Nigerian oil magnate and former defense minister, TY Danjuma just might be a different breed. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma has put over $100 million of his own money into his Charity, the TY Danjuma Foundation- making it one of Africa’s largest charities, and Danjuma, the country’s biggest philanthropist.
TY Danjuma, a retired military General was Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff in the 70s and served as the Minister of Defense during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure between 1999 and 2003. Danjuma has always been one of Nigeria’s most influential people. He was a close ally, loyalist and confidante of the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, who rewarded General Danjuma with an oil block.
The block, which was located in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta region, was left unexploited for several years. In 2006, he reportedly sold it to China’s offshore oil company CNOOC for what Theophilus Danjuma said was $1 billion. After taxes, and paying off various dues, he said was left with over $500 million.
But he did not know what to do with the money, so he set up the TY Danjuma foundation with a $100 million endowment. During a public forum in February 2010, he recounted his reasons for setting up the charity:
“This was extra money I did not know what to do with. I did not just want to leave the money in the bank. At some point, I thought about saving the money for my children, but I decided against it. I realized that they could fight over the money after I’m dead. So, I decided, why not give back to my people.”
The TY Danjuma Foundation is a private independent grant making philanthropic organization based in Abuja, Nigeria which makes grants to and partners with Non Governmental organizations that champion and promote causes in Education, free healthcare, policy advocacy and poverty alleviation.
Theophilus Danjuma believes he’s a philanthropist. He currently devotes his time and energies towards managing South Atlantic Petroleum, a leading indigenous oil exploration and production company he founded, while dabbling in affairs of state once in a while.