May 23, 2024

Herbert Wigwe Biography

Herbert Wigwe, a towering figure in the Nigerian banking sector and an influential entrepreneur, led an inspiring life marked by dedication, innovation, and a commitment to philanthropy. Born on August 15, 1966, in Lagos, Nigeria, his journey from a middle-class upbringing to becoming the CEO of Access Holdings Plc was a testament to his resilience and vision. Tragically, his promising life was cut short in a helicopter crash in 2024, leaving behind a void in the business and philanthropic communities.

Early Life and Education:

Growing up in Lagos, young Herbert Wigwe displayed an early interest in finance. His formative years at the prestigious King’s College, Lagos, were marked by academic excellence and prowess in sports. He embarked on his higher education journey at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, graduating in 1987 with a degree in Accountancy. His academic achievements were recognized with the Dean’s Prize and the ICAN Prize for the best student in Accounting.

Seeking further knowledge, Wigwe pursued advanced degrees in the United Kingdom. In 1989, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Banking and International Finance from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University). Subsequently, in 1990, he obtained a Master of Science degree in Financial Economics from the University of London. Committed to continuous learning, he completed the Harvard Business School Executive Management Program in 2006.


Herbert Wigwe embarked on his career at Coopers & Lybrand, where he honed his skills as a management consultant. His journey into the financial sector unfolded at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), where he spent over a decade contributing to corporate and institutional banking. Rising to the position of executive director in charge of institutional banking, he played a pivotal role in several landmark transactions within the Nigerian banking industry.

In 2002, alongside his business partner Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Wigwe orchestrated the acquisition of Access Bank. At the time, Access Bank was a small commercial bank ranked 65th out of 89 banks in Nigeria. Undeterred by the challenges, they embarked on a transformative journey, propelling Access Bank into the ranks of the top five banks in Nigeria and among the top 500 global banks.

Leadership at Access Bank:

Assuming the role of CEO in 2014, Herbert Wigwe continued to steer Access Bank with visionary leadership. His tenure saw the implementation of several initiatives aimed at enhancing operational efficiency, customer service, and corporate governance. Under his guidance, Access Bank expanded its operations across Africa and ventured into the United Kingdom, serving over 6.5 million account-holders.

In addition to his role as CEO, Wigwe served as the chairman of several subsidiaries of Access Bank, including Access Bank Ghana, Access Bank UK, and Access Investment & Securities. His leadership extended beyond the confines of the bank, as he served on the board of the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company and the advisory board of Friends Africa.

Personal Life:

Herbert Wigwe’s personal life was marked by a profound commitment to family. He was married to Chizoba Wigwe, and together, they raised four children: Chizi, Tochi, Hannah, and David. The story of their union was one of serendipity, as Herbert married Chizoba just four months after meeting her during her National Youth Service Corps program in Nigeria. Their partnership was a testament to his decisive and devoted nature.

Tragedy Strikes:

The tragic helicopter crash on February 10, 2024, near the California-Nevada border claimed not only Herbert Wigwe but also his wife Chizoba and their son David, along with three other individuals. The Eurocopter EC 130 crashed as they were en route to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, leaving no survivors. The cause of the crash remained under investigation by the FAA and NTSB, casting a shadow over the untimely demise of one of Africa’s leading financial minds.


Beyond his financial accomplishments, Herbert Wigwe’s legacy extended to philanthropy and community development. Recognized as the African Banker of the Year in 2021, his contributions to the banking industry and society at large were exemplary. His commitment to corporate social responsibility initiatives left an indelible mark on communities across Africa.

Net Worth:

Herbert Wigwe’s financial success was evident in his estimated net worth of over $78.1 million. As the CEO of Access Holdings Plc and a stakeholder in Access Bank, his wealth was a testament to his strategic leadership and business acumen.


In conclusion, Herbert Wigwe’s untimely departure left a void not only in the financial and philanthropic realms but also in the hearts of those who admired his leadership. His journey, from a middle-class upbringing to the pinnacle of African banking, remains an inspiring tale of resilience and determination. As the banking community mourns the loss of a visionary leader, Herbert Wigwe’s legacy lives on, etched in the success of Access Bank and the impact of his philanthropic endeavors. His life serves as a beacon for aspiring leaders and a reminder of the lasting impact one can make on the world.

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