The 14th Emir of Kano State, Mohammed Sanusi, has recounted how the late Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe, came to his rescue after he was dethroned and had to leave the state,Punch reports.

Sanusi made this known at the continuation of the night of tributes organised in Wigwe’s honour in Lagos on Wednesday.

Recounting his sojourn with the late Wigwe, Sanusi, who broke down in tears thrice, recalled how the late banker came to his rescue when he was dethroned and needed a place for him and his family to stay.

He said, “When I had problems in Kano, I called him (Wigwe) about six months before I was to leave Kano, and I said to him, ‘Herbert I know you will give all your best to solve all these problems, but I am convinced that this is what is going to happen.’ And he said to me ‘Your Highness, don’t worry, whatever happens, don’t worry we are here for you.’

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“On the day I heard on the radio that I was dethroned, the night before it happened, I called and said I wanted to come to Lagos. The announcement was made at about 9 am, and by noon, Herbert had a plane at the tarmac in Kano. I put my family on that plane, no message, no phone call, I put them on that plane. Herbert received them, put them in a hotel, and later got them accommodation for months.”

According to Sanusi, Wigwe’s kindness to him gave many the impression he (Sanusi) owned Access Bank, while Wigwe and Aig-Imoukhuede were his stooges.

“When I came we stayed there. Some people believe I own access bank and Aig and Herbert are fronting for me. They gave me the cars and the drivers, they gave me security and a private jet and they ask for nothing and they don’t talk about it. I have lived in Lagos for four years, the house my family lives in was provided by Herbert,” he said.

He added, “When I heard of his death, I said ‘In the coming weeks and months, people will get to know Herbert the human being’. They know him as a banker, as a businessman, they don’t know him as a human being. He was always about others, not about himself. You can’t imagine how one human being could have been so many things to so many people.”

Sanusi also recalled how he entrusted his life savings to Wigwe.

He revealed that this was because he (Sanusi) thought he was going to die before him (Wigwe).

“About two years ago, I put all my savings into a Trust for the education of my children, I have many and my priority as a father is to make sure that when I pass away, they will have a good education.

“I told Herbert, ‘I am placing you in charge of this Trust for the education of my children because I know that even if I die and do not leave any money, you will educate my children.

“I thought I would die before Herbert”, he revealed.

Sanusi who was comforted by Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, Aig-Imoukhuede and an aide as a result of his failure to control the tears which continued to flow from his eyes, added that because of the level of kindness Wigwe accorded him, many believed he owned Access Bank, while he (Wigwe) and Aig-Imoukhuede were his proxies.

“On the day before this happened, I was on a chat group when somebody made a few remarks about Herbert that I found offensive and I defended Herbert. I made my point very clear that this was unacceptable.

“A few days after Herbert died; a friend called me and sent me a message. He sent a message to Herbert at about 3:20 am that morning (the day of the crash), telling him how I had stood up and defended him and forwarded my entire message to him. ‘Herbert replied at 3:28 am with one word ‘unbelievable’. He sent another message at 3:50 which was not delivered. From the presentation from the air traffic controllers, the crash happened at 3:30. So possibly, the last thing Herbert read was my message talking about him,” he added.

In the same vein, Vice President Kashim Shetimma also paid glowing tribute to Wigwe.

Delivering his speech, titled, “Herbert Wigwe: The Flower That Bloomed Before Spring,” the VP said,  “Herbert, though an early bloomer in the garden of life, didn’t share the fate of those who faded away prematurely.

“Their achievements were not just individual triumphs but testaments to the collective strength of those they touched, those they built, and those they inspired. The journey of our departed brothers and sisters may have ended in a distant land, but their spirits linger in the hearts of everyone here and beyond.

“May Herbert’s legacy continue to bloom in the hearts and minds of those who strive for greatness.  Herbert left us in winter, far away from home. Herbert, the season of bloom. Spring had just arrived at his last location in the United States when the Lord called for him. But spring is not a symbol of Herbert’s bloom. His spring for us isn’t the spring of passive flowers. It is the season of raves. This spring for us isn’t a season of tears. It is a celebration of Herbert’s flight. To a height that only a few of God’s children once have attained.

“I feel privileged to be here today to share in the memories of Herbert and the pillars of his journey was defined by peculiar seasons. He bloomed long before his co-travellers. So this home that left with him.

“Today, we honour not just the soul that boarded that fateful helicopter, but the indomitable dreamers and builders that soared to heights reserved for the chosen few. Your excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, may Herbert’s legacy continue to bloom in the hearts and minds of those who strive for greatness.

“On behalf of my principal, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Access family, the banking world, and the Nigerian nation, please accept our most heartfelt condolences. May his soul rest in peace, Amen.”

PUNCH Online reported that Wigwe died in a helicopter crash in California, near the Nevada border, in the United States of America, alongside his wife, Doreen, son, Chizzy and former Managing Director of Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

Among other respected dignitaries who were in attendance were Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group, Aigboje Aig- Imoukhuede, Chairman Coronation Group, Henry Imasekha, Chairman/CEO – Berkeley Group Plc, among others.


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