Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe is the upwardly mobile MD/CEO of Access Bank Nigeria PLC, but beneath his professional career as a banker, he has a passionate craving for children. Little wonder he spear headed the floating of an NGO, which he aptly after his initials HOW, to cater for children in many areas of their needs.
Recently at a sensitization/seminar program of the foundation in Lagos, the modest Herbert Wigwe unfounded the core reasons behind the formation of the organization.
Having come from a background that elicited more about how young people could excel in life, it was not surprising to many who attended the seminar that Herbert Wigwe knew what he wanted ab initial from the project. He spoke to a cross section of the press on how the foundation came about. Excerpts. ..
What is this idea of HOW all about?
By the three letters, they are the acronym of Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe Foundation, and NGO so to speak. It has to do basically with getting things done and how to achieve success, how to empower people, how to get people to be the best they can be, and not about giving excuses but creating the platform for reasons to succeed. It is something I personally and genuinely identify with, especially at the level of growing up children in their areas of specific abilities.
Can you please give us more insight into this event?
It is just the starting point of trying to help and mentor children. To make them be the best they can be. You know one of the problems we have in our system today is that the children of nowadays are not being well-mentored and their values are not intact or positively harnessed.
At different times in my generation, I have thought one of the thing I could do to give back them, help them to shape their value system and encourage them to be the very best they can be. This is essentially what this event is all about in a nutshell but you will get to know more about it in the course of this interaction.
Is it going to be on a yearly basis and how is it going to be programmed?
Even it is not going to be on a monthly basis but a daily basis because we will be moving from one school to the other. The CEO of the foundation will determine how it is going to happen, what is required, and other logistics to ensure a smooth take off. My own job is to provide funds and to reach out to people who will mentor these children on how to shape their value system. The value of working hard to achieve their goals. We will reach out to as many children as we can in the country. Today's event is obviously an example of how the program will be, because we are going to have a larger number in all parts of the country. It will be a program for hundreds of thousands of children across the country.
Apart from holding seminars, are there other programs you have in plan for these children?
there will be seminars that will be aimed at helping them in capacity building and their careers in view, vis-a-viz other components that will ensure them to attained their full potential. It all about the overall development of these children, it about teaching the intrinsic values of hardwork and diligence, it about helping them to shape their future and letting them know they can be the best they aspired to be without unnecessary stresse or encumbrances. It is also about teaching them the basic of ethical, social and moral values.
What advices do you have for the leaders or the President about the mentoring of children?
First and foremost, most of us adults have that responsibility, and it is not about the president or leaders of the country alone. Things have changed so fundamentally over time and we have to go down to the basics of capacity building. One of the things our foundation will do at a later stage, has to do with even supporting them in the universities and other tertiary institutions, creating strong educational background, because the young people are truly the people that hold the future of the country.
No doubt, you are very passionate about this foundation, did your growing up have anything to do with it?
We all grew up in interest circumstances, it was at a time that there was unity, it was time when children from diverse cultures came together, went to same schools, and we learnt how to tolerate each other, and lived together as one. For example, if there were issues in faraway Maiduguri, it will hurt me as if I was born there. But with time, people became so much care free about what happens to people who are not from their own side. For me I think it is not the right thing to happen, I believe it is one country, one people and we should strive hard to be the best we can be. I believe we should take away the stigma of all these sorts of things from the psyche of our children and let them be the best they can be.
There are students here from elite and urban schools like Kings College, Queens College and Saint Gregorys College, what about the schools in the rural areas?
We are also bringing them onboard and reaching out to more schools and I believ we are going to get better. The foundation is not about elite schools alone, it's all-embracing.
For a foundation that is just nine months old, how would you gauge your achievement so far?
It is a good start already and it is too early for us to start assessing ourselves or ascribing any achievement yet. I think in three or four years time everybody will know about the foundation in Nigeria and that's when we can begin to measure our achievements or otherwise. I also think several children will have benefited from it by that time. Then we will be marking ourselves about how many children we have been able to influence, which schools we are going and when they are graduating we will have people who will be concerned about the cases of the children, especially those who are showing strong promises.
If you weren't the MD/CEO of Access Bank, what do you think would have happened?
Nothing would have been different but maybe I would have had a better time for it. But if you understand how Access Bank is involve and how volunteering is a natural part of us, then you will know me better. Because this is an extension of what we do naturally at Access Bank.
Growing up as a child, who did you fear most in your life; your dad or your mum?
Naturally, I fear the two, but there other people I grow up to fear because if I misbehaved outside, my uncles could discipline me in the same manner as my parents. The entire system and environment where I was brought up influenced me; the fact that I went to primary school in the North afforded me the rare opportunity to appreciate and respect people from different environments and backgrounds.
I believe we have diverse cultures but we are one people and once you have good values, they are constant and universal.
How do you relax?
Away from my regular routine as a banker and manager of human and material resources which in itself is a familiar ground to me, I enjoy being in the company children, kids particularly, which I use to service as a leisure provider in my spare time. And this has always been what amuses me whenever I am in their midst, which particularly informed this foundation, I must confess. And that's exactly what I am doing here today.