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Gold fish has no hiding place

It was on X (formerly Twitter) that I first heard of the unfortunate chopper accident that claimed the lives of six people, including Herbert Wigwe,…

It was on X (formerly Twitter) that I first heard of the unfortunate chopper accident that claimed the lives of six people, including Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO of Access Bank; his wife, Chizoba;  his son, Chizi; and Otunba Abimbola Ogunbanjo, a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group). I immediately called a mutual friend who I knew was close to Mr Wigwe. My friend was shattered as I expected he would be. He kept reiterating what a wonderful person Wigwe was and how instrumental Wigwe was to his growth. Every tribute I have read, both from those who knew Wigwe personally and those who knew him professionally, has echoed the same sentiments – he was a man who brought value to his relationships, who aimed to leave his society better than he found it and who believed he could effect change. No one has come forward to challenge any of the wonderful tributes being paid to him.

As someone noted on social media, there’s been none of the “Yes, he was controversial, but if you knew him well you’d know he wasn’t all bad,” or the, “Don’t speak ill of the dead,” that’s dogged some high profile deaths recently.

True, true, a gold fish has no hiding place. No one is going to live forever, and the legacy one leaves is crucial. This was a man who understood that, and that is why his record speaks so eloquently and so positively for him.

I struggled to recollect in recent times another moment of collective national bereavement around the death of a single individual since Prof Dora Akunyili’s death in 2008. And Wigwe wasn’t even a public office holder.

Yet, so many of our public office holders have used adjectives like “visionary” and “brilliant mind” to describe him while mourning the monumental loss that his death and Ogubanjo’s are to the country. The irony is that some of these politicians – I am not naming any names – must be aware that at their passing that none of such will apply (truthfully) to them. They are able to recognise greatness, so what is stopping them from emulating it? Maybe this is a chance for them to consider the type of legacy they want to leave.

Ndi Igbo say that when one wakes up in the morning, it is morning yet for them. My prayer for them is that they do not let it go to waste.

One of Wigwe’s biggest dreams apparently was the Wigwe University he was setting up. I have watched and re-watched clips of interviews with him about what he wanted to achieve with the school, the proposed “Harvard of Africa”. There have been questions about the future of the projects he initiated, but which will now not live to see fruition, including the university. I hope that all of Wigwe’s friends – the presidents, the governors, the billionaires, the CEO’s, the entrepreneurs – all who have testified to his greatness, largeness of heart, visionary leadership, extensive dreams for Nigeria – will not let his vision die with him. That would be a monumental disgrace.

He blueprinted some of these projects, so I expect that as good friends who are able to, they will pick them up and execute them. His death shouldn’t spell a demise to all the gifts he wanted to bestow on Naija. The best way to eulogise him isn’t just in words, but in deeds as well.

My condolences to the Wigwes, the Ogunbanjos, their friends and all who mourn with them.

Also, my condolences extend to the families of the two pilots who died alongside them. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.


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