Wigwe: Governors Mourn Ex-access Bank CEO

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Herbert why? Why? Why? You told me you were going for a board meeting in London from where you will head out to the US and return after a few days and immediately come to Abia to see me. So, what happened?

Since this news filtered out, I’ve not been able to put my head down. I spoke to Peggy who was broken but strong. I refused to believe. Many others confirmed but they were also reporting other people. Then comes this call minutes ago from Sola Faleye, my younger friend whom you “acquired” as you took over Diamond Bank. You had severally shared how one of the best things about the acquisition of Diamond Bank was Sola. He was with you everywhere you went but alas, Sola was unreachable all throughout yesterday. For some reason, he had to step down from that ill-fated Chopper to accompany the luggage by road. His name remains on the manifest! It is now clear that you are no more!

What do we tell Tochi and the little ones? Who will tell Mummy Stella and Daddy Shyngle who you celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary two years ago? How about those of us who have come to see you as part of life? Your dream Wigwe University which you told me was going to be the Harvard of Africa? Who will carry on with that dream? We had extensively talked about setting up a scholarship scheme to support brilliant but indigent students. Who will ensure that this dream is delivered?

This death is too big a blow to me personally and all those that knew you closely. You were not only my friend but my brother. Your constant encouragement and sometimes insistence have been very helpful in a lot of decisions one took. Even in the most difficult moment, you were always there to share ideas. You always came from very unpopular perspectives, disagreeing with conventional wisdom. Your can-do spirit was infectious! You would prove book makers wrong, even with your “Mergers and Acquisition” mindset.

I remember taking you up about 15 years ago, quoting a research-based position that over 70% of mergers and acquisition destroy shareholder value. Your response was that Access Bank was in the 30% category!

A few years ago, when a group of friends and I were working on a banking license, you drove to my house unannounced and insisted, “Alex, I’m glad you are working on a new bank, but I came to tell you that you should not run the bank. You have finished with banking; we need you in Abia and Abia needs you. We must get some of us that have the courage to go into public office, and you must remain there!” Since then, you have been consistent in your support.

This is one of the saddest moments in my life. To worsen the situation, Chizoba and Chizzy who hardly fly with you were in that chopper. I’m still trying to make sense of the whole situation. I wish someone would wake me up and reassure me that this was a bad dream! But alas it is real.

Good night my own brother Herbert!


Dr. Alex Otti, OFR. (Governor of Abia State)

To think that we were together about two weeks ago with a promise to meet again this week makes the announcement of Herbert’s death tragic.

This is another stark reminder of the ephemerality of life.

While Herbert lived a life of impact and purpose, I am pained that there was much more he had for humanity that his sudden exit has denied us.

I am just speechless!


C. C. Soludo CFR (Governor of Anambra State)

I received with utmost shock and sadness the tragic death of one of Nigeria’s sterling banker and business icon, Dr. @HerbertOWigwe alongside his wife, son and others aboard a helicopter in the United States.

This a huge blow to the banking and financial sector not just in Nigeria, but across Africa and the world. Dr. Wigwe was a shining example of industry, brinksmanship and dedication to all of humanity.

Dying at a time when he is pioneering world class education through his Wigwe University is a devastating loss to this lofty dream and all who hoped on him.

My deepest condolences to his family, his community, the Board of Directors of Access Holdings Plc, his friends and associates.

As painful as his death is, Dr. Wigwe will be remembered for the impactful life he lived and his unflinching dedication to excellence.

May God rest the souls of all those in that tragic crash. Amen.


Bassey Edet Otu (Governor of Cross River State)

The news of the passing of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Bank Holdings, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, who died in a helicopter crash in the United States of America, has left me extremely shocked and devastated.

We also unfortunately lost Wigwe’s wife and son as well as the former group chairman of Nigeria Stock Exchange, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in the crash.

The tragic incident is painful and heart-wrenching, and we pray for God’s abiding comfort in this profoundly difficult time.

Wigwe was a colossus in Nigeria’s financial sector, leading Access Bank to become an international brand that placed Nigeria on the global map of first-class financial services.

I commiserate with the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Holding, the Nigeria Stock Exchange, friends and associates, and pray that God will grant all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.


