I got a call about a week ago informing me that it was the birthday of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank and it would be nice to drink up on his behalf, thank the Almighty and shame the Devil as it were. Since the easing of the lockdown, boys have been looking for every opportunity to return to the old normal. I declined. I resist temptations to defy COVID-19; for, even more careful persons have fallen victim.
In normal times, I would have jumped at an opportunity to celebrate Herbert Wigwe who is certainly one of the biggest revelations in Nigeria’s banking industry in this century. When he took over the leadership of Access Bank, the Bank was no. 5. Today, that bank is No. 1 in terms of share capital, loans, deposits, reach and customer satisfaction. In April 2019, under Wigwe’s watch, Access Bank merged with Diamond Bank and became the largest bank in Africa. Wigwe has shown a capacity to control and transform every storm that comes the way of the bank. There is no doubt that he is leading Access bank in the right direction. He and his brother, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, both co-founders of Access Bank, remind me of Fola Adeola and Tayo Aderinokun who both built GT Bank into a global brand.
At a time when Nigeria’s reputation is being rubbished by the likes of Hushpuppy and Woodberry and the 419 gang, Herbert Wigwe and his team give Nigeria great hopes. He is a role model for the younger generation. Today, Access Bank is not just a Tier-I Bank, it has branches across Africa which provide jobs for millions across the continent. And yet Wigwe is just 54. He is in addition, Chairman of Nigeria’s Bankers’ Committee. A high-achieving brother like him truly deserves a drink and a salute. The organisers should please invite me next year when, hopefully, our lives would have become normal again. In the meantime, many happy returns Herbert. May your days be long.