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February 12, 2024

Wigwe determined to make major contributions beyond banking – Atedo Peterside

'Farewell to a visionary leader': Access Bank announces Wigwe's death

Founder of Stanbic IBTC, Atedo Peterside said the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, Herbert Wigwe, was determined to make more major contributions in Nigeria beyond the banking sector prior to his death.

Peterside stated this while speaking about the life of the late Wigwe in an interview with Arise Television on Monday.

According to Peterside, one of such major contributions is the world class institution, Wigwe University, that he set up in his state of origin, Rivers State.

He said, “I now see that it is as if the purpose of his life was not just to build a bank, but to build a bank, pull resources from there, develop bigger ideas and focus on where he thought he would make a major contribution in terms of showing us a path that we can have a world class university.

“The team that he put together—my guess is that they will now be more committed than ever because they now realize it is a phenomenal trust.

“After his passing, it gave me the opportunity to piece together all our discussions through these various things that ranged from art to banking, to aviation and all and begin to piece together the things he said and did not say, what we discussed and where that is leading me.

“The final thing he mentioned in the areas he was involved in is the university. It was his latest big project. When some people pass away like this, especially when there is more than one in the family, the first instinct is to start trying to make sense of it.

“To help myself, I focused on the what ifs. What if the purpose that Herbert lived for was the purpose he discovered? What if his life was about building the bank successfully and using that to do what nobody else did? He was clear. He wanted a world class institution in Nigeria.

“Some people may think that he didn’t bring that dream to reality. It depends on what you think the purpose of someone is. I think the most important thing about the university was to conceive the idea, choose the location and then choose the partners.

“If you notice, he chose various people to work with him on that project. He created evidence and some of them are on video.

“So, I now see that it is as if the purpose of his life was not just to build a bank, but to build a bank, pull resources from there, develop bigger ideas and focus on where he thought he would make a major contribution in terms of showing us a path that we can have a world class university.

“The team that he put together; my guess is that they will now be more committed than ever because they now realize it is a phenomenal trust.”

Peterside also noted that given his various contributions and impact in Nigeria, there is a possibility that other people with the resources will start replicating his good works.

“Now, what is the significance of him doing all that for Nigeria? You and I know that Nigeria does not have, with due respect to our universities, world class institutions, so if he succeeded in bringing that idea to fruition in one place; River state, there is a possibility that others will now replicate.

“It might motivate more people with even more resources to say if Herbert could do this, what is stopping me from doing it in Maiduguri, Umuahia or even Oyo. So, this might be the beginning of something great.

“Globally, there are two kinds of wealthy people. Some people are wealthy and they want that money to keep it and nurture it. Some other people believe that the wealth that came their way through hard work or whatever, is a means to an end. They were supposed to use it for a greater purpose. I think Herbert was clearly of that type.

“Till now, we are talking about banking, but if you talk to the people in the art sector, some of them will argue that Herbert’s biggest contribution to Nigeria Is in the development of the art. If you now talk to the athletes, they will ask you who knew about the Lagos marathon before now?”

On how Wigwe lived throughout his lifetime, Peterside emphasised that the Wigwe legacy can never die.

“Some people are wealthy and nobody can reach them on their phone. Herbert was reachable by many young people. You see all sorts of people saying he found time for us. That was him.

“I don’t think Herbert’s legacy can die. Let’s be very careful because sometimes in this environment, especially in Africa, we talk about legacy as if it has boundaries.

“There is a reason that some people’s works live long after them and that is the real legacy. Generally, people say, If you invest in human beings, if you impact lives, those humans carry it forward.”