Home Uncategorized A TRIBUTE Dr Herbert Wigwe: Celebrating the Fearless One

A TRIBUTE Dr Herbert Wigwe: Celebrating the Fearless One

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Dr Herbert Wigwe

By ‘Timi Alaibe
To him, I was Chief Alaibe, while I fondly called him: Herbyy. Our bond was that of brothers, making it even more difficult to write about him in the past tense. Death! You went too far!
In the world of banking, Dr. Herbert Wigwe stood tall as a colossus; his management and leadership were marked by extraordinary innovation and fearlessness. He pursued every vision with unwavering dedication, leaving behind unforgettable legacies that will continue to inspire.
  Today, with tears in our eyes and sorrow in our hearts, we reflect with pride on the profound impact he made, not just within Access Bank Holdings where he took risks and confronted challenges with confidence, but across the entire financial landscape of our nation. He came as a flame of fire and has left behind unquenchable sparks.
One might wonder why Herbert is described as fearless. He was more than just a CEO; he was a visionary whose foresight propelled Access Bank Holdings to unprecedented heights.
His strategic acumen and relentless pursuit of excellence transformed challenges into opportunities, and inspired those around him not only to dream, but to reach for greatness.
In celebrating him as the fearless one, we honor a man whose courage knew no bounds. Herbert fearlessly charted new paths, embraced change, and championed progress, leaving indelible marks on the sands of time. Even those who did not like his guts, cherished his glittering accomplishments.
Beyond his professional endeavors, Herbert’s integrity, humility, and compassion touched the lives of countless individuals and groups.
It is undeniable that he was a true friend to colleagues; a good neighbor, a brother and an uncle to those who needed a shoulder to rest on; and a guiding light and inspiration to the next generation – always ready to extend a helping hand, with words of encouragement.
Beginning from this era, when we remember Herbert, it would not only be because he was a businessman extraordinaire—a reckless optimist who saw results where others got scared.
It would also be said with certainty that he was a devoted family man. In life and in death, his family was his pride. He cherished his wife and children and sadly departed into eternity with his wife, Chizoba and son, Chizi.
Outside the banking hall and boardroom politics, where deals were initiated and closed, Herbert had other passions. One of them was his pursuit of education—a commitment that shone brightly through the establishment of Wigwe University as a testament to his faithfulness in empowering future generations with knowledge and opportunity.
In the celestial realm, his focused and deliberate support for the Redeemed Christian Church of God was unprecedented.
In the sporting business, Herbert and his group sponsored the Polo Tournaments, and the now famous Lagos Marathon, an act that convincingly exemplified his commitment to philanthropy and community development, aimed at further enriching the lives of many.
 
That brings me to my last physical encounter with Herbert. It was during a trip to Cape Town on the 14th of December 2023 when I travelled with Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu for the Access Bank-sponsored Polo Tournament.
During that trip, Herbert and Ambassador Idaere-Gogo Ogan stormed the hotel where we stayed and spent valuable time cracking jokes and lounging with us on the eve of the tournament. He later hosted us to a dinner after the tournament.
Though the dinner lasted till 1 am, Herbert still left South Africa by 5 am to Lagos for a scheduled business meeting. He was a man with set goals—planning as though the world will not end and working as though tomorrow will not come.
Once upon a time, Herbert and I disagreed. His reaction exposed another side of him to me – he refused to create an opportunity for a formal settlement.
While I was still fuming, he showed up at my family home in Ikoyi, on my birthday, with a smile on his face. What a way to settle a Cold War with a brother. That was Herbert, my brother.
Some time in 1997/98, I was elected to chair the Rivers-Bayelsa Professionals Forum in Lagos. Herbert was my deputy. In 2000, when I was appointed to the board of the newly created Niger Delta Development Commission, it was expected that Herbert would move into my shoes. He did, as a demonstration of his love for his roots. This love he continued to replicate in his generous interventions in the activities of the Port Harcourt City One Love Family.
These personal anecdotes, in addition to his professional achievements, reflect Herbert’s genuine character; especially his ability to mend and sustain relationships with warmth and sincerity.
He didn’t just lead with authority and professional ingenuity, he connected with people at a deeply personal level, leaving a lasting impression of kindness and camaraderie.
For those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, though he may no longer walk and talk with us, his spirit lives on in the friendship we built, in the institutions he helped shape, and in our hearts. I expect that we would honour his memory by continuing his legacy of fearlessness, innovation, and service to others.
As we bid farewell to Herbert, his wife and son, we will continue to celebrate his legacy of courage, resilience, and unwavering commitment to excellence. May his legacy inspire us all to dare greatly, dream boldly, and live fearlessly.
Rest in peace, My Brother. Your memory will endure for generations to come. Adieu.

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