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Herbert Wigwe’s Demise Raises Concerns Over Corporate Sensitivity

By Grace Chigbu


In the wake of the tragic demise of Herbert Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Access Bank Plc, questions arise not only about the loss of a prominent figure but also about the corporate culture and sensitivity within the banking sector.


Wigwe, along with his wife, Doreen Chizoba, and their son, Chizzy, tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash in California, United States, on February 9, 2024. The news sent shockwaves throughout the banking community and beyond.


However, what followed in the handling of this tragic event by Access Bank Plc’s management has raised eyebrows and stirred controversy. Just two days after the incident, on February 11, 2024, the bank issued a statement confirming Wigwe’s death, signed by Sunday Ekwochi, the Group Company Secretary. Within the same statement, the bank announced plans for the appointment of Wigwe’s replacement.


This swift transition from mourning to succession planning struck many as callous and insensitive. It appeared that the bank prioritized the logistical concerns of corporate leadership over honoring the memory of a beloved leader and the grieving process of his family, colleagues, and the wider community.


The haste with which Access Bank Plc moved to announce Wigwe’s replacement, Bolaji Agbede, on February 12, 2024, only compounded the perception of disregard for the gravity of the situation. Reports of celebrations at the bank’s headquarters further diminished any sympathy for Wigwe among the staff, leaving many questioning the values and priorities of the institution.


The juxtaposition of mourning and celebration within a mere forty-eight hours underscores a concerning trend where corporate interests overshadow basic human empathy and decency. The lack of a pause to honor Wigwe’s memory before rushing to fill his position highlights a systemic issue within the banking sector, where individuals are viewed merely as replaceable assets rather than valued members of a community.


Furthermore, the decision to include the announcement of Wigwe’s replacement within the same statement confirming his death speaks volumes about the culture of expedience and detachment prevailing within Access Bank Plc’s leadership. It raises questions about the sincerity of the institution’s condolences and the extent to which corporate interests supersede human compassion.


In times of tragedy, organizations must demonstrate empathy, respect, and solidarity with those affected. The failure of Access Bank Plc’s management to uphold these values reflects poorly on the institution and sends a chilling message about the state of corporate ethics in modern society.


The rush to fill Wigwe’s position also begs the question: What was so urgent that it could not wait a mere twenty-four or forty-eight hours? The decision to prioritize corporate continuity over acknowledging and honoring the loss of a respected leader speaks volumes about the prevailing mindset within the upper echelons of Access Bank Plc.


As we reflect on the life and legacy of Herbert Wigwe, let us not forget the importance of empathy, compassion, and humanity in our interactions, both personal and professional. Let his untimely passing serve as a reminder of the fragility of life and the need to cherish each moment we have with one another.

May the souls of Herbert Wigwe, his wife Doreen Chizoba, and their son Chizzy rest in the embrace of the divine, and may their memory inspire us to strive for a world where empathy and humanity prevail. Amen.

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