Group CEO Access Corporation, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, takes over as President, France-Nigeria Business Council after its pioneer President, Chairman of BUA Group Abdul Samad Rabiu’s two-term tenure. Many expect the strategic Euro-African platform to blossom under the adroit and circumspect guidance of its new leadership, writes Louis Achi
Penultimate week, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO of Access Corporation took over from Abdul Samad Rabiu, chairman of BUA Group, as the president of the strategic France-Nigeria business council. Rabiu served as the council’s president for two terms.
According to a statement issued by the Council, Rabiu handed over the reins to Wigwe in a ceremony held on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Paris, France. This definitely marks a new chapter in the Council’s history.
During Samad Rabiu’s tenure as pioneer president, the Council achieved significant milestones in strengthening business ties between France and Nigeria, promoting mutual growth and prosperity.
In his farewell address, the BUA Group’s Chairman expressed gratitude to the Council members, President Macron and other stakeholders for their unwavering support during his tenure. He acknowledged the exceptional service of Jean Haas, the Secretary of the Council, who will continue in his role under the Herbert Wigwe leadership.
He also expressed strong confidence in Dr. Wigwe’s ability to lead the Council towards new heights, citing his vast experience and keen understanding of the global financial landscape as key assets.
As Dr. Wigwe begins his tenure, Council members, including the BUA Chairman, have pledged their support and look forward to continued collaboration in fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth for both France and Nigeria.
France-Nigeria Business Council
The France-Nigeria Business Council is a key platform for strengthening business ties between France and Nigeria targeting promotion of mutual growth and prosperity. It also serves as a nexus for collaboration, innovation, and partnership between the two nations, fostering an environment conducive to sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The Council has Gilbert Chagoury of Chagoury Group, Mike Adenuga of Globacom and Conoil, Aliko Dangote of Dangote Industries, Tony Elumelu, Chairman UBA & Heirs Holdings, and Herbert Wigwe, CEO, Access Coporation as the Nigerian members of the council. The largest French companies including Dassault, Danone, Axens, Ponticelli and Total Energies are also members of the council.
It would be recalled that in June 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the France-Nigeria Business Council – as a private sector initiative to enhance business relations between the two countries.
The new Council then had Abdul Samad Rabiu, Founder/Chairman of Nigeria’s BUA Group as its inaugural President. Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Council in Paris on the sidelines of the Business France Summit in Versailles, France, Abdul Samad Rabiu thanked President Macron for “his vision in creating the French Nigeria Business Council which has led to a reset in the business relationship between Nigeria and France and has created a viable platform for business from both countries to partner and improve business ties.”
Herbert Wigwe Takes Charge
Now in the saddle as President, France-Nigeria Business Council, many economy sector observers are keen to track the changes Dr. Wigwe will bring to the critical platform. Industry analysts familiar with his track-record know that he has shown a relentless pursuit for growth and has done so in a measured and calculated manner.
They believe that what Dr. Wigwe and his team have done to transform the growth trajectory of Access Corporation is nothing short of remarkable.
It is against this background that the change of baton at France-Nigeria Business Council vis-a-vis the huge potentials for an economically beneficial well moderated two-way business relationship between the two Euro-African giants – France and Nigeria can hardly be overstressed.
The former Council President Samad Rabiu rather nailed it when he accurately observed that, “Nigeria is blessed with numerous potentials for French companies to do business across different areas, notably solid minerals, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, associated equipment, power, food processing, and even in the business of associated equipment or infrastructure for the value chains of these sectors.”
Dr. Wigwe brings a compelling industry background to enable him create a massive sea change at the France-Nigeria Council. Beyond strategic acquisitions under his firm guidance Group CEO of Access Holdings Plc. trading as Access Corporation, Nigeria’s biggest bank by assets is indeed transforming Africa’s financial institutions’ eco-system.
If he can create the massive transformation at Access Corporation, the emerging consensus among economy gurus is that Dr. Wigwe can replicate the growth magic in the France-Nigeria Council.
Wigwe regularly rejects staying tamely at the end of received policy prescriptions. He covets knowledge-driven innovations, proactive engagement with stake-holders, policy makers and sure-footed action. These dimensions have been boldly mirrored in his leadership of one of the continent’s now transformed financial services behemoths.
The new France-Nigeria Council President and Access Corporation boss simply revels in pushing frontiers. Even as the world and Africa stand on the brink of substantial disruptions – and of considerable opportunity – as new business models challenge traditional templates – France-Nigeria Council will certainly benefit from Wigwe’s bold visioning and governance nous.
As it were, a powerful vision draws in ideas, people and other resources. It creates the momentum and will to make change happen. It inspires individuals, complementary organizations and institutions to commit, to persist and to give their best. Keying into this enduring philosophy, Wigwe has also deployed impeccable professionalism, discipline and persistence to change the traditional narrative of business governance.
It could be recalled that mid-May, Access Bank, the flagship company of Access Holdings PLC, officially launched its subsidiary in Paris, France to connect the former colonial power with Africa. Access Bank’s presence in France represents an important step towards achieving its goal of bridging worlds and connecting opportunities for African businesses. The Bank’s latest stride also lays a marker for realising its recently unveiled 5-year strategic growth plan.
Although driven by a different industry visioning, it cannot be denied that this notable growth trajectory will generate further bigger-picture business synergy – with Wigwe recently taking charge at France-Nigeria Business Council.
Unquestionably, Access Bank’s presence in France represents an important step towards achieving its goal of bridging worlds and connecting opportunities for Nigerian/African businesses.
With his recent emergence as the President of the Council, Wigwe is uniquely positioned to instigate more opportunities for scaled economic growth and development across the France-Nigeria divide. He would definitely sway the flow of capital, goods, and services across both countries, as well as support economic growth and development.
It’s no secret that where French businesses have formerly been risk-averse or outrightly unable to do business with Africa’s largest economy Nigeria, they can now be assured of a platform through which they can penetrate and mutually grow the market.
Where Nigerian companies were initially leery and had not seen French companies or the French market as a viable destination due to a lack of information, they can now be sure of a platform to facilitate this. With Wigwe in the France-Nigeria Council cockpit, significant changes beckon.
French President Macron’s pledge that his government’s support to facilitating better dialogue amongst the Nigerian businesses present and their French counterparts represents a confidence boosting commitment from that country highest level of government.
Many observers are certain that going forward, regular France-Nigeria Business Forums in Paris and Abuja/Lagos to support various related initiatives fostering collaboration between the brightest minds of both nations and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs would be a key feature of the Council’s new leadership.
It is game on.