Sanwo-Olu to immortalise Wigwe as Dangote, CBN Governor, others extol virtues

Access Bank CEO, late Herbert Wigwe

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has promised to immortalise the late founder of Access Bank, Dr Herbert Wigwe, who was born at the Island Maternity Hospital in the state.

Sanwo-Olu made the pledge on Monday night at an event to celebrate the late Group Chief Executive, Access Corporation, Dr Herbert Wigwe, tagged, “Celebrating Herbert Wigwe – A Professional Legacy”.

The event was divided into six segments – Young Hebert, the banker, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the builder and the ambassador.

The governor narrated his last conversation with Wigwe on Thursday, Feb. 8, where lofty ideas were discussed.

“This was the last conversation that I will keep on my phone for a long time,” he said.

He said that Wigwe was a man who always had good stories and supported several projects of his administration and driving him to take up new challenges.

“Herbert was one of the very first people that supported my ambition generously,” he said.

He said it was unbelievable how a man could give so much, including his words of encouragement.

Sanwo-Olu revealed how Wigwe collaborated with other partners to cushion the effects of COVID-19 during the dreaded global pandemic.

“Herbert led from the front, encouraged and stood with the state government. I have indeed lost a big friend,” he said.

He said Wigwe and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the former group managing director of Access Bank, took a trip with him to Cairo to pursue visions of Lagos.

He said Wigwe had a special history of Isale Eko, and Lagos would immortalise him, haven being born in Island Maternity Hospital.

He said if places of birth mattered, Wigwe should be of Isale Eko origin, noting, “Herbert has transcended beyond borders.

“Lagos will not forget Herbert Wigwe. We will support the family,” he said.

Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun while speaking of his encounters said, “It is a tough season for all of us.”

Abiodun said words were not enough to describe and how larger than life Wigwe was as he achieved so much within a short lifetime.

“Herbert was loyal to his friends, way ahead of his time ever forward looking,” he said.

He said Wigwe believed in the country Nigeria, he was patriotic, adding that he met him about 30 years ago and thanked Wigwe for believing in him and supportive of his programmes and projects.

He said the projects included Gateway International Airport and the Epe/Ijebu-Ode Road projects, among others.

He described Wigwe as a bridge builder, selfless, bold and courageous.

He said it still felt like a bad dream that Herbert was gone, saying he was happy he honoured the invitation to see Wigwe’s new home.

He hinted that Wigwe had a street named after him in Beirut, saying, “he lived more than a life on one lifetime”.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, narrated Wigwe’s contributions to sports and various sectors, including supporting his personal and family visions.

“Herbert gave me his time and thinking, what I valued most; the man is never short of ideas,” he said.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Mr Olayemi Cardoso, appreciated Wigwe’s hard work, broad knowledge base and role in shaping banking reforms further.

He said that Wigwe’s commitment to reform and his genuine concern for the well-being of Nigerians garnered significant recognition.

The CBN Governor said he and the deceased recently discussed the way out of the country’s economic impasse, adding that the banker’s demise had left a vacuum in the bamling sector and the economy.

In his view, former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, emphasised the immense value of Wigwe’s contributions and the challenges that could arise in finding a suitable replacement.

Sanusi’s recognised Wigwe’s influence and the long-lasting imprint of his work, saying that further solidify the remarkable nature of his contributions.

Ibrahim Dankwambo, former Senator for Gombe North and former of governor of Gombe State, said, “from Him we come, to Him we shall return” while reeling out good times with WigweCoopers Library.

Dankwambo said Herbert was handed over to him as a brother by his father.

Dankwambo, a former Accountant-General of the Federation, shared hilarious moments, describing Wigwe as a detribalised Nigerian.

“Herbert and I acquired this bank (Access Bank) and made it what it is today,” he said.

Dignitaries relished adventurous and courageous stories from Wigwe’s early childhood and later his successful sourjourn and success stories from GTB and later the acquisition of Access Bank.

Femi Otedola, in an emotion-laden voice, also expressed the qualities of Wigwe while Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said Wigwe lived an incredible life.

Tributes of President Bola Tinubu, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, France President, Emmanuel Macron, and former US President Bill Clinton’s were read at the event.

Friends, associations, professional colleagues, Access Bank management from Nigeria, Ghana, and the UK as well as staff took turns to eulogize the patriotism, friendship, and mentorship qualities of Wigwe.

Iyabo Okunsanya, Executive Director-in-charge of Corporate and Investment Banking at Access Bank Plc, said the opening prayer at the event.

Also, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Mr Roosevelt Ogbonna, read the citation of Wigwe while Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the former group managing director of Access Bank delivered the closing speech. (NAN)