‘Nigeria and Africa Have Lost Two OF Our Brightest Minds’ – Nigeria’s Richest Men Pure Heartfelt Tribute To Herbert Wigwe & Family

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After the tragic and sad passing of Access Holdings CEO Herbert Wigwe, prominent friends and billionaire associates have been pouring out tribute to the famous Nigerian banking whiz-kid. While still alive, the 57-year-old businessman wasn’t just the man who bought Access Bank while it was ranked 65th and made it one of the top four banks in Nigeria. The Oracle of Osiokpo was a jolly good friend and the life of the party. Besides his infectious flair for teamwork, Herbert worked hard, played hard, and was just the kind of person everyone wanted around.

Sadly, the visionary leader passed on February 10 2024, in a helicopter crash alongside his wife and eldest son in the US. The elite family flew to Las Vegas from California to watch the Superbowl 58 when they met their untimely end. The late banker aide, Faleke Olushola, however, narrowly escaped death after he chose to travel by road due to the unpredictable night-time weather conditions. 

Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo, a family friend, was not so lucky. The former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc Sadly, in order to save time, flew in the chopper with the family and died in the crash.

Since the sad news went viral, the likes of President Bola Tinubu, Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governor Peter Mba of Enugu State, Alex Otti of Abia State, Governor Sim Fubara of Rivers State, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and many others have all expressed shock and sadness. What do other wealthy and prominent Nigerians who rubbed shoulders with the late Herbert have to say?

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Afrobeat superstar Davido was one of the first people to react to the sad passing of Herbert Wigwe. For someone who also experienced a great loss in 2022 and rubbed shoulders with the late banker while alive, Davido understands what grieving a loved one feels like for the deceased family. In a post on X bearing a heartbreak emoji, Davido prayed to the family of the late banker. “I pray for strength and comfort for the Wigwe family,” he wrote.

In a condolence message, billionaire businessman Femi Otedola reminisced about his visit to the newly built Lagos residence of Wigwe alongside Aliko Dangote a fortnight before his passing. The Forbes celebrated businessman said he would forever cherish the memories he had with Wigwe.

“Exactly two weeks ago, Herbie and his wife hosted myself and Aliko to dinner at his newly built home in Lagos. I will cherish and fondly remember my memories of time spent together with him over the years, “he wrote.

“Herbie, we will all miss you. Your legacy will live on forever. My heartfelt condolences go out to his children, Tochi, Hannah and David. I pray God comforts them during this tragic time,” he added.

Also paying tribute to the fallen iroko, the CEO of Red Media, Debola Lagos, recalled how Herbert Wigwe had faith in his company from its inception. Even more painful, Debola Williams revealed that the person who introduced them, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, also died in the crash.

Aliko Dangote also expressed shock and sadness that his friend and business associate was gone. In his tribute, Africa’s richest man said Wigwe’s first-rate mind, brilliance, tenacity, unforced charm, and clarity of purpose stood out among his peers. According to the billionaire, this couldn’t be more obvious during the days of collaboration in the CACOVID initiative to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like some of us, he stood up to be counted and deployed huge personal resources to fight a common scourge. How noble, how patriotic. As I mourn the shocking demise of a loyal friend, my heart goes out to Tochi, David, and Hannah, the rest of the extended Wigwe family, the staff of Access Holdings, and the good people of our beloved country, Nigeria,” Dangote reflected.

Reacting on X, the former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka recalled his last moment with the late banker. Chidoka revealed that he was supposed to meet with Herbert, and he begged him to take him along on his many trips overseas.

“We had an appointment for last Thursday. ‘Osita, I will fly into Abuja with the VC on Thursday; after our meeting, I will leave for the US.’ I said, ‘Herbert, wetin they pursue you, you travel a lot these days, biko take me along.’ He laughed and said, ‘Osita, you can’t keep up with my pace. Just enjoy your peace. We laughed and said goodbyes. It was the last goodbye. He couldn’t make it on Thursday,” the ex-minister recalled.

The former minister revealed that Herbert wasn’t just a friend to him but like family. “Since I left public office, he has been a strong supporter and friend. His wife Chizoba was at my wedding 22 years ago. His son looked up to me as his parents literally handed him over to me for mentorship. “I am alone in the dark, wondering, is that it? Should we remain fearless? Somebody should tell me something,” Chidoka mourned.

On May 3 2020, Femi Fani-Kayode dragged Herbert Wigwe by his suit across the street of X. The former minister asked, “Herbert Wigwe, how do you sleep at night.” FFK accused the Access Holdings CEO of donating 1 billion to the fight against COVID-19 and then sacked hundreds of loyal staff of Access Bank the next day because he was more interested in appeasing former President Muhammadu Buhari and his profits.

Whatever their difference in the past, the former minister expressed sadness that the visionary banker passed tragically. FFK lamented that the country has been mourning for days, and Herbert Wigwe’s passing added to the nightmare.

“Three days ago, we lost Hon. Cairo Ojougbho, a formidable politician, a former Director of NDDC and a former Member of the House of Representatives. Yesterday, we lost Brigadier-General Jones Oladeinde Arogbofa (rtd.), a distinguished and courageous former Army Commander and the former Chief of Staff to President Goodluck Jonathan (@GEJonathan).

Just as the news of the tragic demise of these two fine gentlemen began to sink in, we were hit with yet more bad news late last night when we read reports about the loss of Herbert Wigwe…The last three days have indeed been a nightmare for Nigeria as some of our brightest and best have been cut short. Our nation is undoubtedly the worse for it, and we shall miss them all,” he wrote.

2023 presidential candidate Peter Obi is also mourning his good friend. Crying out, he first recalled assisting the late banker with his wedding years ago. “This loss is profoundly felt across the nation. I first met Herbert during his early days, on the brink of starting his marital journey. I vividly remember assisting him in preparing for his traditional wedding and being there for the ceremony with his wife, Chizoba, from Achina, Anambra State,”.

Peter Obi said his late friend’s death reminded him that life is short and everyone should live with a purpose. “The loss of such an exceptional individual reminds us of life’s fleeting nature, encouraging us to live with a purpose that contributes to the betterment of humanity. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with Herbert, his beloved wife, and his son,” he added.

Prominent entrepreneur and fellow banker Tony Elumelu is also shadding tears; he revealed that he admired Herbert Wigwe while alive as they shared things in common. “Nigeria, indeed Africa, has lost two of our brightest minds. I admired them both, and we all shared the desire to drive Nigeria’s transformation. Herbert was an exceptional talent, committed to advancing Nigeria’s banking and financial sector with Access Holdings”.

Tony Elumelu lamented that the news deeply saddens him, and he is praying for strength for the Wigwe family as they grieve.

Amidst the outpouring of tributes, some prominent Nigerians paid a condolence visit to the late Herbert Wigwe’s parents, Pastor Shyngle Wigwe and his wife, Mrs Stella Wigwe. In viral photos, Aliko Dangote, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, the late banker’s long-time business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Gov Dapo Abiodun, Pat Utomi and others visited Herbert Wigwe’s parent’s residence to offer their condolences.

Tell us, guys, what do you think about the outpouring of tributes and condolences from prominent Nigerians, movers, and shakers of the nation?

 Is this a sign that Herbert Wigwe wasn’t just a banker but a brilliant man loved by many? 

UNTOLD STORY OF Nigerian Banker Herbert Wigwe Who PROTECTED His Family From Everything But Death

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