Theophilus Danjuma – Nigeria’s Top Ten Boardroom Leaders

Theophilus Danjuma is chairman of May & Baker and many other companies including the south Atlantic petroleum Ltd – an upstream and downstream company. Here is a former military general that crossed over to the marketplace and continued to command. Since the era of deregulation in the 1980s, competition in business has taken the form of a lethal combat. That perhaps explains why a former army chief is again a chieftain in the boardroom.

 Strategy is a word first used in military tactics to engage the enemy in the battle field. Danjuma is perhaps one of those who took the word to business after discovering that competition equally made the marketplace a battle ground. His strategic engagement in the ruling sector of the economy has earned him a top position amongst Nigeria’s boardroom titans.

Danjuma is an exemplary blend of a military tactician and a business strategist- an uncommon combination that has paid off in terms of money. A consummate entrepreneur and investor, he is counted among Africa’s wealthiest businessmen.

Danjuma hails from Taraba State and apparently benefitted from his late hardworking father, who combined farming with trading on farm implements. When he left military service in 1979, he saw an opportunity in Nigeria’s new trade agreement with Brazil, which opened up trade routes between Lagos and the Americas. He capitalized on this opportunity and formed Nigeria America Line [NAL].

A boom from the bulk purchase of Nigeria’s national supply company, include project cargoes for Iwopin Paper Mill among others was about to begin. Danjuma’s NAL handled the bulk of the shipping business and its capacity expand significantly when the Nigerian maritime Authority began to encourage  indigenous operators to claim their share of internationally traded cargo in the late 1980s.

A rapid growing volume of shipping business created another big opportunity in the handling of vessels and cargoes. Danjuma again moved in strategically to form a shipping agency, which became one of the largest independent agents in Nigeria able to handle hundred of different types of vessels and cargo.

Danjuma is driven by the principle of striving to be the best t what he does. While in the military, he reached the peak of that profession as chief of army staff. In business, his company became the largest independent port operator in Africa with the acquisition of RORO port in 2005. His is acclaimed to be one of the most successful indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria with a number of subsidiaries engaged in different areas of operations.

He has wide business interest covering oil servicing, under water engineering, terminal operation, electrical supply/installation, fishing, consumer goods imports and clearing and forwarding. One of his companies is engaged in local manufacture of electric transformers a leading example o local capacity building, dependence on local materials and technology transfer. He is also a major portfolio investor in leading companies in many sectors of the economy including financial services manufacturing and energy.