The Next Bus Stop

Victor Asemota
6 min readFeb 17, 2024


Memories of Herbert Wigwe

We lost our brother Herbert Wigwe, his wife, and his son in a helicopter crash in California last weekend. The fatal accident turned our weekend of celebration in Cape Coast, Ghana, to mourning in an instant. I had gone to sleep in preparation for an all-night party and was woken up by the sad news.

I met Chizoba, Herbert’s wife, briefly after they got married, and I never met his kids, but Herbert was more like my brother. The last time we met physically was at my cousin’s wedding in Lagos, and he was wondering why I had abandoned home. It is still hard for most people at home to accept after 15 years that I have a new home in Ghana.

I spent more of my formative years with my Uncle Henry than with my parents, and he was one of Herbert’s earliest mentors and confidants. Herbert was older than me and did his national service shortly before I came to Lagos for mine. I did my national service at Mayo Associates/PTC, a pioneering training institution for accountants and bankers founded by my uncle.

Herbert was a student there preparing for his ICAN exams, and that was probably where we first met, but I am not so sure. He also taught there briefly after he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. The first encounter I remember vividly was when I had to meet my uncle at IMB (International Merchant Bank), where he worked. Herbert came to meet him there, and we all went to his home, then nearby on Victoria Island.

My uncle didn’t tell his wife we were all coming for dinner; she was heavily pregnant then. We all shared her delicious dinner, initially meant for her husband, but we were still starving. My uncle told us not to worry that this meal would be enough to carry us to “the next bus stop.”

We got into his car with Herbert driving, and he kept repeatedly playing the Mother Africa song by Jambos Express because he loved it so much. We laughed at him as he sang along. It was a fun evening, and they dropped me off at another uncle’s house in Ikeja later that night. That was how my friendship with Herbert started. We went to the next bus stop together.

It was more than a friendship because we shared an uncle and alternate father figure. Uncle Henry played an outsize influence in our lives. Herbert got a job with a new bank called Kapital Bank, which he hated. The bank eventually failed. He refers to it in one of his Instagram posts, which is why he feared failure or a bank run. He had seen what leads to it and how it happens.

I remember discussing with him how I wanted to use a Commonwealth scholarship to do a UK postgraduate and discussed it with an aunt working at the British Council. I was 19 then, and she said I was too young to get it. Herbert got the scholarship and went to the UK for his postgraduate studies. He returned to this bank called GTBank, where he loved working. After joining as a Deputy Manager, he was our first account officer there.

I can’t forget when Herbert bought his first brand-new car, a red Golf GTI, and we rode in it together. I looked up to him as a big brother, and he was very kind to me even when we had disagreements. As bankers, Herbert and Aigboje could make you uncomfortable and drive hard bargains. Still, you will understand too that they are running a very competitive business where they also have to show leadership and example. Herbert always wanted to run a bank. It didn’t happen by chance. He was very driven in a way most people were not.

I recall many years ago when Herbert came to my uncle’s office with our friend Kayode Ayeni to seek assistance for a deal where they needed 5 million Naira for a capital markets transaction. My uncle told them he could direct them to where they could raise the money but would not give it to them personally. The transaction was also too small for his bank.

They still found a way to do the transaction, and I saw that he never wanted to be in that position again where he would be going around trying to raise money for a relatively small deal. It became playing for high stakes or nothing, and he always said it. We recently had a $3m transaction that my cousin took to Herbert, and he said it was too small and he needed bigger things. It reminded me of when he approached my uncle many years before. Life can come around full circle.

When I heard of their recent move within the pensions space, I finally understood what he meant regarding size. His dreams were always bigger than those of others. He was always playing for higher stakes. I watched a video of Aigboje at Oxford this morning talking about their plans for revolutionizing African Asset Management, and I became sad all over again.

I can’t imagine how Aigboje must feel after losing his friend, confidant, and business partner for decades. The last time I felt the way I felt last weekend was after my father died. There was a hole inside me that I couldn’t explain, and once again. My cousin Nowa says he is still in shock. I watched the video he sent to me of Herbert’s new office, where he went to meet him last year.

Herbert did well for his friends, who also did their best to help him. I can’t forget a trip with Jite Okoloko by road to Benin, and he let me know he was assisting Herbert and Aig in raising money for equity after their Access Bank acquisition. He took it personally like Herbert would have done for him.

Anything I wanted from Access Bank, he would tell Roosevelt to help me get it done. I also ensured I was available to help his bank in any capacity. That is how we did things. It was why he was also helpful to Flutterwave. It was his nature.

My uncle’s son worked directly with him at Access Bank for some years before he decided to go into private equity. He took him under his wings like his father had done for him. He never forgot those who helped him along the way.

When I last saw Herbert at my cousin Amena’s wedding in Lagos. I could see my uncle visibly light up when he arrived, and they sat together. Herbert was like his eldest child, and he loved him dearly. My family members are heartbroken. I also can’t imagine how the rest of the Wigwe family would feel now. This accident was a great tragedy.

The book I am currently reading is Jay-Z’s Decoded. So many lines within it remind me of the similarities between Mr. Carter and Mr. Wigwe.

“I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of not trying” — Jay-Z.

Herbert was fearless, too. He also tried his best. He didn’t physically reach his last destination because of the crash, but he had since arrived at the next bus stop. We will miss him greatly.



Victor Asemota

I eat Nigerian Jollof and I write things. That is what I do. Chief Fanatic @ Manchester United FC.