers/Bayelsa State Chapter; Award of Excellence for contribution, selflessness and dedication by the Urban Development Group and Award of the Thomas Sankara Leadership Prize by the Youth Partnership for African Development.
He is a fellow of several Professional Associations namely:-Nigeria Association of Hydrogeologists (FNAH), Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (FNMGS), Member International Water Association (MIWA), Nigerian Association of Hydrological Sciences (FNAHS), Nigerian Institute of Water Engineers (FNIWE) and a registered practitioner of the Council for Nigeria Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG).
Mr. Ikemitang is a writer and Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja. Send SMS only (07068133747).