• Monday, May 20, 2024
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Herbert Wigwe: How could this be?

Wigwe’s PA recounts how luggage stopped him from joining ill-fated chopper

The tragic death of Dr Herbert Wigwe, a generous and kind-hearted businessman, and his family is a cause for concern. The United States aviation authorities should conduct thorough investigations into the helicopter crash, which involved the callousness of the operators. Nigerian air accident investigators are collaborating with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to uncover the cause. The operators of these helicopters should not be rented due to poor maintenance or treacherous weather conditions.

Herbert Wigwe, a Nigerian businessman and professor, has died in a helicopter crash in California. His sudden death has left millions of Nigerians, including Access Bank customers, shareholders, and employees, as well as workers working on building Wigwe University. The tragedy has sparked questions about the Bible’s explanation for such sudden deaths and the reasons behind their sudden passing. The last time a young Nigeria’s death was so painful was in 1986, with Dele Giwa’s death and Herbert Wigwe’s tragic death causing immense pain and distress.

Read also: 7 Herbert Wigwe quotes Nigerians will not forget

The narrator was chatting with Herbert before his death, who was known to respond promptly. However, he had not opened his phone for 15 hours on Saturday, causing a sense of foreboding. The narrator planned to call Herbert after a meeting, but a call from a friend confirmed their fears, confirming their hunch.

Herbert was a remarkable individual who maintained his humanity despite his high achievements. He maintained connections with both the mighty and the low, maintaining a witty, kind, humorous, and amiable demeanour. Herbert was passionate about youth and created mentorship programs for them. His philanthropic activities are well-known, but his legacy is establishing a university for the ‘fearless’ generation. The people he assembled to midwife the institution have vowed to carry on the dream, making Herbert a timeless legacy.

Working with Herbert at Access Bank, I realised early on that he was imbued with courage, boldness, determination, and all the epithets that define fearlessness. The vision, mission, and values of the bank were underpinned by the drive to conquer all obstacles and excel. It was for nothing that we called ourselves ‘’Access Warriors’’.

I first met him on a Sunday afternoon in March 2008, when I appeared before him for an interview to join the bank. I was already used to his cherubic face in the press, but in real life, Herbert looked serious and businesslike, and his beady eyes were penetrating.

I was slightly uncomfortable, but I was determined not to be intimidated. He asked just a few questions. My five years in the bank turned out to be some of the most rewarding.

The bank’s meteoric growth in the over 21 years he and his friend and partner, Aigboje, have been in charge reflects their collective business acumen. Herbert took over from Aig in January 2014, leading the bank through various growth phases until 2022, when it was restructured into a holding company structure.

As the group CEO of Access Corporation, the holding company, Herbert added economic diplomacy to his huge responsibilities. He visited foreign leaders and spoke about the African Renaissance, the climate crisis, green energy, the role of technology in finance, and the importance of giving our youths the opportunities they deserve as the bank expanded across Africa into Europe and Asia. The bank has invested billions of dollars in the 15 African economies it has operations in. The messages from Presidents Emmanuel Macron of France and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa say it all.

I have reached out to Aig and a few other members of the Access family. The group has lost three members in as many months. This must be the most difficult moment in the life of the institution, but I’m heartened to note that Aig has pledged to ensure that Herbert’s personal dreams, including the university, are not aborted. Now Herbert’s children are orphans. Losing their parents in such a circumstance could be traumatic. I trust that Aig will now step in to play a fatherly role for them (Proverbs 18:24).

Read also: Atedo Peterside: Herbert Wigwe was a visionary leader, philanthropist, mentor to many

I am told that we should not question the decisions of the Almighty God. I have also been told that God is not capable of doing bad things. But the mysteries of this life continue to confound me. Why are the good ones dying off so suddenly? While those who have stolen from this country and mismanaged it continue to flourish, others who worked hard to contribute to its development are quickly taken from us, some so violently.

The last message Herbert sent to me was that he would never be discouraged from working to change Nigeria positively. The development of this country was his obsession. May his aged parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues be consoled.