Godwin Obaseki (Governor, Edo State)

I am indeed saddened by the news of the death of Herbert Wigwe, the Group CEO of Access Holdings Plc. He was a highly professional and patriotic Nigerian who dedicated his time, resources, and energy to numerous commendable initiatives for the development of our country. For us in Ekiti, this is a huge loss. He was a good friend of the state who believed in our shared prosperity agenda.

Herbert consistently demonstrated a willingness to support any worthy cause that could promote economic growth in our state. His wealth of experience and extensive national and global contacts in the finance sector made him a valuable ally. Last year, he visited our state with the Access Bank Plc management team to pledge commitment to partnering with us on a series of projects and initiatives to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and create jobs for young people.

He left a legacy of selfless service, and his impact will be remembered for years. May his soul rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the entire Access Bank family.


Biodun Oyebanji (Governor of Ekiti State)

I received with deep shock, the sad news of the tragic demise of Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings Plc, his wife, Chizoba and son.

Wigwe was a brother, team player, philanthropist, visionary, and thoroughbred professional who distinguished himself in the banking industry and corporate world, rising through the ranks to become a pioneer and titan of our time as well as an entrepreneur of global repute and reach.

This incident is, therefore, an unspeakable disaster and monumental tragedy, not only to Nigeria, but also to the entire corporate world.My heart goes out to his immediate family, relatives, the Access Holdings Plc family, corporate Nigeria, and indeed the nation over these grave losses. May God grant their souls eternal repose.


Peter Ndubuisi Mbah (Governor of Enugu State)

Herbert, my brother, my friend and my adviser.

Herbert, the king of visionary and disruptive ideas.

I’m 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.

We also lost another great business leader and legal luminary, my egbon Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, who contributed significantly to the development of the Capital Markets and Corporate law in Nigeria. May his soul rest in peace.

In this difficult time, our thoughts are with the families of all the victims, and we pray for strength and grace.


Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Governor of Lagos State)

With a profound sense of sorrow weighing heavily on our hearts, we have recently been confronted with the profoundly shocking news of the untimely passing of Mr. Herbert Wigwe, the esteemed CEO of Access Holdings, alongside his beloved wife, Chizoba, and their son Chizi, all whom we lost in a devastating helicopter accident near the border of California and Nevada, in the United States of America.

Recognised as a highly regarded Nigerian banker and visionary entrepreneur, Mr. Herbert undoubtedly embodied greatness through his unwavering dedication to the advancement of Nigeria’s economy. His invaluable support for the Building Our Future Together Agenda within our administration in Ogun State stands as an enduring testament to his remarkable character. A cherished friend, his abrupt departure has left an irreplaceable void, leaving us with an indescribable sorrow that will forever linger.

In this difficult time, I extend my heartfelt condolences, on behalf of my family and the people and government of Ogun State, to his grieving family and the entirety of the Access family. May you find solace in the memories and legacy he has bestowed upon us, and may his spirit guide us as we navigate this loss of immeasurable proportions.


Dapo Abiodun (Governor of Ogun State)

Yesterday, Nigeria got a sad news that broke many blocs and sectors of our Society – the helicopter crash in the United States of America that claimed some of our finest brains. We are consoled only by their actions, legacies and feats. We are left with nothing other than what they have done and not what they planned to do; that is the irony of life.

I commiserate with the Access Bank family, the Herbert Wigwe and Abimbola Ogunbanjo families – and relatives of all the departed souls.

May souls of the departed, rest with our Creator. Amen!


Agbu Kefas (Governor of Taraba State)

The depth of sadness that this tragedy has brought cannot be fully expressed in words.

You were a quintessential gentleman, an astute businessman who strongly believed in the growth and development of our people.

Rest in peace, Herbert and may God Almighty give the surviving members of the families of all those who lost loved ones in the crash and the rest of us the strength to bear this colossal loss.


Seyi Makinde (Governor of Oyo State)

We just received the sad news of the air disaster in California involving our compatriot Dr. Herbert Wigwe, his wife and son. While we await the true report of the situation, we urge our people to remain calm as we continue to pray for him and the entire family.


Siminalayi Joseph Fubara (Governor of Rivers State)

In late Herbert Wigwe, I lost a friend who made immense contributions to the banking industry in Nigeria.

His impact was significant and far-reaching, extending beyond his professional circle to the broader business community.

I had a personal relationship with Wigwe while in the banking sector.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and associates during this difficult time. May they have the fortitude to bear this significant loss. Herbert Wigwe will always be remembered.

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