Herbert Wigwe, Wife, Son Buried in Rivers Amid Tears, Eulogies

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Thousands of Nigerians and foreigners Saturday, trooped into Isiokpo community in Ikwerre Local Government Area in Rivers state, for the burial of the late Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc,  Dr Herbert Wigwe, his wife (Chizoba) and son (Chizi).

Wigwe, his wife and son, and a former chairman of Nigeria Exchange , Otunba Abimbola Ogunbajo  died on February 8, in a helicopter crash, in the United States of America.

As at 9.30am Saturday, dignitaries both international, national and local were seated at the Lion of Judah Parish of Redeem Christian Church of God, Isiokpo community, awaiting the arrival of the remains of the deceased.

Immediately the remains of late Herbert, his wife and son arrived the church premises in three ambulances, followed by a convoy and musical band group, at about 11:08am, everybody at the venue of the service wore a mournful look. Some were sighted crying profusely, lamenting the great loss in the country.

THISDAY observed that as the time of the arrival of the remains, of the deceased, prominent dignitaries were eagerly awaiting to receive him, his wife and son at the church altar. 

Prominent dignitaries at the event include: the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpobio, Minister of Finance, Olawale Edu, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, former speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Govs. Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Alex Otti (Abia), Douye During (Bayelsa), Eno Umo (Akwa Ibom), presidential candidate of Labour in 2023, Mr Peter Obi, Chairman of Arise/THISDAY, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, and Aliko Dangote.

Others are former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido, Governor of Ogun state, Dapo Abiodun, former Delta governor, James Ibori, former Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi, former Rivers governor, Celestine Omehia, former national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, Sahara Energy boss, Tonye Cole, Timi Alaibe, others.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who spoke on behalf of the federal government and the National Assembly, described the late  Herbert Wigwe as a global citizen and iconic future who invested heavily in lives and fed so many people across the globe 

Akpabio also described late Herbert as a great mentor, saying that he mentored a lot of younger people, adding that he was a serious role model to the future generation “that you can build from nothing and get greatness and with hard work you can achieve greatness”.

He said “The university he has left behind was because of his passion for education. He helped and educated a lot of people. Like I said, so many are enshrined in his heart because he sent so many to educational citadel across the world. Leaving this education for us, the university is not just for Nigerians but the entire global community”.

Speaking further, Akpabio described Herbert as a global banker, who left a legacy in education that he will be remembered for in years to come. 

He said: “It’s not how long you lived but how well and the impact. Here is a young man who left so much impact on generations unborn, he gave food to so many people in Nigeria and globally. Many countries in Africa, in Dubai, other places, he was in China, he did a lot. 

“He put food on the table of so many people in the world. So, I regarded him as ‘Global Citizen ‘, an Icon on the world that we have lost. Is very unfortunate that he died together with his wife and first son.” 

Describing the incident that led to the death of the business guru as a tragedy, the Senate President said “I pray Nigeria should never witness this again and may it never happen to any family. If only you were close to him you can understand the energy, the vivaciousness that Nigeria has lost. Herbert Wigwe was a great man, he was a friend to all, a who smiles without question, who touch lives without asking.”

According to Akpabio, “Sometimes God gives signs, that said those that God love most, he takes them young. He was doing everything in a hurry. You see the fantastic structure for his retirement home for his family in Lagos, even the beautiful university, one of the best in the whole of West Africa, that he has concluded”. 

He continued “For all of us who are mortal, this death is very painful. We are not going to cry in one day alone, we will cry for so many days. When you remember the fact that his heir, Chizi, was already an iconic figure, a talented young man, highly educated from the best university, prepared to takeover the empire from the father, and yet he is no more, you will cry.

“When you think that the wife could have been here to mourn with us, she joined him, then you will cry. Then you will ask yourself, just like Governor Fubara said, what is the struggle all about”, Akpabio added. 

Earlier in his speech, the governor of Rivers state, Siminalayi Fubara, assured that the state government will immortalise late Herbert Wigwe, adding that the state will ensure the success of the Wigwe University, which he noted was the only investment attached to the name of the late banker.

The governor expressed the need for people to impact the society, especially in the lives of the needy, adding that life is a journey that will some day get to its destination.

Governor Fubara stressed “I have this question always in my mind. What is life all about. Yesterday night, we sang a hymn said ‘Fading away of the sun in the morning’, and I came to a conclusion that life is not the one million years that we lived, but even if we spend an hour, let the hour be impactful. He has made a great contribution to humanity”.

He lamented “Here lies our brother, his wife, son. Everyone has come to celebrate them, it means even the short period that he lived, he lived an impactful life.

“The next question had to do with our political class: what is all this trouble all about? You want to kill, you want to bury, what is it all about? This is a man, not a politician, he made his money through  investment. He has the world in his hand, he controlled even the political class but today, with all the powers financially, couldn’t control life. 

“Is it not enough to ask ourselves, what are we struggling for? Why are we not making impacts in the life of our people? Please, political class go home with that question and being answering it in our mind and reflecting it in what we do”.

The governor however, thanked “the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. I felt a bit unhappy because he took a shine, he’s been very supportive of the programme right from the beginning, throughout the programme in Lagos and he is not even a Rivers man. It will not be complete if I do not mention Alhaji Aliko Dangote for his support”.

He assured that “For we as a state, by the special grace of God that I represent, I am the host, nobody can take that away from me. I want to say that our brother has finished his work, though shortly, we as a government will do everything with the Wigwe Foundation to Immortalise one thing that has his name, which is the Wigwe University. 

“We will do everything within our power to make sure that the dream will continue to live just as he had planned it. It is a difficult situation to many of us. As a matter of fact is affecting me, I am an inlaw here. We must do everything to keep the name for our brother”.

To the Wigwe’s family, Fubara said “At this critical time, is not the crowd here that will console you, the only person that will give you an everlasting consolation is God and God will fill that gap for you”.

Speaking with THISDAY at the event, Aminu Tambuwal, former Speaker, House of Representatives and former governor of Sokoto state, said “Herbert Wigwe, someone who was at his prime, doing his best and  giving his best to the financial service of Nigeria. But we cannot question God. It was his time, the Almighty God has called upon him, he has answered the call.”

Tambuwal said “Our consolation is that he did very well and has left a very lasting legacy”. 

At the end of the church service at about 2pm, the remains of the 57 years old late Herbert Wigwe, Doreen Wigwe (56) and Chizi (29) were laid to rest at the premises of the Wigwe University, in his Isiokpo hometown.

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