Shareholders Remember Wigwe, Others At Access Holdings Annual General Meeting

Shareholders Remember Wigwe, Others At Access Holdings Annual General Meeting

1 month ago
2 mins read

Out of deference and honour to their departed chairman, Mr. Bababode Odunkoya and Group Chief Executive, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, shareholders of Access Holdings Plc, declined to scrutinize and comment on the 2023 Annual Report and Account of the company laid before them at the company’s second AGM on Friday, April 19. Instead, they proceeded to approve all the resolutions proposed by the new chairman, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, including raising N365 billion by Rights Issue and amending its memorandum and articles. “Mr. Chairman, I will say that this is a condolence meeting. In honour of our departed Group Chief Executive, Dr. Herbert Wigwe and his wife, Chizoba and son, Chizzy, and in remembrance of our late former chairman, Mr. Osunkoya, we shall not comment on this account,’’ said Chief Sunny Nwosu, a revered shareholder in many Nigerian companies. The rest of the shareholders chorused ‘’yes’’.

Osunkoya died of an illness in Lagos on November 21, 2023, while Wigwe, wife and son died in that horrible helicopter crash in California in the night of Friday, February 9, 2024 (which was early Saturday morning, February 10, Nigerian time). Dr. Wigwe’s death shook the nation and the international community, eliciting eulogies and tributes from world leaders like President Emmanuel Macron, President Bola Tinubu, President Paul Kagame, President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Bill Clinton and President Olusegun Obasanjo. This writer was equally devastated.

READ ALSO: Wigwe: Aig-Imoukhuede Returns To Access Holdings As Non-Executive Chairman

AGMs are typically well-choreographed and rehearsed events, but they, nonetheless, provide investors with an opportunity to review the report and accounts of their company in the preceding year, examine the performance of their companies and the directors, take the Board to task and ask probing questions on the profitability and returns of the company. In some cases, they could be embarrassing to the directors, especially if the performance is below expectation. But this particular one was clearly unscripted and sombre, and the shareholders were pleased with a whopping 334% jump in PBT from N67.7 billion to N729 billion. The performance was driven by improved gross earnings from N1.38 trillion to N2.59 trillion, an 86.7% jump. By skipping to scrutinize the accounts, however, the shareholders only demonstrated an uncommon sense of moment. Said Mr. Boniface Okezie: “The man who prepared this report and accounts is no longer here with us. He is not here to respond to our comments and questions. We all like the final dividend of N1.8 per share. But Dr. Wigwe had paid the supreme sacrifice to bring this company to this level. Some of us did not attend his funeral, and so we wish to honour him today’’. A pall of sobriety hung in the air in the cavernous hall at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victory Island, Lagos. If Chairman Aig-Imoukhuede had had an idea of what the shareholders were planning, he did not betray it.

To further demonstrate their love and regard for the late Wigwe, the shareholders also proposed to approve all the six special/business resolutions presented by the directors in a single resolution. But Aig-Imoukhuede, a veteran boardroom player, advised against a single resolution to avoid “a procedural hiccup in the future.’’ He’s right. I know of some companies that have run into problems with the law and regulators for passing different resolutions in a single vote. The shareholders then formally elected Aig-Imoukhuede as a non-executive director and reelected Pastor Olusegun Ogbonewo and Mrs. Ojinika Olaghere also as non-executive directors. In addition, they overwhelmingly approved the company’s plan to shore up its capital by N365 billion, in addition to establishing a capital raising program of $1.5 billion program.  Access Corporation thus becomes the first, of all the 31 banks in the country, to take formal and serious steps to meet the CBN’s new minimum capital base.

At the end of the meeting, the shareholders sang “for he was a jolly good fellow” in honor of Dr. Wigwe, signifying, as one of them said, Wigwe’s formal disengagement from the institution.

Other directors present at the AGM were Bolaji Agbede, the acting Group Chief Executive, Access Holdings, and Roosevelt Ogbonna, who is also the Chief executive of Access Bank.


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