In memoriam: Herbert Wigwe, Leader, Visionary and Humanist (15 August 1966 – 10 February 2024).

Published 5 months ago
By Forbes Africa Lusofona | N'gunu Tiny

It is said that good people die early. In the case of Herbert Wigwe, aged 57, it seems too soon. Those who had the privilege of crossing paths with Herbert realized immediately that they had a unique Leader before them. In this moment of pain and grief for his family and friends and faced with the unconformism of the tragedy, it is important to remember his path and honor his legacy.

N’gunu Tiny with Herbert Wigwe

I remember him as a Leader with unusual personal qualities and a global and humanistic vision. Herbert Wigwe stood out for his outstanding intelligence, fine and polite manners, and for his truly extraordinary decision-making and implementation capacities. He was a man who wanted not only to do things, but to do good and for others: he was a man of the common good. He had two families: Wigwe and Access Group, and he was committed to both.

He co-founded and developed a global African institution. Access Bank is today an established African bank in the world’s main financial and commercial markets, serving 60 million customers (the same as Citi Bank, for example) in more than 17 countries, with assets totaling more than USD 35 billion. Numbers aside, he leaves us a global bank focused on African clients.

Herbert was a humanist leader. And it is under this latter condition that he wanted to leave his imprint with the social impact investment in a Pan-African university in his hometown, Isiokpo, Rivers State, Nigeria, offering a new generation the opportunity of receiving world-class education. Wigwe University shall teach the new generation of African leaders and provide “school personality” to millions of Africans in the coming decades.

I would also like to remember the man and the friend with whom I have had the privilege of working very closely on common projects and developing a unique friendship in recent years. Last year, on one of our trips, he asked me if I would be available to teach at Wigwe University. As I was about to answer he added, “It’s not really an invitation. I won’t take no for an answer because the transfer of knowledge is our daily obligation ”. The matter was settled right there!

In this moment of deep pain and grief, I bow before the unique memory of Herbert, Doreen and Chizi and I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, loved ones and the Access Group. My feelings are also with the families and friends of the remaining four victims of that fateful moment of Saturday 10 February 2024.

Herbert’s legacy only makes our responsibility even greater. Keep soaring, “H”..! If he was among us, he would answer: “Tiny, No Wahala”.

Lisbon, February 12, 2024.