Banking/Finance News

Who was Access Holdings’ Herbert Wigwe?

Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe, a luminary in the Nigerian banking sector, was born on August 15, 1966 in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. As the CEO of Access Holdings Plc, traded as Access Corporation, Herbert Wigwe carved a niche for himself in the world of finance.

From Humble Beginnings to a Banking titan

Wigwe’s academic journey was as impressive as his professional ascent. With a degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria and further education in Banking and Finance, Financial Economics, and an executive program from Harvard Business School, he was well-equipped for the challenges ahead.

His career began at Coopers & Lybrand, Lagos, before moving to GTBank, where he spent over a decade honing his skills in corporate and institutional banking. The turning point came in 2002 when he and Aig-Imoukhuede took a bold step by investing in Access Bank, then a small player in Nigeria’s banking industry.

Under Wigwe’s visionary leadership, Access Bank transformed into a powerhouse, now serving over 6.5 million account holders and ranking among the top 500 global banks. His roles extended beyond banking, as he served in various capacities, including as the Chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited and a member of several prestigious boards.

A Legacy of Innovation and Philanthropy

Wigwe’s impact was not limited to banking. His passion for philanthropy led him to establish the Herbert Wigwe Foundation, fostering education and entrepreneurship in Nigeria. His dedication earned him the Order of the Niger (CON) and admiration from peers and the public alike.

The Dream of Wigwe University

Perhaps Wigwe’s most ambitious project was the establishment of Wigwe University. Launched with a $500 million investment, the university aimed to revolutionise higher education in Nigeria and West Africa. With a focus on management, science, engineering, and the arts, Wigwe University was set to provide world-class education, blending traditional methods with innovative technology.

The university, situated in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, was approved by the National Universities Commission in June 2023. Its curriculum was designed to address critical sectors such as finance and technology, while also nurturing leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

Wigwe’s vision was clear: to create an institution that could compete globally, yet remain distinctly African. He planned to recruit top teaching talents from around the world, focusing on making education a tool for shaping fearless, innovative leaders.

An Unparalleled Educational Experience

Wigwe University promised not just academic excellence but a holistic approach to education. Sports, arts, and practical experience were integral parts of its curriculum, ensuring that students received a well-rounded education. The university’s inaugural batch was expected to be a diverse group of 1,400 students, with plans to increase enrollment significantly over the next five years.


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