Access Bank co‑founder Herbert Wigwe among 6 killed in California helicopter crash
The victims included Herbert Wigwe, his wife, his son, and the ex-president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, referred to Wigwe's death as an "overwhelming tragedy". According to the reports, investigators are examining the desert crash site in Southern California to determine the cause.
The chartered helicopter had been flying from Palm Springs to Boulder City, Nevada. The crash occurred roughly 60 miles from Las Vegas. Nigerian media reports suggest the 57-year-old banker was en route to Las Vegas to attend Sunday's Super Bowl.
Helicopter crash claims the life of Herbert Wigwe
The crash site, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, was near Nipton, at the perimeter of the Mojave Desert Reserve. The weather was adverse, with rain and snow reported in the area.
Wigwe established Access Bank in 1989. After taking over its main competitor, Diamond Bank, in 2018, it became Nigeria's largest bank. In recent times, Wigwe had focused on expansion across Africa, purchasing banks in countries such as Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana - as reported by the British portal.
As per information from the BBC, he was also set to launch a new banking service in Asia in the first quarter of 2024.
The news of his death has been met with numerous expressions of appreciation. President Tinubu called it "shocking and incomprehensible". The president's office depicted his death as a "terrible blow" to the banking sector in Nigeria and Africa."
Wigwe, a visionary
Earlier this year, in January, Wigwe argued that investment in higher education was a crucial tool to control mass migration, which "destabilizes countries around the world". He was in the process of founding his educational institution, Wigwe University. The initial plan was to start in September, in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, his birthplace.
"A comprehensive approach is needed to address the global migration problem, beginning with our conventional international development frameworks. The most effective place to curb migration is not the Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel, or the Rio Grande, but the countries that so many people are desperate to leave," – he wrote, asserting that founding the university was his opportunity to "give back to society."
The bank labeled Wigwe a "visionary leader" leaving a legacy of "excellence and compassion".
"Herbert's visionary leadership and unwavering devotion to initiatives that generate social impact have left a permanent imprint on Access Holdings and the communities we serve. His legacy will always be remembered" – stated Bank X in a press release.