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Nigeria Mourns as Herbert Wigwe Laid to Rest After Week-Long Funeral

Nigeria Mourns as Herbert Wigwe Laid to Rest After Week-Long Funeral

Herbert Wigwe, co-founder of Access Bank and a towering figure in Nigeria’s banking sector, has been laid to rest in his hometown of Isiokpo, Rivers State, following a week-long series of funeral rites in Lagos, the country’s commercial hub.

Mr. Wigwe, along with his wife and son, tragically perished in a helicopter crash in California last month, along with three others. The somber ceremony saw dignitaries from across Nigeria paying their respects, including Africa’s wealthiest individual, Aliko Dangote, who pledged to honor Mr. Wigwe’s memory by naming a road after him leading to his oil refinery.

Expressing his grief, Dangote lamented, “I feel very helpless because I could not prevent the tragedy that befell my friend, brother, and mentee – a very loyal friend for that matter,” during a memorial prior to the burial.

Tributes poured in from around the globe, with a representative for French President Emmanuel Macron hailing Mr. Wigwe as “a great friend to France” at the memorial service. Nigeria’s Vice-President Kashim Shettima also mourned the loss, stating, “Herbert left us in winter before the season of bloom.”

The helicopter crash occurred while en route to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, with poor weather conditions cited as a contributing factor. The tragic incident claimed the lives of all six individuals on board, including both pilots and a former president of the Nigerian stock exchange.

Herbert Wigwe’s legacy in the banking industry is profound. Having founded Access Bank in 1989, he played an instrumental role in its growth, culminating in its ascent to Nigeria’s largest bank in 2018 following the acquisition of Diamond Bank. Under his leadership, Access Bank expanded its footprint across Africa, acquiring banks in Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana.

Mr. Wigwe’s visionary pursuits extended beyond banking, with plans to establish Wigwe University, a testament to his commitment to education. Scheduled to open in September, the university aimed to provide higher learning opportunities to Nigerian youth.

His untimely demise reverberated across the nation, with President Bola Tinubu remarking that the loss was “shocking beyond comprehension.” As Nigeria bids farewell to a banking icon, Herbert Wigwe’s enduring impact on the nation’s financial landscape and his philanthropic endeavors will be remembered for generations to come.



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