THE WIGWE LEGACY: A Close Look At Family Dynamics And Property Ventures 🎊 The Scoper Media 



    Christendom, especially the Anglican faith which regales in rituals couched in hymns and psalms, has a popular dirge which says solemnly yet poignantly that it is only in death that whatever work we have done, good or bad, is remembered.

Last weekend, the death of Herbert Wigwe along with his wife, son and three other persons in a helicopter crash in California, United States, hit the airwaves in Nigeria like a thunderbolt. Ever since then, a lot has been said and heard about this man who, at less than 60, has seen the best of life in terms of achievements and accomplishments.

Wigwe had a name that commanded attention. What that name conjured wherever and whenever it was mentioned was the burgeoning, though sometimes exploitative, banking industry in and outside Nigeria where he was, unarguably, a colossus.

It is now that he is no more that all he did, besides what he was overtly known for and all the values he represented including his dreams, are being brought to the fore by close family friends, business associates and those who just took keen interest in his fast-paced trajectory in business.

Wigwe was a banking Czar who rose from the cradle of the industry to its very pinnacle. He was the group managing director and CEO of Access Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s top five banking institutions, after succeeding his business partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. That everybody knows.

But not until his death did many know that, beyond banking, Wigwe and his family were major players in Nigeria’s thriving, yet challenging real estate sector where they have left strong footprints in the building and construction segments of that sector.

In terms of real estate assets, Access Bank, as a leading institution, has built and also acquired a great deal of office buildings most of which are iconic in nature by virtue of their architectural designs and finishing. Across Nigeria and Africa, the bank has office buildings that come off easily as signatures, masterpieces and cynosures to behold.

Late last year, Wigwe demonstrated an uncommon taste for luxury real estate with the opening of his iconic mansion which has ‘wowed’ the great and mighty in Nigeria including billionaires Femi Otedola and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who were hosted in the mansion not long ago.

The Wigwe mansion, nestled on Queens Drive in Ikoyi-the home of sizzling and breath-taking luxury real estate in Nigeria, has been the major discourse among real estate buffs since his death because of its opulence, size and cost that runs into billions of naira.

This is a state-of-the-art, multi-billion naira piece of infrastructure that sits on 23,000 square metres, an equivalent of the size of land on which Ikeja City Mall is built. It is a fully automated residential building with over 80 percent of materials imported.


According to reports, the mansion whose cost has been estimated variously at N10 billion and N30 billion took the contractor 22 months to complete. Suraj Oyewole, a real estate expert, was quoted as saying that “the design fees alone would be about $1.5 million. Start adding from there. About 80 percent of the building materials are imported. The land at least N5billion+.”

The Wigwe mansion which has sparked varied comments from Nigerians as to why somebody would invest so much in residential real estate. Is not really the surprising story. Nor is the story that Wigwe is said to have “other luxury properties sprinkled all over Lagos.”

What is the story instead is that the Wigwe family, specifically his wife, Chizoba, has a construction firm known as Craneburg Construction Company which was the contractor that handled the building of the Wigwe Queens Drive Ikoyi Mansion.

When this reporter went on inspection tour of the Lekki-Epe Expressway reconstruction, sometime last year, the construction firm that was at work between Awoyaya and Ijeshatedo was Craneburg Construction. Little did one know that the firm was indigenous.

Writing on ‘The Untold Story Of Herbert Wigwe’s Wife, Chizoba’, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, former managing director of Arise News, recalls how, from wholesale trading in Oke-Arin market in the heart of Lagos Island, Wigwe’s wife ventured into real estate and construction industry.

Until their death, not many Nigerians knew that Craneburg Construction which has done building and construction projects in many parts of the country belonged to the Wigwes. It was this firm that built the highways, bridges and toll plaza from Lekki Phase II all the way to and within Epe town, making the journey to Ijebu Ode in Ogun State less arduous.

Craneburg has also built roads and flyovers in Ondo, Imo, Adamawa, Ogun, Bauchi, Gombe and other states. It has undertaken airport construction projects, oil and gas, and marine projects. It is today one of Nigeria’s largest, diversified construction groups, employing about 7,000 people who are working across all major sectors of the economy.

It is, therefore, safe to say in this connection that while the banking industry is grieving over the loss of one of the finest and most audacious the industry has seen, the real estate and construction industry are no less aggrieved that one of its own is gone.

But the good news is that, as the church would say, ‘though they are fading away like the stars of the morning, they will forever be remembered by the good work they have done.’


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