…as Tinubu, Atiku, Obaseki, other prominent Nigerians mourn

Nigerians from all walks of life have continued to express sadness over the news of the passing of top banker and entrepreneur, Mr Herbert Wigwe, and former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, along with members of the Wigwe family.

Wigwe, who was the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Holdings, his wife, a son, the former NGX Group President Ogunbajo, and 2 others died in a helicopter crash near a border city between between Nevada and California, USA.

The chopper was headed to Las Vegas when it crashed Friday night local time.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, no survivors were located after a helicopter crashed in the Mojave Desert Friday night.

Mourning the Nigerian business leaders, President Bola Tinubu

described their passing as “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension”.

The President, in a release by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, on Sunday condoled with the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families, the business community, and all those impacted by the harrowing incident.

The President prayed for the peaceful repose of the departed and asked God Almighty to comfort the multitude of Nigerians who are grieving and the families of the deceased at this deeply agonizing moment.

Also mourning the deceased are former Vice President and presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Executive Chairman of Geregu Power Plc, Femi Otedola, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, the Kaduna State governor, Uba Sani, among others.

Atiku, in a tweet on his X handle on Saturday night, described the incident as unfortunate, saying he was deeply saddened by the news.

“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,” he said.

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said he was “extremely shocked and devastated” by the news of the death of Wigwe, his wife and son, as well as Ogunbanjo.

He described Wigwe as “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”.

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

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

Peter Obi, in a statement on his X handle, Obi wrote, “I’m deeply saddened by the tragic news of the passing of my dear friend, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings, along with his wife and son, and another close friend, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former group chairman of NGX Group. This loss is profoundly felt across the nation. I first met Herbert during his early days, on the brink of starting his marital journey.”

Also writing on her X handle @NOIweala, Okonjo-Iweala said, “My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and Management and my younger brother, Herbert’s partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.”

Otedola said he was shocked and saddened to hear the news.

“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 in a post on his X handle @realFemiOtedola.

On his part, Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, said Wigwe’s worthy legacies would surely endure.

“Nigeria has lost one of its most innovative and creative entrepreneurs. He not only led Access Bank to become a global brand, he developed Access Corporation into a veritable vehicle for addressing developmental challenges,” Sani said in a statement on Sunday.

“He established Wigwe University to equip Nigerian youths with the skills of competing in a complex and fast-changing world. Herbert Wigwe’s worthy legacies will surely endure.

“On behalf of the government and people of Kaduna State, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the Wigwe Family, his relations, friends, business associates, members of Corporate Nigeria, and all Nigerians on the demise of this globally acclaimed banker and entrepreneur. May Herbert Wigwe’s soul rest in perfect peace,” he said.

Born in August 1966, Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe began his career at Access Bank in 2002 as the deputy managing director. In 2014, he was appointed group managing director and managing director (GMD/CEO). Prior to becoming a chartered accountant, he served as a management consultant for Coopers & Lybrand and as an executive director overseeing institutional banking at Guaranty Trust Bank.

Also, Wigwe held positions as Chairman of Access Bank (Ghana), Access Investment & Securities Limited, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS), and Access Bank (UK) Limited.

He was most recently the Chairman of Unified Payments Services Limited. He was also on the advisory boards of Friends Africa and the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company.