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Nigerian Business Icon: General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma

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Background and Personal Life

General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma GCON (Rtd) is a a Nigerian politician, general, philanthropist and high profile businessman who has played a significant role in the history of the nation. His source of enormous wealth is through shipping and petroleum.

TY Danjuma was born on December 9, 1938 to Kuru Danjuma and Rufkatu Asibi in Takum, Taraba State. He is married to Daisy Danjuma.

Educational Background

Theophilus Danjuma enrolled at St Bartholomew’s Primary School Wusasa, and then proceeded to the Benue Provincial Secondary School, Katsina-Ala for his secondary education. After completing his Senior School Certificate Examination in 1958, he received the Northern Nigerian Scholarship to study History at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (now known as Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria) in 1959. In 1960, he dropped out of the university to join the Nigerian Army. He spent 19 years in military service (1960 – 1979).

Career and Business Life

Upon his military retirement in 1979, Danjuma founded the Nigeria American Line (NAL). At inception, the business began with about 12 staff and has increased to about 250 employees, with 12 expatriate staff in 2009. Danjuma kick started the business with only one office in Lagos and a rented ship called ‘Hannatu’. In compliance to Nigeria’s bilateral trade agreement to import goods into the country through the seaports from countries in South America, the ship’s dealings were between Lagos, Nigeria and Santos, Brazil. Today, NAL has already expanded to Port-Harcourt, with branch offices serving Calabar, Warri, and Onne seaports.

In 1984, TY Danjuma established another business called COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Limited. He created the company primarily to be the broker for his Nigeria American Line (NAL) company. COMET grew to become one of Nigeria’s biggest self-sufficient brokers, with a specialty in managing different cargos and vessels. Later, the names NAL and COMET were joined to become NALComet.

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The company’s clientele included big organizations such as Volkswagen Nigeria, ANNAMCO, Iwopin Paper Mill, DICON Salt (Nigeria), and The Nigeria National Supply Company (NNSC). The company became a member of the Mediterranean Line (MEWAC), Brazil-Nigeria Freight Conference, and American West African Freight Conference (AWAFC).

After acquiring a roll-in-roll-out port (RORO) in Lagos in 2005, NALComet emerged as Africa’s largest self-sufficient port broker. As at 2009, the company had the capacity to manage more than 200 vessels at the ports of Warri, Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Lagos.

In 1995, General Theophilus Danjuma established his oil and gas exploration and production company called South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO). Three years after the establishment of SAPETRO, General Theophilus Danjuma purchased a prized oil block from the then military Head of State, Gen. Sanni Abasha. The oil field exploration license cost Danjuma a whopping $25 million at the time. This deal would go on to make Danjuma one of the few other Nigerians that amassed enormous wealth from the energy reserves of the country and even raise his status to dollar-denominated billionaire. In 2006, Danjuma sold half of SAPETRO’s contractor rights for a section off Nigeria’s coast for $1.8 billion to a state-backed Chinese company.

In addition to his shipping and oil & gas ventures, TY Danjuma has investments in other sectors, particularly in real estate. He is the owner of TY Properties (UK) Ltd. The company, which handles the properties of TY Danjuma, is involved in the business of real estate development. The company also rents out commercial properties in UK, and private properties in Singapore and UK.

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Also, TY Danjuma was announced as the Board Chairman of NatCom Development and Investment Limited in July 2016. The company which trades as ntel is one of the top providers of superfast internet access and mobile 4G/LTE network in Nigeria.

Net Worth, Wealth and Assets

In 2015, Forbes reported Theophilus Danjuma’s net worth to be $750 million. However, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in 2019, his net worth was an estimate of $1.2 billion. According to findings, the Danjuma’s have over 30 properties in assets across 3 different continents. TY Danjuma’s massive wealth comprises real estate investments in Nigeria, Singapore, California, the United Kingdom, and others. According to Bloomberg, the Danjuma’s are the owner of a 300-year-old inn called Kings Arm Hotel. The property sits next to London’s Hampton Court Palace which was once the home of Henry VIII.

All of General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma’s assets and properties are managed by his TY Danjuma Family Office Ltd, which is a privately owned office located in Surrey, England.

Conclusion

Gen. Theophilus Danjuma has participated actively in the politics and democracy of Nigeria. He has held different positions under the Olusegun Obasanjo’s era and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration. He is also a philanthropist whose foundation – the TY Danjuma Foundation, has made medical treatment and education more accessible to the less privileged.

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