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HomeExecutive BriefHerbert Wigwe, the Iluyomade, RCCG, and the rest of us

Herbert Wigwe, the Iluyomade, RCCG, and the rest of us

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By Oludare Mayowa

The sudden death of the GCEO of Access Corporation, Herbert Wigwe, in a ghastly helicopter crash in the US early this month has generated a lot of reactions, both in sympathy and in equal trolling, depending on which side of the divide people belong to.

For many, Wigwe’s death, along with that of his wife and his first son, was tragic enough and therefore attracted huge grief and condolence to his parents, his remaining children, and the institutions he had managed over the years.

There are those who were trying to remind Nigerians of what they perceived as irregularities in the acquisition of Access Bank and later the defunct Intercontinental Bank by Wigwe and his partner, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

Let me be upfront here. I knew Wigwe on close contact in the course of my duty as a financial journalist, having been to his house once and interacted with him on close range on many occasions on an official level.

I cannot claim to have known him in the deeper sense of it, but from my position as a long-standing financial journalist, I regarded him as one of the finest in the industry, with dedication, resilience, and daring in his approach to managing the financial institutions he superintended.

Regardless of perception by some people, he and his team have made huge contributions to the nation’s economy in terms of job creation, expansion of financial space, innovation, and investment in social enterprise.

He and his team also have their share of blame for how the nation’s financial industry conspired with politicians and public officials to drain the economy and starch huge looted funds in foreign banks.

But this is not the high point of his short and memorable life; rather, I would like to remember him for the lives he touched and his contributions to the industry he passionately loved while on this side of the great divide.

The last time I saw him before his sudden death was at the night of tribute to my late friend Abdul Imoyo, where Access Corporation committed huge resources to honour my friend, who died after a brief illness on the job.

Many of us, Imoyo friends, truly appreciate the role played by Wigwe in ensuring a befitting burial for Abdul Kolawole Imoyo-AKI, who until his death was the media relations manager at Access Corporation.

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Wigwe, at the event, spoke about the brevity of life and the need for us all to count our days. The day I learned about his death, his words at the event continued to resonate in my mind. May the Lord console his family.

However, the theme of this write-up is in relation to the events that have taken place since the demise of Wigwe—the attempt by some people to bring back narratives about how he and his partner acquired Access and Intercontinental Bank.

He has been painted as a valiant who snatched Access Bank and Intercontinental Bank from the original owners through the backdoor, without consideration for the principles that apply to business enterprises.

He was regarded as a shrewd businessman without morality or sympathy for those who had laboured to bring to life and grow the two institutions before he and his partner moved in to undercut the previous shareholders.

People who canvassed this position are either ignorant or choose to ignore the basic principles that guide capitalism in both our realm and other cultures.

Morality and sympathy have no place in the corporate world; what is in practice is adhering to best practices and fairness, and I would want to believe that those elements were present in the acquisitions of those two institutions by Wigwe and Aig-Imoukhuede.

Perhaps if those who established those institutions themselves had played the game right and applied diligence and best practices in the management of the banks, they would not have been opened to hostile takeover.

As a journalist, I could recall that the two banks were on the verge of distress, and the shareholders were unable to recapitalize them to prevent systemic harm to the entire financial industry and the economy.

In my opinion, what the Wigwe and Aig-Imoukhuede did was take advantage of the bad situation of the two institutions to acquire them, using the same methodology other capitalists employed to climb the ladder in the industry; in business, emotions are not part of the consideration for striking deals.

Now going back to the case of the Iluyomade, the Pastor of RCCG City of David, where Wigwe worship and played a significant role while on this side of life.

The trolling about the Idowu and Sijuade Iluyomade, both pastors of the City of David, was what many attributed to their lack of empathy for the families of the bereaved few weeks after the death of Wigwe.

Sijuade Iluyomade hosted a big funfare party to celebrate her 60th birthday just a week after the tragic death of Wigwe, while many people who are trolling them have condemned them for going ahead with the party despite their relationship with Wigwe.

The self-appointed critics of the action of the Iluyomade, who felt that despite the role played by Wigwe in ensuring the completion of the new tower of the City of David and his sacrifice for the church and the couple’s ministry, they still went ahead, like someone put it, to ‘dance on Wigwe’s grave,

Unfortunately, none has given the couple the opportunity to explain their own side of the story; many fake news stories have since been created to consolidate their condemnation of the Iluyomade over their action.

My challenge with those critics is that while we have seen many so-called celebrities throwing parties to mark some landmark occurrence in their lives without people subjecting them to criticism, anything that concerns pastors or the church has always been blowing out of proportion.

It’s like some of those people were usually waiting for such an occasion to denigrate the church and pastors in particular.

Without expressing either my support or otherwise to the Iluyomade, I would say that sometimes we are not in a position to know or understand the real issues that drive some actions and why some people behave the way they do.

People ought to exercise patience and take time before jumping to conclusions based on a mere perception of life or the reading of an event as they see or perceive it.

People are hasty to judge others without looking at all the parameters that would have been involved in their choice of action.

The Iluyomade may have ‘breached social norms’ with their ostentatious revelry, but people must also give allowance for human error without throwing out the bath water with the baby.

It’s not all men that mourn the same way, and there are many ways to mourn the loss of loved ones, and we should allow people to make their own choice without putting them in the bad light and pigeonhole them to our own standard.

Whatever was wrong with the City of David structure is the same thing that is wrong with everything in our nation, and issues should not be treated in isolation.

Many of those who are trolling the Iluyomade, Wigwe, and RCCG equally have their share of blame for the way our society has turned out to be.

When it is closer home, they praise it, but once they are not particularly involved, they choose to condemn it.

We can see the same evidence from the manner in which some people are sympathetic towards the ruling All Progress Congress (APC) in its handling of the nation’s economy while blaming the past for the way things turn out.

These are the same people who praise the previous administration of Mohammadu Buhari in high heaven for being the Messiah of our time.

We should allow the dead to bury their dead because the dead are dead and nothing can be done about that.

The scripture says it’s appointed to man to die once and thereafter judgement; regardless of the manner of death, Wigwe is dead, and there is nothing anyone can do to bring him back. What we need to do is to rally round his family, friends and other related institutions to sustain his legacy and ensure support for his aged parents and surviving children.

Would pausing the celebration of Sijuade’s 60th birthday have assuaged those trolling her and her husband? My guess is no; even if they had waited till Wigwe was buried, that would not have changed anything or their position.

People should allow the family of the dead to mourn their dead without subjecting them to some agony through social media trolling and creating the impression that they love ‘ojo more than Ojo’s mother.’

(Contact; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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