Dr. Herbert Wigwe was a visionary leader, philanthropist, and the founder of Wigwe University. In his professional life, he was the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc (also known as “Access Corporation”), a multi-national financial services organization that offers commercial banking, lending, payment, pension, insurance, and asset management services.
Access Corporation is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria and operates through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 18 countries, and 50+ million customers managed by over 28,000 employees. Access Bank, the Corporation’s banking business, is one of Africa’s largest retail banks by customer base and total assets.
For eight years and until May 2022, Dr. Wigwe led Access Bank Plc as its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer through an extraordinary growth period. Some of the accolades accorded him include Banker of the Year, 2020 by Leadership Awards; African Banker of the Year, 2021 by African Banker Award; and Best Banking CEO, 2021 by Global Brands Magazine Awards.
A passionate advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Wigwe spoke frequently at business forums and conventions, strongly encouraging a global business commitment to the achievement of the goals. In his role as Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Dr. Wigwe was the first African sponsor of the United Nations Global Compact Initiative.
He was a Board member of Nigeria’s Business Coalition Against AIDS which leads major businesses in Nigeria in fighting HIV and AIDS at all levels ofintervention within the health system and the private sector workforce. Similarly, he advocated the eradication of malaria in Africa, and was a partner of the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa to achieve this objective.
Dr. Wigwe’s commitment to the development of Nigeria and Africa extended to numerous initiatives. At the onset of the COVID-19 global crisis, for example, Dr. Wigwe swiftly responded to Nigeria’s private and public healthcare’s inability to respond effectively by galvanizing support for and co-leading theformation of CACOVID (Coalition Against COVID-19) comprised of the Central Bank of Nigeria; major financial institutions in Nigeria; and key stakeholders in Nigeria’s private sector. Dr. Wigwe led the Coalition to support the Federal Government in mitigating the impact of the pandemic and reopening the economy.
Dr. Wigwe, Access Bank and UNICEF collaborated to support vulnerable children, orphans, and internationally displaced persons in the northern part of Nigeria. To raise awareness and funds for this purpose, the Bank organizes and hosts annual high-profile Access Bank/UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournaments in Nigeria, London, and South Africa.
In 2023, Dr. Wigwe embarked on a transformative journey by founding Wigwe University. With a vision to ignite Africa’s potential for prosperity and nurture fearless leaders who will change the course of history, he had introduced an institution that is set to rival top universities around the world. Wigwe University promises to elevate educational standards while creating a unique African experience. Dr. Wigwe believed that education is the key to unlocking Africa’s potential and through Wigwe University, he sought to leave a legacy that will contribute immensely to the continent’s greatness.
His commitment to education was rooted in the belief that nurturing intellectual capital is pivotal for societal development. Dr. Wigwe envisioned Wigwe University as a beacon of knowledge, innovation, and excellence, designed to empower future leaders and contribute to the socio-economic advancement of the continent. This endeavor represents his profound dedication to shaping a brighter future for Africa, making education the cornerstone of his enduring legacy.
In 2023, in recognition of exemplary service to his country, Dr. Wigwe was awarded the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic – one of the nation’s top honours.
Dr. Wigwe was an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Management Programme. He had Honorary Doctorate degrees from the University of Port Harcourt, Gombe State University and University of Nigeria, Master’s Degrees in Law, Banking and International Finance, and Financial Economics from the University of London, University of North Wales and University of London, respectively. He also had a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He was married to Chizoba and their union was blessed with four children, one of whom died with him and his wife in the helicopter crash.