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<strong>Remembering Herbert Wigwe: A Titan in Nigerian Banking – Chief Original Gangstar</strong>

Remembering Herbert Wigwe: A Titan in Nigerian Banking – Chief Original Gangstar 

In the banking and finance sector, Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe, born on August 15, 1966, was not just a name; he was a force to be reckoned with. The news of his passing on February 9, 2024, in a tragic helicopter accident in California, shook the financial world and left a void that cannot be easily filled. At 58, Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director and CEO of Access Bank Plc, left behind a legacy that spans decades of dedication and transformation.

In this issue of Chief Original Gangstar, we are paying tribute to the unsung hero who impacted the world of finance through his key role in Access Bank. He may have passed, but his legacy is a concrete memory that still lives with us.

Herbert Wigwe’s journey in finance began with a degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1987. His thirst for knowledge led him to the University College of North Wales, where he earned a Master of Arts in Banking and Finance in 1991. Later, in 1996, he added another feather to his academic cap with an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London. A man of relentless ambition, he further honed his skills at the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme.

Wigwe’s professional quest commenced at Coopers & Lybrand in the late 1980s, where he swiftly ascended the ranks to become a chartered accountant. His journey through the banking sector saw him at Guaranty Trust Bank, where he spent over a decade, eventually becoming the executive director in charge of institutional banking around 1998.

In 2002, alongside his business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Herbert Wigwe acquired Access Bank, a bold move that faced initial scepticism from the Central Bank of Nigeria due to their perceived youth. However, between 2002 and 2017, Access Bank, under their leadership, grew to become the 4th largest bank in Nigeria. In 2014, Wigwe assumed the role of CEO and Group Managing Director, a position he held until May 2022.

Wigwe’s impact extended beyond the borders of Nigeria. Access Bank’s merger with Diamond Bank in 2018 elevated it to the largest bank in Nigeria. Though unfulfilled by his untimely death, his vision to expand into Asia in 2024 reflected his relentless pursuit of global excellence.

A key player in the creation of the Access Conference, Wigwe used this platform to engage global leaders and address pressing global challenges. His commitment to corporate social responsibility manifested in collaborations with UNICEF to support vulnerable children and the establishment of The HOW Foundation in 2016.

In 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari honoured Wigwe with the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), recognising his exemplary role in society and contributions to youth development. His philanthropic endeavours extended to the Boys’ Brigade, where he was inaugurated as State Patron for Lagos State Council in 2016.

Herbert Wigwe’s tragic demise, alongside his wife, son, and others in the helicopter crash, leaves a void in the banking sector and beyond. His legacy, marked by visionary leadership, global impact, and a commitment to social responsibility, will undoubtedly endure. The Wigwe University, set to open in September 2024, stands as an attestation to his enduring vision for education and youth development. In the wake of this loss, we remember a banking icon whose influence reached far beyond the walls of Access Bank. Even in death, Wigwe still remains a Chief Original Gangstar through and through.

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