Corporate Nigeria Can Do More in Education, Healthcare, Says Yemi Idowu

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Chief Yemi Idowu is a trustee of the Nathaniel Idowu Foundation (NIF), which  pursues the philanthropic ideals of his late father, the renown  Chief Nathaniel Idowu.  Mr. Idowu spoke during a recent Primary Healthcare Summit held via Zoom in Lagos. The Dream Daily was there. Excerpt

Your father Chief Nathaniel Idowu the late Aare Mayeloye and the First Okanlomo of Ibadanland lived a philanthropic life through and through. He built schools, hospitals, donated business grants and scholarships, helped Nigerians and foreigners, young and old, Christians or Muslims. His generosity transcended his birthplace, Ibadan and Nigeria, his country.

As far as philanthropy goes, Chief Nathaniel Idowu was and remains a tough act to follow. How have you able to sustain this legacy?

My father passed on to eternal glory a decade ago, precisely February 20, 2010, but we have continued his legacy through the Nathaniel Idowu Foundation (NIF).    

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

Nathaniel Idowu Foundation has been at the forefront of supporting healthcare in the country,please share more details of your recent activities?

In 2018, the Nathaniel Idowu Foundation donated a N350 million 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 , Professor Yemi Osibajo 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 the renovation and expansion of  three animal research houses for the University of Ibadan .

In 2020 the foundation also 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, Professor Olayinka and under the chairmanship of the Pro-Chancellor, Mr. Ned Joshua Waklek, mni.

What are some of your objectives ?

Our aim is to reduce preventable diseases that do not necessitate curative treatment at tertiary medical institutions.  As a non-profit and charitable organization, 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 thirty 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.

So what is the motivation behind this strategy ?

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 Nathaniel Idowu 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 did you choose Education and Healthcare?

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

Would you be expanding the program further ?

We have been modest in publicizing our charity endeavors. However, showcasing the successes, benefits and impact of philanthropic contributions can go a long way in encouraging more people and corporate organisation to contribute to society’s advancement.”

How can we see 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? Please explain.

Given the resources available, the College of Medicine, Ibadan continues to outperform its peers ‘dollar for dollar’ on a means tested basis. The scholarly articles and research are top class – they have outperformed based on resources. As a foundation, we derive immense satisfaction from this fact.

Late Chief Nathaniel Idowu was a sports enthusiast in his lifetime and extended his charity work to the sports arena. What are you doing for sports?

We have a program 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 programs and we hope to train individuals to develop and create programs 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 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 CSR?

Many companies already do well in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). I enjoin them to continue in that spirit because it is a continuous process. They can do more especially in the area of healthcare as an investment in the health of the current and next generation of Nigerians. Corporate and private individuals indeed should do more as government cannot do it alone.

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