(PHOTOS) Akpabio, Dangote, governors others bid Wigwe, wife, son tearful farewell

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It was the gathering of who is who in Nigeria on Saturday in Isiokpo, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, as the remains of former Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe, his wife Doreen Chizoba, and son, Chizzy, were     committed to mother earth.

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Their remains were brought in separately in Mercedez Benz hearses in a motorcade to the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Isiokpo at about 11 am. They were carried inside the church for a funeral service which lasted for almost three hours amidst speeches from Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and others.

The mood of the community from the popular Isiokpo junction to 10 communities, including Omoeke, Wigwe’s hometown that makes up Isiokpo, depicted that tragedy had befallen the people.

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Shortly after a funeral service, the remains of Wigwe, his wife, Doreen Chizoba and his late 29-year-old first son, Chizzy were buried in a private tomb inside the Wigwe University, which he had built in Isiokpo, Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.

The bodies of the trio were moved from the RCCG, Isiokpo, to the private mausoleum and committed to Mother earth at about 2:45 pm.

The final home call at the graveside witnessed mainly by family members and a few others reawaked a sea of tears as all who wore mournful looks broke down in tears, as their bodies were lowered into the graves.

As expected, a huge presence of security operatives, especially the tactical police unit and other special commands, were stationed at strategic places leading to the venue of the burial, even as the state Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, was present at the occasion.

Dignitaries present at the funeral service included Senate President Godswill Akpabio; Siminalayi Fubara, governor of Rivers; Alex Otti, governor of Abia; Dapo Abiodun, governor of Ogun, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos.

Others were Aliko Dangote, chairman of the Dangote group; Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra; James Ibori; former governor of Delta, Segun Agbaje, a former governorship candidate in Lagos; Rotimi Amaechi, former minister of transportation; Bukola Saraki, former senate president and Sanusi Lamido, former governor of Jigawa.

Speaking during the funeral service, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who spoke on behalf of the Federal Government and the National Assembly eulogised the qualities of the late Wigwe, even as he described the burial as ‘abnormal’ due to tragedy that claimed the trio.

Akpabio stated, “Let me thank you for the opportunity to lend the voice of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the bereaved family, to Rivers State, to the business community, the global community and to all Nigerians.

“It is not a normal occasion. This is a very abnormal occasion. We will continue to grieve after this. I want to extend the condolences of Mr President, Bola Tinubu, his governors, the National Assembly I’m privileged to be the chairman and all members of the legislature in Nigeria to the bereaved family, to Access Bank, particularly my brother, Aig Imokhede, the co-founder, the remaining members of the family.

“That is why it is not a normal occasion. Normally the wife would have been here. If the wife was not here, the first son would have been here. But as God pleases none of them is here. They are all here in front of us. May their souls rest in Perfect Peace.”

While noting that it has been almost a month of mourning, he described Wigwe as an iconic figure and a global citizen who impacted many lives within and outside Nigeria, adding that he had an uncommon human relationship.

He stated, “There is nothing that we can do than to continue to express our heartfelt condolences, our sadness over the demise of this family.

“Herbert was an iconic figure. He was the people’s person; I believe he was a friend and brother to all who came across him. Together with his brother, they raised Access Bank to a level of among the first five top banks in Nigeria. Considering their ages, you can see that their hard work paid off.”

Recalling the last time, he was with the late banker and philanthropist, Akpabio said, “The last time he called me was almost 11:30 pm, and he said I should rush down to meet him for a late dinner, and I think my brother Dangote was also there.

“We met there; he was full of life. Nobody would have expected this. As the man of God pointed out, ‘it is a journey all of us will one day make.’ My prayer is that God should enable us to be ready before we make this journey.”

Speaking earlier, Governor Fubara sent the commiserations of the government and people of the state to the bereaved family, even as he said the event underscored man’s helplessness in death and the need to live an impactful life.

Fubara stated, “I have this question always in my mind. What is life all about? Yesterday (Friday night) we sang a hymn that said, ‘Fading away from the sun in the morning’, and I concluded that life is not the one million years that we lived, but even if we spend an hour, let the hour be impactful. He has made a great contribution to humanity.

“Here lies our brother, his wife and his son. Everyone has come to celebrate them, it means even in the short period that he lived, he lived an impactful life.”

He also admonished politicians to realise the futility of their struggles and desperation for power and control, saying, Wigwe was not a politician through his ingenuity and hard work had an influence on many politicians and achieved wealth.

“Is it not enough to ask ourselves what we are struggling with? Why are we not making an impact in the lives of our people? Please, political class, go home with that question and begin answering it in our mind and reflecting it in what we do.”

More photos from the funeral service:

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