General Danjuma Theophilus Yakubu (GCON) FSS psc (RTD) is a retired officer of the Nigerian Army, a successful businessman, a seasoned politician, and a philanthropist. He was the Chief Of Staff of the Nigerian Army between July 1975 and October 1979. He also served as Minister of Defence during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo. General T.Y Danjuma (RTD) is the active chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO).
General Danjuma was born somewhere in a town called Takum, in Taraba State (then Gongola State), Nigeria. His father and mother were Kuru Danjuma and Rufkatu Asibi respectively. in Takum community, farming was the predominant occupation at the time. Most families in the community cultivated rice, yam, beniseed, and cassava. As was the norm at the time, Danjuma’s father was a peasant farmer and was well respected because he was very hardworking. The trait of being hardworking was also present in their ancestors, which further added to the respect of Kuru Danjuma. Kuru also bought and resold metals used in making farming tools and pieces of equipment.
T.Y Danjuma began schooling at St Bartholomew’s Primary School, Wusasa. From there, he attended the Benue Provincial Secondary School in Katsina-Ala. While he was at Benue Provincial School, he played cricket for his school and he became captain of the school team. In 1958, he got his Higher School Certificate. In 1959, he applied at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (Now Ahmadu Bello University). He was awarded a Scholarship by the then Northern Nigeria and he went to study History at the institution. Howbeit, in 1960, he seemed to have found his passion elsewhere and he left the institution. After leaving the institution, he went on to join the Nigerian Army.
Upon joining the Nigerian Army, Danjuma was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and was appointed as the leader of a platoon in the Congo. In 1963, he joined a Peace-Keeping force of the United Nations in Sante, Katanga Province there in Congo. About three years later, Danjuma was promoted to the rank of captain. In 1966, after he had become a captain, Danjuma took part in the Counter-Coup of July 1966, while he was at the 4th Batallion at Mokola, Ibadan.
In 1967, when the civil war started, Danjuma was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. When the civil war was drawing to a halt, T.Y commanded a battalion that rescued the first Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives – Jaja Wachuku – from where he was held hostage by the Ojukwu-led regime.
In 1970, Theophilus took part as Nigeria’s representative in the International Court Martial in Trinidad & Tobago. At Trinidad & Tobago, he was president of the tribunal that judged the case of a coup attempt in the country. In 1971, he was promoted to the rank of a Colonel. Subsequently, he spent two years handling court-martials for Army officers who were accused of indiscipline and corruption. He was promoted to the rank of a Brigadier in 1975 and he became a General Officer Commanding (GOC). In 1976, he was appointed Chief of Army Staff by Olusegun Obasanjo – who was the Head of State at the time. During the same year (1976), he proved the significance of his rank as the Chief of Army Staff when he successfully foiled the coup that was staged by Dimka and his cohorts. In 1979, Danjuma finally retired from the Nigerian army.
General Danjuma’s Business Career
Nigeria America Line (NAL): In 1979, after he had retired from the Nigerian army, General T.Y Danjuma leased a ship called “Hannatu”, and started a business in the maritime sector. The ship sailed between Lagos and Brazil when bilateral agreements had allowed for trade with countries in South America. This company was contracted by Nigeria’s National Supply Company (NNSC) to import goods on behalf of the government. Furthermore, NAL sealed contract deals with companies like DICON Salt, (Nigeria), Volkswagen, ANNAMCO, Iwopin Paper Mill and so on. Over time, NAL has grown and has expanded its outreach and remains a relevant name in the maritime sector, even until today.
COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Ltd: in 1984, Danjuma established COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Limited. COMET was more like the official agent of the NAL. As far back as 2009, COMET was in charge of more than 200 vessels across various ports in Nigeria. Today, COMET is arguably the biggest private port operators in Africa.
South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO): SAPETRO is an indigenous company that is into the drilling and exploration of crude oil. The company was founded by Danjuma in 1995 and received its Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 246 in February 1998. Since it received its license, SAPETRO has partnered with a couple of organizations in the upstream sector and has since discovered a couple of oil and dry gas fields. In 2009, SAPETRO built a modern high-class medical center for the Nasarawa State University. The medical center – South Atlantic Petroleum Medical Centre – would serve the local communities and the university.
NatCom Development & Investment Limited: Gen. Danjuma, in 2006, became the board chairman of the NatCom Development & Investment Limited – popularly known as ntel. Ntel operates a 4G/LTE network in Abuja and Lagos.
The Political Life Of General T.Y Danjuma
Since the final return of Democracy in 1999, General Danjuma has played different roles in different regimes. In 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as Minister of Defence. Then in 2003, he was appointed as the chairperson for the committee that made investigations on the Warri conflict. Again in 2010, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council.
Being a big fan of democracy, General Danjuma played a giant role in putting an end to the military’s involvement in politics. He also saw to the renaming of all cantonments and barracks from civilian names. He was also known to have vividly opposed the third term policy proposal of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He further served on the Victims’ Support Committee as Chairman – a committee which provided support for victims of terrorism.
The Noble Foundation of General T.Y Danjuma
The T.Y Danjuma was floated in December 2008. The foundation aims at providing aids by implementing development programs. The foundation seeks to partner with other noble causes and NGOs and raise funds which would serve as grants to these causes.
The foundation aspires to provide education and basic amenities, as well as free health care for local residents. At the moment, the foundation has given grants worth as much as USD500,000 to NGOs that are working to relieve suffering in Taraba – Danjuma’s home state.
Currently, his foundation partners with more than fifty NGOs across Nigeria.