Heartbroken: Nigerians mourn whiz-kid Wigwe

Prominent Nigerians including President Bola Tinubu and some state governors have joined other famous citizens to mourn the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe, who died in a chopper crash in the United States on Friday.

They described the deceased as a brilliant banker under whose leadership the bank grew in leaps and bounds.

Wigwe, his wife, Doreen; son Chizi; and a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, lost their lives in the helicopter crash which occurred near a border town between California and Nevada.

Earlier on Saturday, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, and Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had expressed shock over the death of the top banker and co-travellers.

On Sunday, the president, some state governors, friends and associates described the deceased as an exceptional banker.

Access was ranked 65th when Wigwe and his co-founder bought it, but the bank was reportedly one of the top four by the time he died.

Under his leadership, Access Bank experienced rapid growth including the landmark transformation of the lender into a group or holding company.

The late Access Holdings group chief executive officer was about 36 years old when he co-founded Access Bank.

The Central Bank of Nigeria powerbrokers reportedly said they were young and almost frustrated with the deal.

Under Wigwe, Access Bank which had years earlier acquired Intercontinental Bank, also bought Diamond Bank.

On Sunday, Tinubu described the death of the prominent Nigerians as a monumental loss.

Tinubu mourns

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement said Tinubu who received an official confirmation of the event, also commiserated with Ogunbanjo who was also onboard.

Ngelale said Tinubu mourned these exceptional Nigerian business leaders and described their passing as “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.”

“The President commiserates with the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families, the business community, and all those impacted by this harrowing incident.

“President Tinubu prays for the peaceful repose of the departed and asks God Almighty to comfort the multitude of Nigerians who are grieving and the families of the deceased at this deeply agonising moment.”

This came as Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governor Peter Mba of Enugu State, Alex Otti of Abia State joined other governors to commiserate with the deceased’s family members.

Sanwo-Olu in a statement was quoted as saying, “I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of my dear brother and friend, Dr Herbert Wigwe, his dear wife Doreen, and their beloved son, Chizi, in a helicopter crash.

“Herbert was not just a brother and visionary leader, but one of the brightest minds in Africa. His impact on our nation and beyond will be remembered forever. My heart mourns.

“Herbert’s contributions to banking and the financial sector in Africa were unparalleled. He was an unapologetic believer in the Nigerian solution. His dedication and passion for progress inspired us all.

“Today, we mourn not just a leader but a true friend and brother. Lagos and Nigeria have lost a remarkable soul. Rest in peace, my brother.” Punch

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