Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma

Lindsay Barrett, author of the biography, “Danjuma: The Making of a General,” highlights legacies and testaments to General T.Y. Danjuma’s philanthropy

As 2017 drew to a close, the observance of the 80th birthday of retired General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, GCFR, proved to be Nigeria’s most prestigious social event of the year. A high profile church service at Christchurch Cathedral on the Lagos Marina, followed by an all-night open air party by the ocean at the Atlantic City beachfront construction site on his birthday, December 9, emerged as venues of choice for a broad cross-section of elite guests from all over West Africa and beyond. As was to be expected, tributes and special accolades were showered on the celebrant by several important figures. However, it is quite likely that the most profoundly emotional sentiments were being felt on that day thousands of kilometres away in the town of Takum, in Taraba State, where the General was born. A few days after the celebration in Lagos, the Rufkatu Danjuma Maternity Centre, a state-of-the art maternity hospital named after his mother, was opened in Takum. This medical centre has been adjudged to be one of the best of such institutions anywhere in northern Nigeria and it now stands as a monument to a lifetime of service and devotion to the welfare of the people of his birthplace.

Visitors to Takum will not find it difficult to identify the town with its most famous son. Billboards in various quarters of the town proclaim gratitude and praise for the contributions and achievements that are credited either to him personally or to his charitable foundation. These have become landmark signposts of the universal respect that most people throughout Taraba State express for the General. He is widely regarded as the patriarch of the younger generation of leaders in the state, and political careers have been made or destroyed simply on the issue of whether the General will give his support to, or withdraw it from, some ambitious aspirants.

In spite of this, many citizens of the state say that he is noted for a firm sense of discipline, which has kept him free from being tainted by partisan loyalties in the state. He is widely regarded as having been the major sponsor of the incumbent governor of the state, Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku of the PDP, who is also from Takum.
But many people told us that aspirants in other parties must also seek his endorsement if they are to have any chance of success at the polls.

The deep loyalty and impartial respect that General Danjuma enjoys in his home state, especially in his birthplace, has evolved from a long record of commitment to the welfare and development of communities throughout the state. He was responsible as Chief of Army Staff for the installation of a major military barracks in Takum. Today, it is known as ADA Barracks, the headquarters of the 93rd Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

Abubakar Adams, a journalist from neighbouring Donga who served as an official in the Ministry of Defence, has related the story of how, while the barracks had been named after the General when he retired from the army, he changed its name when he became Minister of Defence over two decades later. Takum is now the capital of a major agricultural local government Nigeria’s northeastern geopolitical zone, and while neglect of some services such as federal access roads still affect its economic viability negatively, the general’s commitment to the provision of effective services has ensured that the town is a major urban centre.

The state governor is proud of his connection with his hometown’s most illustrious scion and has attributed substantial value in his personal life and success in his corporate career to his adherence to principles that he has inherited from long interaction with General Danjuma, starting in his childhood.