By Chris Ochayi
ABUJAâ€”FORMER Defence Minister, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), has donated N15 billion ($100 million) to provide free medical and education services for under-privileged Nigerians.
The donation, made to the TY Danjuma Foundation, would be distributed as grant through accredited non-governmental organisations, NGOs, to ensure effective implementation of the vision of the foundation.
Gen. Danjuma, who is the founder and Chairman, Board of Trustees, of the foundation, said at a consultative meeting, organised for NGOs in Abuja, yesterday, that activities of the foundation would cover the entire nation.
The board has already approved a number of commencement grants that were being implemented mostly in Taraba and Edo states.
According to him, â€œthe theme of this meeting is a crucial one for our country. Nigeria is currently going a series of trials but most urgent are the abject poverty facing the countryâ€™s citizens and the weak state of our social sector, particularly the education and health sectorsâ€.
The Former Chief of Army Staff, COAS, said, â€œthe Nigerian government no matter how noble its intentions cannot address these challenges on its ownâ€, adding, â€œin fact, in all developed countries, the implementation of social projects is never the sole responsibility of government.
â€œThere are often strong collaborations between government, Non-Governmental Organisations as well as the private sectorâ€.
Revealing how he made the huge financial success through which he founded the Foundation, the 72 year-old retired Army General recalled that, â€œI retired from the service early at 41 years because I got to the top early. I started shipping business and became reasonably rich.
Twelve years ago, I was allocated an oil block by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha (offshore south of Port Harcourt) near Sao Tome and Nigeria. We discovered a lot of oil. It took ten years (1998-2009) before we got our first oil.
Because of the prevailing high oil price, Danjuma said he decided to forward the selling to an international firm, a Chinese company which â€œwe made over $1 billion. He said, â€œI paid my taxes and ended up with about $500 millionâ€.
â€œI had a new problem on what to do with this money. In the bank they will steal it and if I keep it my children will fight over it. So I decided to set up a foundation and endow it enough moneyâ€.
He explained, â€œthis is because services provided by the government in the past have disappeared and I drew up a long list of widows of those who served during the civil war and were killed.
â€œI wanted to solve all Nigeriaâ€™s problems but did not know how to do it and how to start. The only thing I knew about philanthropy is about money been given out and found that only a fraction of such money reaches the target.
It was on this note, he visited the United States on study tour of successful foundations and resolved that, â€œmy Foundation, though Nigerian would operate with the same high standards and efficiency and would remain committed to changing lives for decadesâ€.
The Foundation, which became operation in 2009 he said, the Board approved a number of commencement grants that were implemented mostly in Taraba and Edo States.
â€œMy vision is that the Foundation will play a pivotal role in building a Nigeria where all citizens have access to quality health care, education and equal opportunities to realize their potentialsâ€, he said.