How A Former Nigerian Farm Boy Built A Remarkable Military, Political, & Business Career
No genuine success comes without a price. Discipline, hard work and dedication must be paid in full, and the life of every truly successful individual tells the full tale of their commitment to the process and the dues they have rightly paid.
This is the story of Theophilus Danjuma, an ex-military official who through discipline, dedication, and hard work didn’t just build an illustrious military career but also went on to grow a successful business.
Here’s how he did it.
Early Life And Education Of Theophilus Danjuma
Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma was born to Kuru Danjuma and Rufkatu Asibi in Takum, Taraba State (formally Gongola), Nigeria on the 9th of December, 1938. When Danjuma was young, Takum was largely a farming community, dealing mainly with subsistence agriculture. His father was a hardworking individual whose family was highly respected in the community. Kuru Danjuma traded in agricultural metal parts, equipment and tools.
Theophilus Danjuma began his education at St Bartholomew’s Primary School in Wusasa and moved to the Benue Provincial Secondary School in Katsina-Ala, where he was captain of the school’s cricket 1st XI team.
In 1958, he received his Higher School Certificate and in the following year, Danjuma enrolled to study History at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology in Zaria (now Ahmadu Bello University). He however abandoned school by the end of 1960 to enrol in the Nigerian Army.
Theophilus Danjuma’s Military Career
Theophilus Danjuma first began his career as a second lieutenant in the Nigerian Army and as commander of a platoon in the Republic of Congo. In 1963, he joined forces for peacekeeping in Katanga Province, one of the regions in the Congo and got promoted to captain rank three years later. In 1966, he took part in the Nigerian counter-coup which led to the fourth battalion in Ibadan, western Nigeria.
About a year later, Theophilus Danjuma succeeded in getting a promotion to the lieutenant colonel. Around the ending of the Nigerian Civil War, he once again led the battalion which freed a few important personnel from detention.
In 1971, Danjuma was promoted to Colonel; with a responsibility of court marshalling the officers of the army. After two productive years, Theophilus Danjuma was once again promoted to the rank of Brigadier and was made a General Commanding officer. He became the Army Chief of Staff the next year in the first tenure of Olusegun Obasanjo and subsequently retired from the Nigerian army in 1979.
His Political Career
Key points in Danjuma’s political career were:
- Chief of Army staff
- The nomination of President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999) as Minister of Defense in the cabinet
- Appointment as chairman of the Warri Dispute Investigation Committee (2003).
- Nomination for the presidential advisory council chairman under President Goodluck Jonathan (2010).
Theophilus Danjuma was also responsible for renaming Nigeria’s barracks and cantons after the civilians and citizens living there.
Journey To Entrepreneurship
Theophilus Danjuma became an entrepreneur after he retired from the Nigerian. He established the Nigerian America Line (NAL) in 1979—a marine trading company that has grown significantly over the years. It initially began with the release of the ship named Hananu, which was used for trading between Lagos and parts of South America.
He also founded COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria LTD in 1984, another notable company established to serve as a NAL agent. COMET has grown and expanded over time. In 2005, Danjuma acquired a “roll-in, roll-out” port in Lagos, making COMET the largest independently operating port operator in Africa.
In 1998, Theophilus Danjuma founded South Atlantic Petroleum Ltd (SAPETRO), which specialised in exploring and producing oil in Nigeria. Later in February 1998, SAPETRO was awarded the Oil Prospecting License 246 by the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
NatCom Development & Investment Ltd (NatCom), one of Theophilus Danjuma’s establishments, founded in 2016, is a network connection company, which provides access to internet connections in Nigeria, called Ntel.
He also invests in real estate and has a stake in Notore Chemical Industries, a urea fertiliser producer, as well as a share in NALComet, one of the largest shipping companies in Nigeria.
Nigeria America Line Today
NAL later received patronage from Nigeria’s National Supply Company (NNSC) from which it brought supplies from the government. NAL’s customer base has continued to grow over the years, including Nigerian and foreign customers. It also became an official member of some important Nigerian, North America, and South American conferences.
NAL started in 1979 with a staff of twelve and was about 250 people in 2009. It is now called the NAL-COMET Company, and it has the headquarters in Lagos as well as branches in Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Onne, and Warri.
Theophilus Danjuma Impact In Society
The TY Danjuma Foundation was founded in Nigeria in December 2008. The key goals of the Foundation are to deliver sustainable benefits through the introduction of development programmes. The TY Danjuma Foundation has been working towards reducing poverty in communities by providing basic services, education for less privileged children and young adults and free medical care for the poor.
So far, over US$ 500,000 has been donated as grants to NGOs working to alleviate poverty in the Danjuma’s native state, Taraba.
The TY Danjuma Foundation also works with other NGOs throughout Nigeria to render selfless services to the locals. One of the many NGOs that the Foundation funds are CASVI. The main area of expertise at CASVI is the provision of free eye care facilities, such as river blindness treatment in Wukari, Ibi and Donga of Taraba state.
Theophilus Danjuma is also the Chairman of the Committee for Support to Victims, whose main objective is to support victims of terrorism.
Theophilus Danjuma’s Awards And Recognitions
Ty Danjuma received the highest award given to any non-head of state, which is the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCFON). He also bagged other national and international awards, titles and honorary degrees from indigenous and foreign universities.
In 2011, he was honoured with the title of the Leadership Person of the Year by the Leadership Board of Editors, Nigeria. Two years later, the Emir of Zazzau conferred him with the highly esteemed title of Jaarmai Zazzau in his fight against the kidnap of the Chibok girls.
In 2015, Theophilus Danjuma was awarded the “champion for the conservation of biodiversity” by President Muhamadu Buhari.
In 2016, he was appointed as the Chairman of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).
To Sum It Up
Theophilus Danjuma’s work ethic and outstanding performance in the military and other areas of his life made it possible for him to achieve the type of success he did. His life is an inspiration to many and emulating his work ethic can help start a great journey for you too.