President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Theophilus Danjuma on his 80th birthday and praised him for his numerous interventions to stabilize Nigeria.
In a congratulatory letter signed by him, he wrote: “On behalf of the Federal Executive Council, my family and all Nigerians, please accept my warm felicitations on your 80th birthday.
“I share in the grace and joy that comes with this special day, having keenly followed your leadership trajectory over the years in selfless service to the nation, courageous military career and building a versatile business empire.”
The President also lauded Mr Danjuma’s various roles in stabilising the country: “As you turn 80 years, the meritorious role you played during the Nigerian civil war easily comes to mind, and as a nation, we are grateful for your numerous interventions in the political space to ensure peace, stability and secure a future of one nation for our children.
“I believe your birthday is unique and memorable for the life you live in constantly looking out for the weak and vulnerable among us, which naturally inspired the TY Danjuma Foundation, and more recently, your acceptance to serve as Chairman of the Presidential Committee on North East Initiative.”
President Buhari wished Mr Danjuma, a retired general, the God’s blessings of good health and longer life to continue in the service of humanity.
Mr Danjuma, a former Nigerian chief of army staff and part of the junta that ruled Nigeria between 1976 and 1979, was born in Takum, Taraba State on 9 December, 80 years ago.
His parents were peasants.
He was educated at St Bartholomew’s Primary School in Wusasa and moved on to the Benue Provincial Secondary School in Katsina-Ala where he was the captain of the school cricket 1st XI team.
He received his Higher School Certificate in 1958.
In 1959, Danjuma enrolled at the Nigerian College of Arts Science and Technology in Zaria (Ahmadu Bello University) to study History on a Northern Nigeria Scholarship. However, by the end of 1960, he left to enrol with the Nigerian Army, where he had undoubtedly an illustrious career.
Mr Danjuma was commissioned into the Nigerian Army as second lieutenant. In 1963, he joined a UN Peace-keeping force in Sante, Katanga Province in Congo when he was promoted to captain three years later.
In 1966 Captain Danjuma was involved in the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966 with the 4th Battalion in Mokola, Ibadan. It was a controversial role, for which he still gets bashed more than 50 years after.
He also led campaigns during the civil war between 1967 and January 1970.
After the war, 1970 Danjuma attended the International Court Martial in Trinidad and Tobago as Nigeria’s representative. He was appointed president of the tribunal, set up to try coup plotters in the small country.
His military career blossomed thereafter, as he was appointed a colonel in 1971 and in 1975, a brigadier. He was General Officer Commanding, GOC, and chief of army staff before he retired in 1979, just in his early 40s.
In retirement, he plunged into business and is known to have made many billions, especially in the oil sector.
His oil company South Atlantic Petroleum Limited, SAPETRO, is into lucrative oil prospecting both in Nigeria and Benin Republic.