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Government can’t do it alone, support of individuals, corporate organisations is vital – Yemi Idowu

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health. Photo: EXPATICA

Chief Yemi Idowu is the Trustee, Nathaniel Idowu Foundation. The renowned philanthropist explains why the Foundation is passionate about the health and sport sectors. At a recent Primary Healthcare Summit held via Zoom in Lagos, he urged individuals and corporate organisations to support government’s efforts in providing quality health service delivery for Nigerians.

The late Aare Mayeloye and the First Okanlomo of Ibadanland, Chief Nathaniel Idowu, who happened to be your father, was a well-known philanthropist. He built schools, hospitals, gave grants and scholarships to indigent but intelligent Nigerians and foreigners, young and old, Christians and Muslims. His generosity transcended his birthplace, Ibadan and Nigeria, his country. How have you been able to sustain this legacy?

MY father died a decade ago, precisely on February 20, 2010. We have continued with his legacy through the Nathaniel Idowu Foundation (NIF).

In 2010, we formalised all philanthropic activities with a major focus on youth sports, education and healthcare. Also, we only deal with approved selected corporate partners and not individuals.

How fare is Nathaniel Idowu Foundation in its healthcare support programmes in the country?
This year 2020, the foundation donated the first drug testing and Toxicology Unit in West Africa to the Ibadan College of Medicine to commemorate its 40th anniversary celebration under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka and under the chairmanship of the Pro-Chancellor, Mr. Ned Joshua Waklek.

In 2018, the Foundation donated a N350m Multidisciplinary Translational Research Complex to the College of Medicine at the University of Ibadan (UI), which comprises purpose-designed laboratories, teaching rooms and offices.

The facility was commissioned by the current Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in the presence of many dignitaries, including the Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan. This was part of a N500m investment made during the same period, which included renovation and expansion of three animal research houses for the University of Ibadan.

Specifically, what is the target of the Foundation’s activities in the health sector?
Our aim is to reduce preventable diseases that do not necessitate curative treatment at tertiary medical institutions.

As a non-profit and charitable organisation, we have been championing private and public sector partnership in healthcare support across the country. Nathaniel Idowu Foundation already provides healthcare in rural communities. We have operated primary healthcare centres in Oyo State for over 30 years. These centres have been upgraded over the years, through our long-term partnership with many committed health professionals, the support of University College Hospital (UCH) and the College of Medicine, Ibadan.

What motivated this investment?
These centres have been a great success over the years, catering for over 10,000 people yearly. This success has been the major motivator for us as a family. The Foundation is active in infrastructure support for rural healthcare with several primary healthcare facilities built in conjunction with global multilateral agencies. We are actively involved in Education and Healthcare support with approved selected corporate partners.

The Foundation is the largest funder and donor to the World Health Organisation’s recognised primary healthcare initiative through its clinics at Eniosa and Sagbe in Ibadan, Oyo State. Recently, the Federal Government adopted the model for expansion of primary healthcare for rural areas.”

Why the focus on education and healthcare?
We believe education and healthcare investment have the best socio-economic performance outcomes compared to other investments on a long-term basis. It usually takes a while to see the benefits but it is worth the wait.

Is there plan to expand the programme?
We have been modest in publicising our charity endeavours. However, showcasing the successes, benefits and impacts of philanthropic contributions can go a long way in encouraging more people and corporate organisations to contribute to society’s advancement.

How real is the impact?
We are certain that the foundation’s support for the University College Hospital (UCH) and the College of Medicine, UI is paying ample dividends. Look at their current global ratings: the College of Medicine, Ibadan has an ever-increasing alumni of excellent professionals, both at home and abroad. The College is now highly rated internationally and featured in the most recent English Times list of excellent Medical Institutions in Africa.

Why do you say that?
Given the resources available, the College of Medicine, Ibadan continues to outperform its peers. The scholarly articles and researches are top class. The college has outperformed based on resources. As a foundation, we derive immense satisfaction from that.

Chief Nathaniel Idowu was a sports enthusiast in his lifetime. He extended his charity work to the sports arena. What are you doing for sports?
We have a programme called Nathaniel Boys’ Sports, which we hope to expand to include girls very soon. We are unable to fund individuals, but we run our own programmes and we hope to train individuals to develop and create programmes that will become self -sustaining for school age children.

What is your message to other corporations and individuals looking to engage in philanthropic activities?
We can all do more for the society, especially in our immediate community. I would advise them to start from home, then they must formalise their activities. We can all do more to support the government in the health sector.

Do you mean Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
Many companies already do well in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). I enjoin them to continue in that spirit . They can do more, especially in the area of health care. Corporate and private individuals indeed should do more as government cannot do it alone.


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