Dr Sabo Tanimu is the Founder and President of the Tanimu Foundation. He has a strong passion for philanthropy having grown in an environment where he saw people in dire need. A 1995 graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he moved to the United States in 1998 for more academic pursuits.
He is a Gastroenterologist with a subspecialty in Endoscopic Oncology at Marshfield Clinic in Weston, Wisconsin, USA, and also affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Ascension Good Samaritan Hospital-Weston and Ascension St. Michael’s Hospital. A Fellow of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and an Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
What prompted the Tanimu Foundation
Dr Sabo Tanimu grew up a natural giver, especially to the less fortunate. One of the primary reasons that sparked his desire to give was the hardship of the people in the community he grew up in. He nursed the ambition to be positively impactful via education.
Hear him; “I carefully nurtured it through my formative years in Tilley Gyado College, Makurdi, Yerwa Government Secondary School, Maiduguri, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. After completing my advanced studies from the United States, executing my lifetime ambition became my top priority. I dedicated a little more than a decade of my life, post-graduation to implementing the programs of Tanimu Foundation”. The primary goal of his foundation is community development via education and Healthcare.
According to Dr Sabo Tanimu, the choice of Makurdi was primarily driven by his life experience. He was born in North Bank, Makurdi, Benue State. He had his primary and early secondary education in Makurdi and saw first hand, the difficulties people were experiencing stemming from poverty, lack of education, unwanted pregnancy, drugs, and more recently unwanted killings and kidnapping.
Over the last 12 years, Dr Sabo Tanimu began with the creation of the Tanimu Foundation. The first step he took was creating scholarship awards for students at SS3 level and 100 level at the university. Some SS3 students are overburden by the cost of registration for WAEC, NECO, JAMB or post JAMB examinations. This according to Dr. Sabo Tanimu is a deal-breaker, which has hindered many students from progressing to the university.
For those students who have made it to 100 level, the cost of registration and housing may be enough financial constraints to trigger a dropout from the institution of higher learning. Dr Tanimu through the Tanimu Foundation began by giving N50, 000 per student for many years and later changed it to N15, 000 per student to have a wider reach and serve more as a catalyst to promote academic progress.
The next component of the Tanimu Foundation was the building of a multi-million Naira ‘Tanimu Foundation Vocational Centre’, which has three arms. The first component is the fashion and design unit which trains mostly girls, who are disadvantaged in the community, for a period of one year and at the end of the training, give them a brand-new sewing machine to help kick start their career. This has been ongoing for about five years.
The second component is the computer-training unit. The section targets students who have graduated from the university or those who are in secondary school, all aimed at improving computer literacy. The Tanimu Foundation gives them basic computer training for a period of six months. They take an examination at the end of the training and are certified in basic computer skills including the use of Excel, PowerPoint, Word application, etc. The third component is the Science training unit.
According to Dr Sabo Tanimu, “We observed over the years, that final year students from secondary schools go to ‘Miracle Centers’ for their final examination, an orchestrated ‘cheating examination centers’, where they are given the answers to NECO or WAEC examination. To circumvent this mischievous attitude, we provide a one-year extra mural computer-based training in science, subjects namely Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. The level of preparedness in science subjects has positively influenced the enrolled students”.
The Tanimu Foundation also has another component called the Tanimu Foundation Ultra-modern Public Library. The primary goal of Dr Sabo Tanimu is to bring about change via education. He believes that the relative lack of enthusiasm in promoting Western education in the northern part of the country is partly to blame for some of the negative undertones in the country, namely Boko Haram, AlmaJiri system, kidnapping, etc.
Hence the need for him to contribute his quota in creating an enabling environment to promote education. A special section dedicated to medical specialty contains books of various sub-specialties in Medicine including books for the United States License Medical examination.
Over the last decade, Dr Sabo Tanimu through the Tanimu Foundation has also provided additional services, including lectures on advances in Gastroenterology, free endoscopic services, donation of endoscopic and surgical accessories to the following facilities: National Hospital Abuja, Benue State University Teaching Hospital Makurdi, Federal Medical Center, Makurdi and Jos University Teaching Hospital, Plateau State.
The culture in the Tanimu Foundation promotes absolute tolerance regardless of religion or ethnicity. Although, it is more dedicated to promoting female education.
Why the diagnostic centre
When Dr Sabo Tanimu commissioned the Tanimu Foundation Ultra-Modern Public library in August 2018, the community leaders met him and asked if he could help build a hospital for the community. He said; “I pondered over it prior to my return to the United States. As you are aware, health-related matters are difficult and sensitive. Knowing I will not be present to provide the desired services and with my deep commitment to quality in healthcare, the least I could do was to improve the awareness of getting diagnostic evaluation prior to treatment in the community”. That was what gave rise to the concept of Tanimu Foundation Diagnostic center.
The diagnostic center has two components. The laboratory unit and the Ultra-sound unit. The laboratory unit performs basic laboratory tests for malaria, typhoid, and screening for HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, etc. Urine and stool studies, blood cultures, genotyping, etc. Ultrasound imaging is performed for abdominal, pelvic and pregnancy-related conditions.
The central component of the diagnostic center is that the cost of services provided is fifty percent of the cost of similar services provided in other parts of the community. The diagnostic Center is supervised by a seasoned consultant radiologist Dr. Mohammed Hameed, a Staff of Benue State University Teaching Hospital.
How Dr Sabo Tanimu Fund the Tanimu Foundation
To ensure that the foundation continues to fund itself, Dr Sabo Tanimu has to think outside the box. First, he bought two houses in Abuja which has an annual revenue of N1.5million and donated them to the Tanimu Foundation. The revenue from the houses helps in funding the foundation’s activities including staff salary, purchase of sewing machines for graduates, payment of utilities and other incidentals.
Secondly, the diagnostic center is a revenue-generating venture, whose services are offered at the minimal cost possible. The revenue generated is used for paying salaries, buying reagents and payment of utilities.
Another source of funding is a booklet of the foundation’s activities, it is produced for distribution to governmental and non-governmental organizations in the United States. The pamphlet depicts 12 years of selfless commitment to improving humanity via self-sponsored and financially consuming ventures of Tanimu Foundation.
According to Dr. Sabo Tanimu, the goal is to present a platform of trust, honesty, and transparency that will serve as a vehicle for channeling assistance from the United States to Nigeria and other African countries. “I am delighted that a Colleague of mine Dr. Jibril Odogba, a Biomedical Engineer based in the United States became our first donor. He donated N500,000 to four students, each receiving N25,000 for a total of five years of academic scholarship. I will start distributing the pamphlet this year and remain very optimistic of a fruitful yield”.
Dr. Sabo Tanimu said, his goal is to get governmental and non-governmental organizations from the United States to help with additional funds beyond what he has done so that the foundation can reach more people in need. “We centered all the activities in Makurdi, Benue State as a pilot study but it is about time to expand our activities to other parts of the country”.