I first became familiar with the name Dr Aminu Magashi Garba through his widely read weekly column, ‘Health Interactive,’ on the pages of Daily Trust Newspapers sometime in 2004.
I was reading him unfailingly every week, even when he left the country for the United Kingdom, for his MSc in Public Health and Post Graduate Diploma from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine between 2006 and 2007, he didn’t rest the column and I continued tapping from his vast knowledge through the questions sent by the readers, which he always answered brilliantly.
From my readings of his health column, I developed interest in health communication and always showed keen interest to report on health-related issues. Also, joining Daily Trust as a reporter in 2012 gave me the privilege of having free copy of the newspaper daily, which simplified my access to my favourite column.
However, our paths didn’t cross until in 2014 when I was transferred to Kano Regional Office. My senior colleague, Hajiya Halima Musa was invited by Evidence for Action (E4A), an organisation where Dr Magashi was then a regional coordinator, for a workshop in Kaduna State, she couldn’t make it and therefore asked me to represent her.
I was both happy and curious to meet the man that I had been reading for almost a decade. Therefore, when I entered the training hall, my eyes were searching for him, but I couldn’t locate him easily. I failed to locate him despite sitting almost close to him because I was looking for a huge, swamped and overly dressed health practitioner, while the gentleman sitting a few seats from me was every inch an epitome of humility.
So, I asked Bilkisu Ado Zango, then Advocacy Coordinator for E4A, to show me who Dr Magashi was among the ‘big men’ sitting on the high table, she pointed him to me, simply dressed in a two-piece black suit.
I was immediately struck by his simplicity; here was a man that maintained a column for over a decade in one of the most widely read national daily, a founder of the Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR) and Regional Coordinator of E4A among other giant strides, yet sat quietly among the participants of the workshop he organised.
Over the three days the workshop lasted, I was marvelled by his intellectual presentations, which were full of wisdom and one can touch his enthusiasm and passion for our country’s health sector.
Since that first ‘accidental meeting’ our path kept crossing which led to my first trip outside the country, when I attended the 2014 Global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It was at the convention that Dr Magashi launched the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN). I later learnt that AHBN was envisioned in 2006, founded in 2013 and launched during the Global PMNCH Partners 2014 Forum in Johannesburg.
Therefore, when he informed me of his desire to establish a non-for-profit online health newspaper, I indicated my interest to join that noble cause, and from January 2016 to date, I am humbly editing the newspaper, Health Reporters, which is going strong by the day.
In the past one and a half decade (s) of my journalism career, I have never met a person who is so keen and has genuine passion to improve our precarious health sector and generally contributed to the development of the society like Dr Magashi.
Though he is my boss, I can openly debate with him over a topic and he always accepts superior argument. However, what I find difficult to believe is, he never gets angry when I disagree with him. He acts like an academic don when presenting an intellectual argument.
Through his foundation; Aminu Magashi Garba Foundation (AMG Foundation), Dr Magashi has embedded volunteer health workers in strategic primary health centres and paid their monthly stipends to support Kano state with additional human capital and resources.
Similarly, over the last six years, he has championed the advocacy that led to the establishment of the Kano Health Trust Fund, Kano Private Health Institutions Management Agency and Kano State ultra-modern specialist hospitals board.
Our health champion Dr Magashi is also supporting journalists covering health beat at the national level with a monthly stipend to encourage their work. He recently launched an annual health heroic award to celebrate frontline health workers as our unsung heroes.
Apart from the health sector, Dr Magashi’s humanitarian gesture was also extended to the security sector, where he is supporting 10 Nigeria Police Force (NPF) formations of his home state, Kano, to help policing in the state.
Because of his contribution in the development of Kano State Government and its people in the last two decades, Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, recently appointed Dr Magashi as Coordinator of the Kano Cancer Care Centre, an assignment he accepted and offered to carry out free of charge, which is arguably unprecedented.
All this ‘dogon turanci’ is my simple way of sending warmest birthday wishes to an incredible leader who leads by example and brings out the best in me over the past decade.
Your guidance, mentorship, and trust in us have made a significant impact on our growth. As you clock your golden jubilee, may the years ahead be filled with exciting opportunities, memorable achievements, and moments of joy and contentment.
Sir, I always feel great working with you. You taught me a lot. You have inspired me in my weakest times. Thanks for everything. I hope your special day will be full of love and happiness.
Happy birthday, Sir!
Yaya is a Freelance Journalist and Editor of Health Reporters