Pushed to Inspire the Next Generation


Joshua Ajitena, UK-based Nigerian, world-renowned motivational speaker and chief executive of Genero Living, had a terrible upbringing and went off the rails at some point in his life. But he picked up the pieces and moved on. Today, he is a success story and role model for thousands of young people around the world. He was recently in Nigeria and spoke at a seminar powered by the Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe (HOW) Foundation, where he inspired youths with a personal testimony of his life. Mary Ekah writes

Born in Kano State, Nigeria, Joshua Ajitena through divine intervention relocated to the United Kingdom (UK) in the mid-nineties, where he lives presently and works as a motivational speaker. He runs Genero Living, a network that inspires, educate and challenge individuals to be creative. He holds a BA degree in Marketing; and a Masters degree in Marketing Communications and Consultancy.

As a successful motivational speaker, who had a staggering childhood, Ajitena is well able to show young people how they can come from nothing and really make something of themselves. Today, Ajitena does it all– He’s a motivational speaker, TV host, author and the list goes on and on and most importantly, he is so passionate about changing lives for better. Today, he focuses basically on working with teens a lot and one of the reasons for that is that he had a wild upbringing and wouldn’t want any young person to go through same.

Having had a terrible upbringing, Ajitena was forced to go off the rails at a point in his life but by God’s divine leadings, he was able pick up the pieces of his life and forged ahead. Today, he is a success story and role model to thousands of young people around the world. No wonder the Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe (HOW) Foundation, saw him as the appropriate person to speak at it’s just concluded seminar tagged, ‘Be the Best’, held recently in Lagos.

Ajitena who is presently regarded as the perfect mentor that young Nigerians need to realise their full potentials, during the ‘Be the Best’ seminar, powered by The Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe Foundation, shared with young Nigerians how he rose from a hopeless situation to emerge as the best motivational speaker in the UK.

Talking about his mission to Nigeria, he said, “My name is Joshua Oluseyi Ajitena. I came all the way from the United Kingdom to inspire young Nigerians at a seminar with theme ‘Be the Best”, organised by the Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe (HOW) Foundation, founded by Dr. Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank.”

He described the ‘Be the Best’ seminar as amazing saying that the concept behind the seminar is to inspire the next generation. “We are teaching them the importance of believing in themselves and how they can be the best in what they do; how they can be the best in their education, in community around them and to their parents and in life in general and simply just enjoy what they are do in life,” he said.
Ajitena believes that when we teach young people, giving them the right tools and the right mindset to be the best, their future will be blessed.

On what inspires him generally, the young motivational speaker said, “I love young people and being that when I was young myself, I was one of those kids that went off the rails because I didn’t have a good start in life but after growing up and going into a few things, I started to realise that if only I had what I am giving to them now, life would have been a little more better earlier than it is with me today.

“So I want to be a role model, something positive because it is not enough for me that young Nigerian people are looking at celebrities, especially the Americans, as their role models, rather, I want them to have as roles models people that look like them, sound like them and talk like them, people that they can have access to and that they can listen to and understand where they are coming from. So I have a passion for young people and I believe they are leaders of tomorrow and to all the parents, I believe that your children are your best pension. So I believe in inspiring them and adding value to their lives and that is one of the things that pushes me just to inspire the next generation,” Ajitena added.

Ajitena, who described the Nigerian youths as being so passionate, noted however that they lacked the right resources. “They have the ideas, they have creativity, in fact I think Nigeria right about now entering into a phase of extreme creativity in the sense that people are coming out with great ideas and Nigerians are discovering more of their own creative edge, which is a beautiful thing. However, what they lack is a platform on which they can actually show off their creativity. And I believe what HOW Foundation stands for is giving these young ones the platform where they can be as creative as they want and I believe that in another few years, the Nigerian youths are going to be a stronger force even in Africa and the world over,” he said.

He expects that after the seminar, young people who attended will be on fire for achieving greatness. “I expect a change and difference in attitude towards their lectures, education and life generally. I expect them to have attitudes that are more optimistic, more challenging and more inspiring towards life,” he noted.

He specifically advised the youths to be themselves in everything they set out to do. “Be yourself, be comfortable in your own scheme, never try to be like anyone else, and don’t run someone else’s race. Know what is good for you and know your own strength.” He specifically told the youths to accept their weaknesses “but never allow them to weigh you down. Most importantly, be yourself. Be comfortable in yourself and be happy for being you.”

Interestingly, young and intelligent Ajitena had a few words for President Muhammadu Buhari: “If I were to meet Mr. President, I will tell him that he has answers to every problem weighing down the nation in his hands. The young people are the answer. It is all about innovation. Innovation for me is doing what we would normally do but in a more relevant way.

So if you want to know the best way to lead these people, speak with them. Innovation is doing what we have done back then but doing it in a different way. Let’s talk to the young people, ask them how they would have faired if they were Mr. President and then listen to them in return and how they want to rule and be ruled. Mr. President, you have the answers in your hand. These young people are the answers. We are going to lead them but let’s understand them and nothing is better than that.”

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank and founder of HOW Foundation, Dr. Wigwe, said the event was just a starting point to mentor young children and teach them to be the best they can be in whatever they chose to do.

“One of the problems we have is that we have children coming up but who are not being well mentored and whose values are not in place and all of that. This is different from our own generation and I thought that one of the things we could do to change that is to reach out to as many children as possible, mentor them, try to shape their value system and encourage them to be the very best they can be.”

Wigwe explained further that his responsibility, basically, is to continue to provide support and get people to mentor these children and instill in them the value of working hard and all of that.

“Today’s event is just the first of several events, we intend to have it in much larger platforms in future where several thousands of children would be reached but more importantly, we would look for events that are fun that children enjoy so that we can actually speak to them while they enjoy themselves. It is about development of children and teaching them about value of hard work, ethics and helping them to determine how they can shape their future and letting them know that they can be the best that they want to be,” he said.

“It is for all of us to mentor these children for the future of our country and things have changed fundamentally over time, and except we go back to the basics of building capacity and all of that, we may not get it right.”

Talking about one of the things that HOW Foundation will do at a later stage, Wigwe said was to support them to universities by perhaps also owning its own university to build children and also create strong educational backgrounds for them as they truly hold the future of the country.

“We grew up in certain circumstances and at a different time, obviously. It was a time when there was unity. It was a time when you have children getting into school on the basis of merit. It was a time when you have children put together from diverse culture and they learned how tolerate and live together as one. I grew up in an environment where several people influenced me. If I misbehaved outside, my uncle could discipline me in the same manner as my parents would. So the entire system and the environment in which I was brought up influenced me, although obviously, my parents were the determining impact”, the Access Bank boss noted.

He said that although the Foundation is barely nine months, that it has started so well, adding, “I think it is a good start and what I can let you know is that in about four years time, you would see it all over the place, many people will know about the Foundation and several children would have benefited from it.”
Wigwe had one more wish even as one at the helm of affairs at Access Bank. “I wish I had more time for HOW foundation,” adding, “If you understand how Access Bank has evolved and the fact that volunteering is a natural part of all of us, perhaps you would know me a bit better. This is just like an extension of the things we normally do at Access Bank.”