Access Holdings PLC has announced the untimely demise of its Group Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, along with his son, Chizi Wigwe, and wife, Doreen Wigwe, in a tragic helicopter accident in America on Friday, February 9, 2024.
Despite the somber news, it’s essential to celebrate the extraordinary journey and legacy left behind by Dr. Herbert Wigwe, a visionary leader whose impact resonated far beyond the realms of banking and finance.
Dr. Wigwe, a co-founder of Access Holdings PLC, played a pivotal role in transforming the financial services landscape across Africa, Asia, and Europe. His journey commenced with the completion of an accountancy degree from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, and from there, he embarked on a relentless pursuit of knowledge and excellence.
Earning a Masters in Banking and Finance from the University of North Wales (now Bangor) and another Masters in Financial Economics from the prestigious University of London, Dr. Wigwe fortified his academic foundation. His commitment to continuous learning led him to the Harvard Business School Executive Management Program and further studies in law at the University of London.
Starting as a management consultant at Coopers and Lybrand in Lagos, he swiftly gained recognition, qualifying as a chartered accountant. His journey in the banking sector kicked off at Capital Bank, and later, he joined GTBank, where he dedicated over a decade to corporate and institutional banking. Climbing the ranks, he became the Executive Director in charge of institutional banking.
In 2002, Dr. Wigwe, in partnership with Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, made a strategic move by acquiring Access Bank, then ranked 65th largest bank in Nigeria. His leadership at Access Bank began as Deputy Managing Director, and in 2014, he assumed the role of Group Managing Director/CEO, a position he held until 2022.
Under his transformative leadership, Access Bank became Africa’s largest retail bank (by customer base) in sub-Saharan Africa. The bank also secured a spot among the top 500 financial institution brands globally, according to a 2022 report by Brand Finance, with operations spanning 12 countries.
Dr. Wigwe’s influence extended beyond banking; he served as the Chairman of Access Bank UK, contributing to its prominence as a robust African Bank in the United Kingdom. Additionally, he actively participated in the Nigeria Business Coalition Against AIDS, leading major businesses in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Recognitions poured in for Dr. Wigwe, with the African Banker of the Year award in 2021, for the second consecutive year, and the ‘Best Banking CEO’ title from the Global Brands Magazine. His contributions to corporate governance and the rule of law in the Nigerian banking industry were acknowledged with the Juris Law Award.
In the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Wigwe co-led the formation of CACOVID (Coalition Against COVID), establishing 39 isolation centers and providing food for 10 million families across Nigeria.
Beyond his professional achievements, Dr. Wigwe launched ‘The HOW Foundation’ in 2016 and established Wigwe University, leaving a lasting impact on education and philanthropy.
Dr. Herbert Wigwe’s inspirational journey and the indelible mark he left on the financial, philanthropic, and educational sectors will never be forgotten . His legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.