• Friday, February 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Grief in Nigeria as billionaire banking Czar, Wigwe, dies in chopper crash

Good deeds speak for Herbert Wigwe

…Wife, son, business partner also victims

…Reactions trail sad development

A pall of sadness enveloped Nigeria Saturday when the news broke that one of the nation’s finest banking Czars, Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings, has died in a helicopter crash, with five others in California, United States of America.

The pain became more intense when it was gathered that the accident also claimed his wife, son, and a business partner, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, a former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group).

Sources said that the chopper was headed to Las Vegas when it crashed near a border city between Nevada and California Friday night.

Read also: Herbert Wigwe, 57 dies 21 days after tweeting ‘Lets number our days’

The US Federal Aviation Administration said a helicopter crashed Friday night near Nipton, California, with six people on board.

The circumstances of the crash, the exact location and time had not been confirmed as at the time the paper went to bed.

His love of country

BusinessDaySunday gathered that part of his last days’ activities include a visit to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, where he and his team engaged in discussions with the minister.

Their mission it was also gathered was to forge a groundbreaking synergy that would elevate the nation’s airports to global standards.

At the meeting, Access Bank pledged to undertake the refurbishment of vital airport facilities, including toilets, lifts, and other visible infrastructure.

In exchange, the bank secured a visibility barter agreement, signaling a strategic partnership aimed at enhancing both customer experience and national pride.

During the negotiations that lasted for hours, Wigwe’s passion for his country’s aviation sector was visible. His enthusiasm was not merely a business facade but a genuine commitment to fostering progress and excellence.

Beyond the boardroom, Wigwe’s charisma and warmth endeared him to all who crossed his path. His rapport with the Minister transcended the confines of business, as they exchanged banter and sealed their agreement with a handshake, emblematic of their shared vision for a prosperous Nigeria.

His passion for education

His burning passion for quality education in Nigeria moved him to establish a university that is described as top notch by those who have caught a glimpse of it. The project located in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is yet to be inaugurated before his tragic death.

Reaction

Reacting to the sad news, Tunde Moshood, special adviser Media and Communications to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, conveyed Keyamo’s sadness thus:

“Tragic Loss: Remembering Herbert Wigwe, the Visionary CEO of Access Holdings
“In a shocking turn of events, the world just bid a painful farewell to Herbert Wigwe, the esteemed CEO of Access Holdings, who died in a tragic helicopter crash that claimed his life, beloved wife, child, and business partner, Bimbo Ogunbanjo.

“Their journey, which began with ambitious business aspirations, ended abruptly, leaving behind a void felt not only in the corporate world but also in the hearts of those who knew them.

“Wigwe, a luminary in the banking and financial sector, was not merely a tycoon chasing profits; he was a visionary leader with a fervent dedication to his nation’s progress. His untimely demise occurred during a crucial juncture, as he sought to revolutionise Nigeria’s aviation infrastructure.”

The man Herbert Wigwe

Herbert Wigwe was deputy managing director at Access Bank from 2002 and became its group managing director/chief executive officer in 2014.

Previously, he was an executive director in charge of Institutional Banking at Guaranty Trust Bank and before then, he was a management consultant for Coopers & Lybrand before qualifying as a chartered accountant.

Wigwe also served as the chairman of Access Bank (Ghana), Access Investment & Securities Limited, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) and was the current chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited and Unified Payments Services Limited.

He is a board member of Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company and a member of the advisory Board for Friends Africa.

Wigwe graduated from University of Nigeria, Nsukka and received a B SC. Degree in Accountancy; a Master’s degree in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor); a Master of Science degree in Financial Economics from the University of London and is an Alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, a Fellow of the Institute of Credit Administration, and an Honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Wigwe was named 2016 Banker of The Year separately by The Sun and Vanguard newspapers, two of Nigeria’s biggest newspapers.

In recognition of his exemplary role in the society and contributions to youth development, the Boys’ Brigade (BB), inaugurated Herbert Wigwe, as State Patron for Lagos State Council in 2016.

In October 2022, a Nigerian national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) was conferred on him by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He was born on August 15, 1966 and hailed from Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.