Access Holdings Mourns Wigwe, to Name Successor Soon

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Access Holdings Plc has confirmed the death of its Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Herbert Wigwe and announced plans to appoint a successor.

Mr Wigwe died in a helicopter crash on Friday night with his wife, Doreen and son, Chizi, and a former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

The bank in a statement on Sunday signed by its scribe, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, confirmed the unfortunate incident, saying, “It is with deep sadness that the Board of Directors of Access Holdings Plc announces the passing of Dr Herbert Wigwe, the company’s founding Group Chief Executive Officer and former Group Managing Director of its flagship subsidiary Access Bank Plc.

“Dr Wigwe died alongside his wife and son on Friday, February 9, 2024, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America.”

They are reported to have been en route Boulder City, Nevada from from Palm Springs, California, on Friday night when the helicopter conveying them crashed at about 10 pm, near a small town in California’s Mojave Desert.

A total of six people were in the helicopter that crashed near the California-Nevada border. No one survived the crash.

What exactly led to the crash of the Airbus Helicopters EC-130 remains unclear but during a press briefing on Sunday, Business Post gathered that the area was windy.

“The Access Family has suffered a major loss with the passing of Dr Wigwe who was a great friend and fine gentleman. He had a prodigious intellect, admirable personal qualities, and vast business experience which he brought to bear on the Access Family and for which we owe him a debt of gratitude.

“In line with the Company’s policy, the Board will soon announce the appointment of an Acting Group Chief Executive Officer even as we remain confident that the Access Group will build further on Dr. Wigwe’s legacy of growth and operational excellence,” the statement read.

President Bola Tinubu in a statement on Sunday by his media aide, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, described the helicopter crash as an overwhelming tragedy.

He said he received with shock and deep distress the news of the passing of Mr Wigwe, top banker and entrepreneur, and Mr Ogunbanjo, a former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.

Tributes have also poured in from other personalities including the former Vice President and the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Atiku Abubakar, his Labour Party counterpart, Mr Peter Obi, the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Executive Chairman of Geregu Power Plc, Mr Femi Otedola, and the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN).

The Kaduna State Governor, Mr Uba Sani and Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun also described as tragic the reported death of the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc.

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