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Top Nigerian bank executive, wife, son confirmed dead in US helicopter crash

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The Chief Operating Officer of pan-African financial group, Access Corporation, owners of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, has been confirmed dead alongside his wife, son and the former Group Chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange and the Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX),
Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in a helicopter crash in the United States.

According to Michael Graham, an executive of the US National Transportation Safety Board, the chartered Airbus EC130 helicopter was flying from Palm Springs, California to Boulder City, Nevada, when it crashed in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border late Friday night.

The aircraft, which was operated by California-based charter company, Orbic Air, took off around 8:45 p.m. PT and crashed just after 10 p.m. near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California, Graham said.

He added that the helicopter caught fire upon impact, citing witness reports. Witnesses also reported rain and a wintry mix when the crash happened, he said.

The NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash and was on the scene in Halloran Springs, California, Saturday night collecting evidence, Graham said at a news conference.

The New United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also confirmed the crash in a statement late Saturday.

In the statement, the FAA confirmed that all onboard are dead as search revealed that no survivors had been found as of Saturday.

“We were made aware of a downed aircraft at approximately 10:12 p.m., on February 10, 2024. The scene of the crash was determined to be east of the 15-Freeway, near Halloran Springs Road,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department also said in a statement.

Here are 10 things to know about the late Herbert Wigwe:

1. Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe who died at the age of 58 in a helicopter crash in the United States, was born on August 22, 1966. He hailed from Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.

2. He had a degree in Accountancy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu.

3. He also had a Masters degree in Banking and Finance from the University College of North Wales, and an MSc in Financial Economics from the University of London.

4. Wigwe started his career at Coopers & Lybrand, Lagos as a management consultant, later qualifying as a chartered accountant.

5 . After a stint at Capital Bank, he joined Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), where he spent over a decade working in corporate and institutional banking, rising to become the executive director in charge of institutional banking.

6. While with GTB, Wigwe worked with Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede to buy Access Bank, which used to hold the 65th position amongst the list of 89 banks in the country.

7. Wigwe also served as the Chairman of Access Bank Ghana Limited, Access Investment & Securities Limited, Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) and the current Chairman of Access Bank (UK) Limited until his demise.

8. He later succeeded Aig-Imoukhuede as the MD of Access Bank and worked on a vision of transforming the bank into a global bank, a feat he achieved in his lifetime. He not only took the bank beyond the African continent, he expanded it to become a financial conglomerate.

9. In October 2022, a Nigerian national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) was conferred on him by President Muhammadu Buhari.

10. Herbert Wigwe founded the wave-making Wigwe University located at Isiokpo, Rivers State. The university is expected to kick off in September 2024. In a recent interview, Wigwe had said the University valued at over $500 million will offer undergraduate courses in management, science and engineering, information technology, and creative arts.

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Hardship: Nigerian govt to resume direct cash transfers to 12m citizens

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Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, has revealed that the federal government will resume direct transfer of cash to 12 million indigent citizens to cushion the hardship they are currently going through.

The minister, who made the announcement in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria on Wednesday during a retreat organised by the ministry, said the direct cash transfer would be for the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians.

Edun said, presently, about three million Nigerians were recipients of the programmes but due to the escalating cost of living, the “government anticipates that an additional 12 million households could qualify for these direct payments.”

“The presidential panel on the social investment programmes have prepared to go to Mr. President with an internal recommendation to restart the direct payments to the poorest and the most vulnerable. Everything is being done to ease the pain,” Edun said.

“We know that there’s been about three million beneficiaries now, but given the way the rates have gone, there are probably another 12 million people, households that can benefit from that payment.”

He further noted that the expansion of the direct cash transfer is projected to reach a wider population who are currently struggling with the economic situation and to put more money directly in the hands of those who need it most, allowing them to prioritise their needs and alleviate poverty.

“The decision to inform the President of the Panel’s decision before the final report is completed is to keep the President abreast of developments,” he said.

“The only thing delaying that is not waiting for the end of the report. It is something that the intervention is meant to happen immediately.

“We have experts in technology, the commitment was to make sure that we use technology to ensure that we have a seamless payment, a seamless movement between the registered and the direct beneficiaries, without any manual processes in between. So it’s taking time to automate that process immediately that direct payment will resume.

“The goal is to put food, to put feed into the mill, into the market, in an attempt to drive down the cost of food and make food available. Right now, that is the key priority in terms of the fiscal side, in terms of the government side.

“History has shown, evidence has shown that when you pay someone directly, you put money in their hand. It reduces poverty because they decide where the shoe is pinching most.

“So it is a direct benefit, it has a direct effect on poverty. It alleviates, and there’s a commitment to immediately start that process. So that is, as far as these interventions are concerned and the landscape which we as a team are facing, we have a commitment to help to bring down inflation.

“Growing the economy, creating jobs and lifting millions and millions of Nigerians out of poverty, that’s the ultimate goal of President Bola Tinubu and his economic policies.”

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Zambian govt begs citizens in diaspora to help attract foriegn investment

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The Zambian government has called on its citizens in the diaspora to help in attracting foreign direct investment to the country in the face of the economic challenges the nation is going through.

Chief Government spokesperson, Cornelius Mweetwa, who made the appeal in Addis Ababa during a dinner hosted by Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Rose Sakala, for the Zambian delegation that participated in the 37th African Union (AU) Ordinary Summit for Heads of State and Government, urged the diaspora citizens to portray Zambia’s image positively to the outside world so as to encourage foreign investors to invest in the country.

In a statement issued in Lusaka by the First Secretary for Press and Tourism at the Zambian mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, inutu Mwanza, Mweetwa who is also Zambia’s Minister for Information and Media, said Zambians living abroad are the country’s flag carriers who should ensure that the good image of the country was portrayed at all times.

“It is important for those working abroad to look out for available opportunities and best practices to make Zambia better,” Mweetwa said.

Also speaking, Minister of Education, Douglas Syakailma, who also attended the event, called for hard work among Zambians.

“The AU theme for the year 2024 on Education, provides an opportunity for the government to re-look at aspects of education that require more attention to improve the education system,” he said.

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