Rivers community mourns as Wigwes are buried after week-long funeral

The surviving children, Tochi, Hannah, and David at the funeral on Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Rivers State

In a sombre ceremony, Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank, along with his wife, Chizoba and son, Chizi, were laid to rest in their hometown in Rivers State.

The community gathered, on Saturday, March 9, 2024, to bid farewell to the esteemed Wigwe family, rallying around the grieving surviving children, Tochi, Hannah, and David, offering support and condolences as they navigate the profound challenges arising from the tragic loss of their parents and brother.

The funeral service was attended by River State governor, Sim Fubara, who led other dignitaries, friends, family, and prominent figures from the banking and business community, expressing their condolences and paying their respects.

Local leaders praised Herbert Wigwe’s contributions to the financial sector and remembered the family for their philanthropic endeavours.

The burial comes after one week-long funeral rites that took place in the country’s commercial hub Lagos.

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Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who also attended the funeral, had said he would name the road leading to his oil refinery after Mr Wigwe.

“I feel very helpless because I could not prevent the tragedy that befell my friend, brother, and mentee, a very loyal friend for that matter,” he said, a few days prior at the memorial.

Tributes have also poured in from around the world.

“France has lost a great friend in Herbert Wigwe,” said a representative for French President Emmanuel Macron at the memorial on Wednesday.

Nigeria’s Vice-President Kashim Shettima mourned Mr Wigwe, saying: “Herbert left us in winter before the season of bloom.”

Herbert Wigwe and others journeying with him tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in the United States on February 9, 2024.

The helicopter was on its way to Las Vegas to attend the Super Bowl last month. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the crash site was near Nipton, on the edge of the Mojave Desert Preserve.

The weather was poor, with reports of rain and snow showers in the area. Both of the pilots were killed in the crash and a former president of the Nigerian stock exchange.

Mr Wigwe was a prominent and influential figure in the banking industry.

He founded Access Bank in 1989. It became the largest bank in Nigeria in 2018 after it acquired its main competitor, Diamond Bank.

In recent years, Mr Wigwe had been working to expand across the continent, acquiring banks in countries including Kenya, South Africa and Botswana.

He was also set to open his own higher learning tertiary institute called Wigwe University. It was set to launch in September.

At the time of his death, President Bola Tinubu said the loss was “shocking beyond comprehension.”

As the sun set over Rivers State, a sense of grief enveloped the community, marking the end of an era for a family known for their impact both professionally and personally.

The legacy of Herbert Wigwe, his wife, and his son will undoubtedly be remembered by those whose lives they touched.