Chizoba Wigwe: A Silent Woman Takes Her Final Bow by Ifeoma Ononye

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It’s often said that, ‘Behind every successful man, there is a supportive and resourceful woman’. This is how a bossom friend and renowned journalist, Ijeoma Nwaogwugwu, described the wife of late Herbert Wigwe, Chizoba Wigwe, whom was not well known as a public figure but was ever supportive to the late husband until their untimely death. In Nwogwugwu’s tribute to late Chizoba Wigwe, she said: “Herbert Wigwe everyone knew, but not many knew the backbone behind his immense success.

“I called you Chiz Baby. Queenette Allagoa called you Chiz Burger. Most called you Doreen. I remember when you came back from the United States of America 31 years ago. You were just 26 years old, armed with your university degrees and ready to start life afresh back home. We immediately bonded over our unique family dynamics and love of trading. I remember marvelling at your capacity to switch back and forth from an American accent to a Nigerian English accent with ease. I was immediately drawn to your infectious laughter, which could be heard from a mile away and your tremendous industry.

You were born into privilege, but you were never afraid of hard work. “Despite spending your impres- sionable years growing up in the U.S., we would head out daily to Oke-Arin market in the heart of Lagos Island, where we tried our hands at wholesale trading. I would later drop my forays into Oke-Arin market and give up the shop that my parents had paid for me as I forged a new career in journalism. But you never did, frugally saving and turning around every penny that you made until you became an immensely wealthy and successful businesswoman with interests in construction, real estate and the hospitality sectors.

“I remember the beginnings of your relationship with Queenette, which was to blossom into a lifelong unbreakable sisterhood. Today, she’s inconsolable with- out you, but remains thankful to God for your life. I remember your first meeting with Herbert, then a young, freshly minted General Manager at Guaranty Trust Bank, and the twinkle in your eye, after introductions had been made. It was at Queenette’s house where we used to hangout as young women, laughing our heads off and without a care in the world. I remember your wed- ding to Herbert and the reception at the Muson Centre. I remember Chizi’s birth a few months after and Tochi’s four years later.

We would still hangout at Queen-ette’s house where Herbert would often turn up after work to pick you up but only after he had helped himself to a hearty meal of edi kai kong, afang or fisherman’s soup that were regular staples at Queenette’s abode.” She revealed that the late Chizoba was the face behind Craneburg Construction Company, which has now become one of the leading indigenous construction companies in Nigeria.

The company engaged executing road, infrastructure and building projects across the country. Ijeoma narated that it was Chiz Wigwe’s construction firm, Craneburg that built the highways, bridges and toll plaza from Lekki Phase II all the way to and within Epe town, making the journey to Ijebu Ode in Ogun State less arduous. Her construction firm also built roads and flyovers in Ondo, Imo, Adamawa, Ogun, Bauchi, Gombe and other states. Late Wigwe took on airport construc- tion projects, oil and gas, and marine projects like fish to water.

Today, Craneburg is one of Nigeria’s largest, diversified construction groups that employs 7,000 people working across all major sectors of the economy. The late Chizoba Doreen Wigwe died with her husband, Herbert, son and three in a chopper crash in Carlifornia, USA, nearly two weeks ago.

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