Lt. General Theophilus Y. Danjuma (rtd) recently donated building facilities worth N2.3b to his alma mater, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria during a special convocation held in his honour. At the occasion, he warned about a looming anarchy following the dangers posed by the militant activities going on in Northern Nigeria. Damilola Oyedele writes...
He is many things to many people; friend, family man, retired soldier, tired politician, business man, etc. But one recurring decimal associated to his name, one common, unforgetable description of him is he is philanthropic par excellence. He lived up to this billing recently at the Special Convocation and launching of N50 billion Phase II Development Fund of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU), his alma mater to which he donated building facilities worth N2.3 billion. At the occasion, retired Lt. General Theophilus Y. Danjuma was conferred with a honorary Doctorate Degree in Science. The Special Convocation was held in his honour after he was ‘unavoidably absent’ at the real convocation in October last year and he had insisted on receiving his honour in person.
The Science Faculty was the main beneficiary of his largesse because as he said, science is the key to national development. He single-handedly committed to building and completing almost the whole of the new Science Faculty with an estimated N2.3 billion to include the administration block, library, main auditorium and landscaping of the faculty. He added that his company, South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) would provide every other structure and facility needed except for the department building.
Accolades poured in endlessly for the former Chief of Army Staff. He was accompanied by his wife, Senator Daisy Danjuma, and associates. Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida led the way in lavishing praises on Danjuma. He described TY, as he is fondly called, as a man who has singlehandedly contributed to the development of education more than any other Nigerian. He lauded Danjuma’s decision to pick education as one of the focal points of the TY Danjuma Foundation to reverse the decline in the education system, which has been linked to poverty, insecurity and under-development.
The Sultan of Sokoto who is Chancellor of the 50-year-old institution, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, described the awardee as a detribalized Nigerian who has transformed the lives of a significant number of people in the society. In his characteristic blunt style, Danjuma expressed serious reservations at the happenings in Nigeria particularly the north with an appeal to the elites to brainstorm on how to restore the values, which have been eroded by activities of militant sects.
The ceremony was attended by many northern elites: Vice President Namadi Sambo, Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu and Governor Muktar Yero of Kaduna State, Speaker of the House of Representative, Hon. Aminu Tabuwal, Professor Jerry Gana, Education Minister Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufai, and a host of others.
“It is time to ask ourselves what we have done or are doing as individuals to preserve or enhance the great heritage put upon us. Our founding fathers placed emphasis on merit and self reliance and sought to create a society based on respect for human rights and respect for the rights of others irrespective of the tribe or religion. They would certainly be appalled that today, the nation is in total anarchy,” Danjuma said in his address
He continued; “Human life is very cheap in Nigeria and impunity has become a norm. In the case of the North, the danger is very real indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the middle of a civil war in Northern Nigeria. There is no defined front in this particular war and worse still; the enemy is faceless and unknown. There is no immunity for anyone, moreover, this war is highly contagious, and needless to say the social and economic cost is incalculable.”
The gesture of Danjuma to the institution would surprise no one. Since its establishment in 2008, the TY Danjuma Foundation has assisted in health care, education and income generation initiatives. It has given out grants put at over $500,000 to over 50 Non-Governmental Organisations that work in these key sectors.
The Foundation recently supported some NGOs to embark on the provision of free medical services; surgeries, eye care and addressing some tropical diseases in Taraba and Edo states. It is also involved in the provision of water facilities and assisting with hygiene and water sanitation training. It is also currently working with some NGOs on training teachers, providing educational infrastructure such as libraries and furniture, and providing toilets facilities to enhance girl child attendance. The income generation initiative targets youth employment and women empowerment to reduce poverty and ensure self reliance for women.