By Olayinka Adediran
Death, according to renowned English playwright, poet and actor, William Shakespeare, is a necessary end that must come when it must come. Even though it is inevitable, this supreme call of nature usually come with a rude shock depending on the circumstances surrounding one’s passing.
Access Holdings Plc, a leading multinational financial services group has tragically lost three of its top corporate leaders to death within the last three months.
The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe, and his family lost their lives in a helicopter crash that occured on Friday, February 9 in the United States.
Prime Business Africa reports that Wigwe, his wife and son as well as Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the group chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) were in the helicopter when it crashed in California near the Nevada border.
The 58-year-old chartered accountant and successful banker was the brain behind the establishment of Wigwe University located in Rivers State which will kick off in September 2023.
On 17 December 2023, the Head of Media Relations at Access Holdings, Abdul Imoyo, reportedly died after a brief illness in Lagos.
Imoyo, a media manager and experienced journalists died while receiving treatment at First Cardiology Ikoyi, Lagos.
He was a newspaper editor in Lagos before joining Access Bank in 2014 as a corporate communications manager.
Few weeks after the burial of Imoyo which took place on 18 January, death came again knocking on the door of the frontline financial services group, and this time, the arrow head of the group.
Like that of Wigwe, the death of Abdul Imoyo also pained many who through social media, expressed their sorrow of over the loss.
One month before, death had also bared its ugly fangs taking away the life of Chair of the Board of Directors of Access Holdings Plc, Bababode Osunkoya.
Mr Osunkoya, a professional accountant with over three decades of experience, went to be with the Lord on 21 November 2023 after a brief illness.
Access Holdings had appointed him in March 2022 to chair its board of directors after restructuring into a holding company.
He has since been replaced by Mr. Abubakar Aribidesi Jimoh as Chairman. According to a statement released on 21 December 2023, by Sunday Ekwochi, Group Company Secretary, Mr Jimoh is an Independent Non-Executive Director, who prior to the appointment, was the Chairman of the Board Audit Committee and the Board Finance and Investment Committee.
Wigwe’s death has thrown the nation into mourning. Reacting to the news, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo described it as “very devastating.”
In a post on his X handle on Saturday, Keyamo recalled that Wigwe and his team from both Access Holdings and Wigwe University were in his office earlier last week to discuss a lofty project they have for the country’s aviation sector before death cut off the man’s life.
“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,” Keyamo stated.
“He was in my office earlier this week 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.”
Keyamo prayed that Almighty God comforts his family members, staff, and friends across Nigeria and beyond.
A former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, described the death of Herbert Wigwe, as tragic and sad.
In a post on his official X handle Sani wrote: “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.”
Chief Economist and Partner at SPM Professional, Mr Paul Alaje, said the incident is a big blow to the banking sector, private sector And Wigwe’s family and the entire Nigerian community.
Source: PRIME Business Africa