Many Nigerians on Saturday expressed condolences to the family of Herbert Wigwe, Access Holdings Chief Executive Officer, who was involved in a helicopter crash in the United States late Friday.
Mr Wigwe, his wife, and his son are believed to be among the six passengers in a helicopter that crashed in the US early Saturday Nigerian time (late Friday local time).
Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), is also believed to be part of the passengers.
The Eurocopter EC130 helicopter crashed around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, Calif, an unincorporated community approximately 60 miles south of Las Vegas in eastern San Bernardino County, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Officials from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were notified of the downed aircraft at 10:12 p.m. local time, according to Mara Rodriguez, a public information officer with the department. She added that the crash site was located east of Interstate 15, near Halloran Springs Road.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the ill-fated Flight N130CZ, operated by Orbic Air LLC, took off from Palm Springs, California, at 8:45 p.m. but was last seen near Fort Irwin/Barstow, California, at 9:49 p.m., Friday.
The cause of the crash of the Airbus Helicopter EC-130 remains unclear as of press time Sunday morning.
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said in a message posted Saturday on her X handle that she feels deeply saddened by Mr Wigwe’s passing.
“Terribly saddened by the news of the terrible loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO Access Bank, his wife and son as well as Bimbo Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash.
“My deepest sympathies and condolences to the Wigwe family, the Ogunbanjo family, Access Bank Group employees and Management @myaccessbank and my younger Brother Herbert’s partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace,” she wrote.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election and former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, described the death of Mr Wigwe as an unfortunate incident.
He also expressed condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of the deceased.
“In the words of one of Nigeria’s finest CEOs, Herbert Wigwe, ‘Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift – a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect. Let’s honour this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days’.
“I’m deeply saddened to hear about the unfortunate incident that led to the loss of Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, and his family. Indeed, Herbert Wigwe, consummate banker, education promoter, and philanthropist, numbered his days. On behalf of my family, my heart goes out to their loved ones and everyone affected by this unfortunate incident. May their souls rest in peace.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, also paid his tribute while describing Mr Wigwe’s passing as a tragic loss of a friend.
“The reported tragic loss of my friend, brother and not-far-away neighbour in Lagos, Herbert Wigwe, the co-founder of Access Bank, the CEO of Access Holdings and the founder of Wigwe University, is very devastating.
“He was in my office earlier this week (where we took the pictures below) and actually left my office to fly out of the country and never came back. I am also shocked to learn his wife, son and other friends were involved in this tragedy.
“We were on the verge of announcing something big for the aviation sector, the reason he actually came to the office with his entire team, both from Access and Wigwe University. This is surreal and I am lost for words.
“May Almighty God comfort his aged parents and siblings (who were also my neighbours in Lagos for many years as a very young lawyer in Anthony Village), his immediate family members, his staff, friends across Nigeria and dependents,” he said.
A former Nigeria senator, Shehu Sani, in a statement posted on his X handle on Saturday, described the death of Mr Wigwe as tragic and heartbreaking.
“The news of the death of Access Bank CEO Herbert Wigwe and five others in a helicopter crash is tragic, sad and heartbreaking. A great loss. May their souls rest in peace,” he said.
Adamu Garba, an IT entrepreneur and Nigerian politician, in his remarks, said Mr Wigwe’s energy, dedication to duty, and commitment to excellence are unceasing.
“The death of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of AccessBank Plc, really really touched me. I recall in 2011 when Herbert was the COO of Access Bank, the IT department was under him. I was a professional IT consultant for an integration project at the bank.
“We migrated their mailboxes and merged them with those of Intercontinental Bank, after the acquisition. I proceeded to deploy what is called Right Management Services RMS to protect their information flow. That was a requirement for their processes of compliance with ISO 27001 certification. It was critical at that moment.
“During testing, Herbert will be the first to reply whenever we send a test mail, no matter how late. He will be the first to confirm if things work or don’t. I was not surprised in the least when he became the CEO afterwards.
“His energy, dedication to duty, and commitment to excellence are unceasing. May God in his infinite mercy bless his soul, and that of his wife and son with eternal resting place.”
Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a professor and a United States-based innovator and tech entrepreneur, described Mr Wigwe as one of Nigeria’s finest entrepreneurs and businessmen.
“Herbert Wigwe, one of Nigeria’s finest bankers and 2018 Tekedia Businessperson Of The Year has died. Bloomberg reports that he died in a helicopter crash in Southern California, along with other people, including some of his family members.
“As I wrote when I chose him as the businessperson of the year – “For that bravado and vision, knowing that in a digital banking future, marginal cost is everything, and scale improves competitiveness, I have chosen Herbert Wigwe as my Businessperson of the Year” – Herbert had an uncommon capability to think big.
“Nigeria and indeed Africa mourn one of its finest entrepreneurs and businessmen. Our condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy, and pray for strength to overcome.”
The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi, described Mr Wigwe as a visionary leader whose passion extended beyond finance.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings Plc, who passed away tragically in a helicopter accident. A visionary leader, Herbert’s passion extended beyond finance; he was profoundly committed to supporting Nigerian youth.
“Through The HOW Foundation, he dedicated himself to empowering the next generation, and his efforts to establish Wigwe University showcase his unwavering belief in the transformative power of education.
“Herbert’s legacy of nurturing young minds and fostering educational opportunities will continue to inspire us. Our thoughts are with his loved ones during this time. Rest in peace, Herbert. Your impact will not be forgotten,” he said.
Asue Ighodalo, a Nigerian lawyer and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant for the forthcoming Edo gubernatorial election, also expressed grief over the demise of Mr Wigwe.
Mr Ighodalo in a statement posted via his X handle on Saturday night described Mr Wigwe’s death as disturbing while expressing condolences and sympathy to the families and loved ones of the deceased.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear brother Herbert Wigwe, his wife and son as well as my dear brother Abimbola Ogunbanjo and two others in this most unfortunate helicopter crash near Califonia.
“Words fail to express the grief my family and I feel in the face of this most disturbing news. As we face the very difficult days to follow this extremely distressing development, I most humbly call for prayers for the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families as well as all of us who are distraught by this harrowing event.
“My deepest condolences,” Mr Ighodalo wrote.
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