FG, Access Bank, NGX mourn Wigwes, Ogunbanjo

The late Herbert Wigwe (l) and Abimbola Ogunbanjo

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, expressed shock over the loss of two Nigerian business leaders – Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings Plc Dr. Herbert Wigwe, and a former Group Chairman, Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

In a statement by his aide Ajuri Ngelale, the President described their passing as “an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.

Commiserating with the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families, the business community, and all those impacted by this harrowing incident, Mr. Tinubu also “prayed for the peaceful repose of the departed and asks God Almighty to comfort the multitude of Nigerians who are grieving and the families of the deceased at this deeply agonizing moment.”

The Board of Directors of Access Holdings Plc on Saturday announced the passing of Wigwe, who died alongside his wife Doreen, and son Chizi, on Friday, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America. 

In a statement, the Board, which extended “deep and sincere sympathies to his family and loved ones, also described Wigwe as “a key driving force and a larger-than-life personality who brought his remarkable passion, energy, and experience to the transformation of the Access franchise since joining the Bank in 2002.” 

Commenting on the passage of Dr. Wigwe, the Chairman of Access Holdings, Abubakar Jimoh, was quoted as saying: “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. 

“We remain confident that the Access Group will build further on Dr. Wigwe’s legacy of growth and operational excellence.” 

The statement also noted that “Dr. Wigwe was instrumental in the growth of Access Bank, which he co-founded with his friend and business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

“He took over as Access Bank Group CEO in 2014, focusing on the Bank’s expansion in Nigeria and Africa before taking the helm at Access Holdings in 2022.

“Under his leadership, Access Bank drove its African strategy to become Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest retail bank by customer base.

Their passing is an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.

Similarly, the NGX Group equally conveyed deep saddens over the tragic passing of the two business leaders.

The NGX in a statement yesterday, described Mr. Ogunbanjo, as a visionary leader and luminary in Nigeria’s corporate legal and capital market spheres, served as the President of the National Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from 2017 to 2021.

He was also the first Group Chairman of NGX Group from 2021 to 2022, following the demutualization of the Exchange. His strategic acumen and dedication were instrumental in shaping NGX Group’s transformative journey.

Expressing his heartfelt condolences, the Group Chairman of NGX Group, Umaru Kwairanga, was quoted as saying: “NGX Group mourns the untimely departure of Bamofin Abimbola Ogunbanjo and Dr. Herbert Wigwe, along with his wife and son.

“Bamofin Ogunbanjo’s leadership has left an indelible mark on our organization and the broader Nigerian financial community, and his legacy will continue to inspire us.

“Dr. Wigwe also leaves an unblemished footprint in our private sector. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.

Also, the Group MD/CEO of NGX Group, Temi Popoola, added: “The passing of Bamofin Ogunbanjo is a profound loss for NGX Group and the entire Nigerian private sector. He played a crucial role in shaping NGX Group, and while he will be sorely missed, his visionary leadership and impact will never be forgotten.

“It is heartbreaking to learn that Dr. Wigwe, his wife and son also lost their lives in the accident. The contributions of these two respected leaders to the financial markets and the overall private sector will be remembered, and we are committed to preserving their legacy by upholding the principles of leadership, innovation, and dedication that they exemplified.”

Aside from being on the board of several companies, the NGX also noted that Mr Ogunbanjo’s “contributions to the legal profession and corporate governance were exemplary, earning him widespread respect and admiration.”

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