Late Hebert Wigwe and deceased family


By Zayd Ibn Isah

Glowing tributes have continued to pour in from friends and business associates for the late Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe. Herbert Wigwe tragically passed on after an ill-fated helicopter crash in the United States, alongside his wife, Chizoba, their eldest son, Chizzy, and former group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Abimbola Ogunbajo.

As more of these tributes became public, one could not help but be reminded of how such expressions of loss and grief have often followed the demise of great men and women. From high and low, from world leaders to the ordinary man, humanity mourns. In moments such as this, we are not only reminded once more about the ephemerality of life, but are made to unite, each and everyone of us feeling the same sensations, even if differently.

Herbert Wigwe’s night of tributes was one of the most poignant and resonant events in the history of this country. The Eko Hotel, where the event took place, was filled with melancholy and heartfelt eulogies, as dignitaries and mourners paid their respects to a man whose impact transcended the banking industry and touched countless lives. Prominent figures like Aliko Dangote and Emir Sanusi could not hold back their tears as they stood on the podium to pay their last respects to their beloved friend.

According to Aliko Dangote, Herbert Wigwe, whom he proudly referred to as his friend and mentee, once shared with him a profound sentiment: “I would do anything to ensure your success in business, even if it meant giving up my life.” Such was the depth of loyalty and dedication exemplified by Herbert Wigwe towards his friends and colleagues.

Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi expressed his belief that Herbert would outlive him. Consequently, he established a trust account for the educational well-being of his children and appointed Herbert as trustee, confident that if anything happened to him, his family would be in safe hands with Herbert. Alas, fate had other plans in store. Even the Holy Qur’an tells us about the superiority of God’s plans, as contained in Surah Al-Anfal verse 30: “And remember, O Prophet, when the disbelievers conspired to capture, kill, or exile you. They planned, but Allah also planned. And Allah is the best of planners.”

Former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also recounted his experiences with Herbert Wigwe, stating that during his tenure as VP, Herbert always called to check on him without seeking any assistance. Even after leaving office, Herbert continued to inquire if there was any way he could assist him in settling into private life. They held numerous meetings until Herbert’s untimely demise. He was truly an enigma.

A friend also revealed that the last time he visited Wigwe, the man’s concern had been about the Herbert Wigwe University, which he was building in his hometown in Rivers State. According to this friend, Wigwe promised to make it not just the best in Nigeria, but Africa at large. However, the fact that this dream is now suspended in a limbo is a saddening fact of life, even if it might be brought to fruition in the future. As Namaid M. Sabri aptly stated, life is a mirage, in the sense that we yearn for it amidst our never-ending desires, but it vanishes right at the edge when we start thinking that we are about to grab it in its true sense, leaving death as the ultimate reality.

From Herbert Wigwe’s life, we can learn several valuable lessons. For one, loyalty and dedication: Herbert’s unwavering commitment to his friends and colleagues, as evidenced by his willingness to sacrifice for their success, highlights the importance of loyalty and dedication in relationships. Another lesson is that of legacy and impact. Herbert’s vision of establishing a university to benefit his community demonstrates the desire to leave a lasting impact beyond personal achievements, emphasizing the importance of contributing positively to society.

Herbert Wigwe’s life was well-lived, and so much so that no one has come forth to speak ill of him. And more than having been a great man, he was a good husband, father, brother, friend, mentor and professional. His footsteps are imprinted on the sands of time, and in following them, we are able to learn the significance of wholesome relationships, humility and service, perseverance, and a need for spirituality and self-awareness that is crucial in helping one to journey far and deep within this remarkable thing called life.

Zayd Ibn Isah can be reached at [email protected]