Herbert Wigwe’s Unwavering Commitment to Nigeria’s Transformation

Peter Uzoho

In line with his commitment to Nigeria’s transformation, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, recently announced a collaboration with the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to create numerous opportunities that would not only shape the city, but also have impact across Nigeria and Africa.

During a recent visit to the African Export–Import Bank’s (Afreximbank) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, top executives from Access Holdings led by Wigwe, had strategic meetings and explored partnership opportunities for financing various infrastructure projects of the Lagos State Government through Access Bank Plc.
The move further solidified Wigwe and the organisation’s commitment to transforming lives and shaping the future.

Some of the major projects that Access Holdings would be investing in through Access Bank include the Fourth Mainland Bridge, the second phase of the Blue Line rail, the Omu Creek Project, Lekki-Epe International Airport, and the Lagos Food Systems and Logistics Hub in Epe.
The collaborative effort between Access Holdings and the Lagos State Government aims to transform the city, the country, and ultimately change the face of Africa.

At the meeting, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos expressed excitement about the partnership.
Wigwe has continued to offer value-driven leadership as well as the much-needed collaboration with managers of Nigeria’s economy. He is no doubt one of the most respected bankers on the continent, without a shadow of a doubt as Access Bank under his watch went from a lower ranked Nigerian bank when he was the Deputy CEO to become one of Africa’s leading financial services groups.

He has shown a relentless pursuit for growth, but in a measured and calculated manner.
Today, Access Holdings Plc is a leading multinational financial services group that offers a wide range of services including commercial banking, lending, payment, insurance, and asset management.
As Access Holdings continues to grow, it remains committed to delivering sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible, and socially relevant. With its focus on client solutions and innovative advice, Access Corporation has become a world-class African financial institution over the past 26 years.

Indeed, the partnership between Access Holdings and the Lagos State Government signals a transformative collaboration that would bring numerous benefits and opportunities to the city, Nigeria, and the larger African continent.
With their combined expertise and resources, they are poised to create a lasting impact on the infrastructure and economic landscape.

The bank’s commitment to sustainable economic growth is commendable. By focusing on profitability, environmental responsibility, and social relevance, the bank is not only contributing to the overall well-being of the economy but also making a positive impact on the environment and society. It’s essential for businesses to prioritise these aspects to create a more sustainable and equitable future.
Access Holdings, under the leadership of Wigwe, prides itself in the fact that it serves well over 52 million unique customers, which is different from Access Bank’s accounts.

By 2027, driving by Wigwe’s expansionist plan, Access Holdings expects its Nigerian bank to be contributing about 52 per cent of revenues compared to about 82 per cent (nine- month 2022).
According to Wigwe, “Our primary focus on trade is to leverage established presence across trade and financial hubs across the world to continue driving trade outputs. Presence in London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Beijing, Mumbai, etc. and extensive footprint across the continent.

“Today, we have an operation in China, which we are going to convert into a branch because the new ordinance allows us to do that because of our size.
“As part of our desire to position ourselves as Africa’s gateway to the world, we have now basically placed ourselves in the critical trade hubs across the continent and that has helped us as far as a correspondent banking and payment is concerned.”

Speaking further, Wigwe said, “We don’t want to be seen and known as just a dot in any country. So, if you go to countries like Mozambique, we have done further acquisitions. People keep asking: why are you doing all of these? But you need to get to the critical mass before you become profitable.
“You need to get to the critical mass before you are able to employ the right management, technology and scale, otherwise you cannot compete.

“One of the things we want to be known as, is as a global player with an African heritage, and one of the things that mitigate against anybody trying to achieve that is if you are in a soft currency country. We are a growth company and we will continue to invest in our future. For us, the future is more important.
“Finally, what we then told ourselves is that the world is going through significant shift and changes with respect to technology, demographics.”
Clearly, Wigwe understands that without embracing change and having foresights, banks would not be able to compete and would be left behind by their peers. This, would definitely impact customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and revenue growth negatively.
This was why he continuously ensured that Access Holdings under his watch grew to become one of Africa’s leading financial services groups. He has shown a relentless pursuit for growth, but in a measured and calculated manner.

Wigwe has helped to develop some of Africa’s biggest companies in the construction, telecommunications, energy, oil and gas sectors through Access Bank.
The CEO of the financial institution strongly believes in the vast opportunities across Africa, which was why he aggressively drove its expansion.
According to Wigwe, Africa has enormous potential and there are opportunities for an African bank that is well run, that understands compliance and has the capacity to support trade and the right technology infrastructure to support payments and remittances, without taking incremental risks.
Wigwe is also passionate about human capital development, which led to his establishment of a university.

The licence for the university was few months ago approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The university is located at Wigwe’s hometown, Isiokpo, in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State. It is about 15 minutes’ drive from Port Harcourt International Airport and occupies about a 400-hectare land space in the sub-urban community just 40 minutes from Owerri, the capital of Imo State.

The Wigwe University would offer courses in Science; Technology (AI, Robotics programmes and other futuristic niches); Engineering; Arts (Creative Arts and science-based Art Programmes such as Gaming and Computer Creative, etc) and Mathematics (STEAM); Management and Social Sciences at the start.
It would then subsequently offer courses in Medical Sciences; Medicine; Law and Post Graduate Degrees. It would have linkage relationships with top foreign universities that would facilitate students’ exchange programs. The thrust of the university is to create leaders and entrepreneurs who will, upon graduation, be focused on creation of jobs, as opposed to job-seeking.

The university is being deliberately and carefully designed to fill these gaps, some of which are outdated curriculum; poor funding; decrepit facilities and infrastructure; poorly paid and motivated workforce. The motivation for establishing the university was principally borne out of Herbert Wigwe’s burning desires to give back to Nigeria, a country he loves passionately.

In designing the academic and non-academic programs at the university, Wigwe has hired academicians from top US universities and European institutions to work with experts from across the world, including Nigeria.
It is expected that this would contribute significantly towards the improvement of education at the tertiary level and prepare manpower from Nigeria that would be global champions and top flying entrepreneurs.
Indeed, Wigwe must be commended for his unwavering commitment towards ensure that the state of the country is transformed.

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