‘An exceptional individual’ — Atiku, Obi, Okonjo-Iweala pay tribute to Herbert Wigwe

Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, has paid tribute to the late Herbert Wigwe, group chief executive officer (GCEO) of Access Holdings Plc.

Wigwe, alongside his wife, son, and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) were involved in a helicopter crash in the United States.

The Eurocopter EC130 helicopter conveying them crashed in California near the Nevada border.

Reacting to the news, Abubakar, said he his deeply saddened by the incident.


“Indeed, Herbert Wigwe, consummate banker, education promoter, and philanthropist, numbered his days. On behalf of my family, my heart goes out to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unfortunate incident. May their souls rest in peace,” Atiku said.


In a condolence message, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), described Wigwe’s death as a terrible loss.


“Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO Access Bank, his wife and son as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash,” she said. 

“My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and Management of Access Bank and my younger Brother Herbert’s partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”


In his tribute, Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 elections, said the 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,” Obi said.

“Since then, I’ve maintained a connection to his endeavors in my own modest ways. Herbert, a determined and forward-thinking individual, led Access Bank to new heights following his brother Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

“His noteworthy contributions extended beyond the professional realm, with commendable philanthropic efforts in health and education, exemplified by the establishment of Wigwe University, showcasing his deep commitment to education as a driver of development.

“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.”



Also paying tribute to the deceased, Akin Alabi, a member of the house of representatives, described Wigwe’s death as a national tragedy.



Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, said Wigwe’s death has left him “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,” Obaseki said.

“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.”

Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace, said Wigwe’s death was “very devastating”.

“He was in my office earlier this week and actually left my office to fly out of the country and never came back. I am also shocked to learn his wife, son and other friends were involved in this tragedy,” Keyamo wrote.

“We were on the verge of announcing something big for the aviation sector, the reason he actually came to the office with his entire team, both from Access and Wigwe University. This is surreal and I am lost for words. 

“May Almighty God comfort his aged parents and sibling (who were also my neighbours in Lagos for many years as a very young lawyer in Anthony Village), his immediate family members, his staff, friends across Nigeria and dependents.”

Asue Ighodalo, former chairman of the Nigerian Breweries Plc, described the news of Wigwe’s death as “extremely distressing”.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear brother Herbert Wigwe, his wife and son as well as my dear brother Abimbola Ogunbanjo and two others in this most unfortunate helicopter crash near Califonia,” he said.

“Words fail to express the grief my family and I feel in the face of this most disturbing news.”


Also, Kayode Fayemi, former governor of Ekiti state, said Wigwe’s death was a great loss to the country.

He described the deceased as a visionary leader and a compassionate individual who “touched the lives of countless people through his philanthropy and generosity”.

‘’Wigwe was a business leader who helped transform Access Bank into one of the largest and most respected financial institutions in Africa,” he said.

“As Group CEO, he led the bank with vision and purpose, contributing to the growth of Nigeria’s banking sector and the expansion of economic opportunities across the continent.

“Though words cannot adequately express our sorrow regarding this immense loss, I hope the families and dear friends of the deceased can find comfort in the fond memories they leave behind.”

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