Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe was a highly respected figure in Nigeria’s banking sector, known for his entrepreneurial prowess. He served as the esteemed Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc for many years until his unfortunate demise in a helicopter crash on February 10, 2024, near the California-Nevada border.
He tragically passed away along with his wife, son, and other dignitaries during a helicopter crash in California, United States of America.
Here are twelve important things to know about the late CEO of Access Bank:
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Wigwe was born on August 15, 1966, in Ibadan, Oyo state, to the family of Pastor Shingle Wigwe and Mrs. Wigwe, a nurse. Although originally from Osiokpo in Ikwerre LGA of Rivers state, he spent his early years in Ibadan.
After completing his secondary education at St. Gregory’s College in Lagos, Wigwe faced initial setbacks as he failed his first attempt at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination. However, he persevered and succeeded in gaining admission to study accounting at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), where he earned a degree in accountancy in 1987.
To further enhance his knowledge and expertise, Wigwe pursued postgraduate studies abroad. He obtained master’s degrees in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales and Financial Economics from the University of London.
Wigwe’s career started at Coopers & Lybrand as a management consultant in the late 1980s, and he became a chartered accountant in 1989. He later joined Guaranty Trust Bank, where he worked for over a decade and rose to the position of executive director around 1998.
During his time at Capital Bank and GTBank, Wigwe primarily focused on corporate and institutional banking. He spent over a decade working in these areas and eventually became the executive director in charge of institutional banking.
ACHIEVEMENTS AT ACCESS BANK
In 2002, Wigwe, alongside his business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, acquired Access Bank. However, there was a delay in the purchase due to concerns from the Central Bank of Nigeria regarding their age. Nevertheless, between 2002 and 2017, Access Bank grew to become the 4th largest bank in Nigeria.
Throughout his illustrious career, Wigwe held several significant positions within Access Bank. From 2002 to 2014, he served as the deputy managing director. He also assumed the chairmanship of Access Bank Ghana Limited in 2013. In January 2014, he became the CEO and group managing director of Access Bank.
Under his leadership, Access Bank merged with Diamond Bank in 2018, making it the largest bank in Nigeria. Before his untimely passing, he had plans to expand the bank into Asia in early 2024.
Wigwe’s visionary leadership extended beyond Nigeria’s borders, evident through his chairmanship of Access Bank Ghana Limited and Access Bank (UK) Limited. He was honored with the Banker of the Year award by prominent Nigerian newspapers, showcasing his significant contributions to the banking industry.
Herbert Wigwe co-founded Wigwe University, set to launch in September 2024. This university is the realization of his lifelong ambition to establish an exceptional, world-class African institution that fosters the development of future leaders, aiming to transform the African continent.
NET WORTH AND FAMILY
Estimates place Wigwe’s fortune at approximately $65.2 million, making him one of the wealthiest bankers on the African continent. His financial success further solidifies his reputation and respect within the financial sector.
Wigwe was married to Chizoba Wigwe (previously Nwuba) and was blessed with four children: Chizi, Tochi, Hannah, and David. He is survived by four siblings, his father who will turn 90 years old this year, and his aged mother.
HERBERT WIGWE LEGACY
Herbert Wigwe’s legacy lives on as a testament to the transformative power of vision, perseverance, and unwavering dedication to excellence. He left an indelible imprint on Nigeria’s banking landscape and beyond, paving the way for future leaders.