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Wigwe, wife, son buried in private cemetery as tears flow freely

It was the end of an era as the late Dr. Herbert Wigwe, co-founder and Chief Executive of Access Bank Group, his wife, Chizoba, and 29-year-old son, Chizzy, were laid to rest in a private cemetery in the sprawling private home he built inside the premises of the Wigwe University in Isiokpo, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, yesterday.

Recall that the deceased persons were on board the ill-fated helicopter that crashed between the boundaries of Nevada and California in the United States (US) after 11-hour flight from London on February 9, 2024.

In his tribute to the departed business mogul, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, who attended the funeral ceremony at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Lion of Judah Parish, Isiokpo, described Wigwe as a great mentor who positively impacted the younger generations to greatness.

Akpabio said the late Access Bank boss had left behind indelible legacies that would be difficult to equate in the education and financial sectors respectively and enjoined all to imbibe the positive virtues of the late billionaire.

Passion for human capital development

The Senate President noted that Wigwe’s passion for human capital development prompted him to support many in acquiring tertiary education across the world, as well as establishing a university in his hometown (Wigwe University) of Isiokpo, stating that his contributions to the human capital development would be remembered.

“I believe he was a great mentor. He mentored a lot of younger people and he was a serious role model to the future generation that you can build from nothing and get to greatness. To become great, you must work hard, because with hard work, you can achieve greatness,” he stated.

“The university he has left behind was because of his passion for education. He supported and sent so many to educational citadels across the world and leaving this edifice behind. You know the university is not only for Nigerians, it is for the entire global community. So just like he was a global banker, opening bank branches all over the place, he actually has dropped a legacy in education that he would be remembered for years to come.”This man has made so much impact around the world. He gave food to so many people in Nigeria and many countries in the world, even in Dubai. He was also in China, he did a lot. He put food on the table of so many in the world. So I regard him as a global citizen, an icon of the world.”

‘Wigwe gave his best’

Also speaking after the event, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and immediate past Governor of Sokoto State, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, said Wigwe gave his best to the financial sector in Nigeria.

“He was an illustrious son. Someone who gave his best into the Nigerian financial sector, Unfortunately, he met an untimely death. It was his time, God Almighty has called upon him and he has to answer. Our consolation is that he did very well and he has left a very lasting legacy. May his soul rest in peace,” Tambuwal said.

Meanwhile, a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, said the vacuum created by the death of Wigwe would be hard to fill.

Secondus stated that the university Wigwe left behind in his home town would not only benefit his kinsmen, but also the entire country.

“We are in pains because of the death of our brother. He has left a huge legacy that it would be very difficult for a very long time to fill,” he said.

“He was our brother and he was a leader and, of course, you know he was a financial guru. He was like a man who saw tomorrow. He dreamt and he followed his dream to the letter coming back home to establish the university that would have been the best, and is still going to be the best in the world, is one legacy that he has left that everybody in Isiokpo, in Rivers State, Nigeria and Africa as a whole would continue to remember him for”.

Earlier, the Governor of Rivers State and chief host, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, had challenged the political class to reflect on the essence of a power struggle when it is not deployed in impacting society positively.

Fubara pointed to the three corpses of persons who used their time, within the short period they lived, to make enormous and impactful contributions to humanity.

“Here lies our brother, his wife and son, everyone has come to celebrate them. It means even in the short period that they lived, they lived impactful lives. They made great contributions to humanity,” he said.

“Here is a man, though not a politician, he made his money through our investments. He had the world in his palm financially. He even controlled the political class. This takes me to my question to the political class: What is all this struggle all about? You want to kill and bury, to what end?

“But. today, with all the power financially, he couldn’t control life. Is it not enough for us to ask ourselves, why are we struggling? Why are we not making enough impact in the lives of our people? Please, let the political class reflect on this”

ubara said, that in immortalising the deceased, the state government will work with Herbert Wigwe Foundation to ensure that Wigwe University is sustained by the dreams of Herbert Wigwe.

The Rivers governor extended appreciation to Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group, for their various roles and contributions towards the success of the Wigwes funeral.

Dignitaries who graced the funeral service include a former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Abia State, Mr Alex Oti, a former Central Bank Governor, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Prof. Ngozi Ordu, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Mr Peter Obi, Labour Party presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections.

Others include Founder and Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Aigboje Aig-Imuokhuede, co-founder of Access Bank; Pastor Umo Eno, Akwa Ibom State Governor; Dr Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Ekiti State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, a former Minister of Transportation; Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri; Mr Celestine Omehia, a former Governor of Rivers State; Senator Seriake Dickson, a former Governor of Bayelsa State; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, Mr Timi Alaibe, a former NDDC Managing Director; and Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Publisher of Thisday Newspaper.


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