Financial analysts debunk Bode George’s claims against Elumelu, Wigwe



Respected financial analysts have debunked claims that foremost banker-cum-entrepreneur, Chief Tony Elumelu, and his colleague, the late Herbert Wigwe, made their fortunes from Foreign Exchange(FX) manipulations.


A Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) chieftain and former military governor, Chief Bode George, had in a viral video disparaged the bank chiefs, accusing them of having made their stupendous wealth through manipulative activities in the foreign exchange market.


He particularly cast aspersions on Wigwe, the late Access Holding Chief Executive Officer, wondering how he was able to establish a world-class university when he owned no factory and was not into manufacturing.


Wigwe, his wife, Chizoba; son, Chizi, and former Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, all died in an helicopter crash in the United States on Friday, February 9, 2024.


But the financial analysts stoutly defended the bank chiefs, punching large holes into the PDP chieftain’s argument.


Ugodre of Nairametrics, said background checks he ran on the issue showed that claims against Elumelu were not true.


He said contrary to Chief Bode George’s claims, Elumelu, whom he described as “one of the reputable business leaders to have come from the continent of Africa,” made his fortune through his invest spread across sectors of the economy.


He said: “Aside from currently chairing the board of the United Bank of AFRICA(UBA)– the financial institution he previously led as Group Managing Director after it merged with the Standard Trust Bank– the extraordinary businessman notably owns huge interest in Heirs Holdings, Transnational Corporation(Transcorp Group) and more.


“Available information shows he midwifed UBA from a single-country banking group to a Pan-African bank with subsidiaries in 20 African countries, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.


“Elumelu, the African philanthropist, who is unrelenting in his efforts to make the continent of Africa a better place, in 2015, committed a whopping sum of $100 million to uplift 10,000 entrepreneurs over the next 10 years through his philanthropic initiative, Tony Elumelu Foundation.”


Femi Awoyemi of Proshare described as “befuddling” and “worn out” Chief George’s argument that the late Wigwe could not have legitimately established a world-class university because he was not into manufacturing.


“How manufacturing equates to a capacity to set up a university is not clear,” he noted.


Arguing that the late Wigwe made his fortune through legitimate earnings, Awoyemi disclosed that Access Corporation has an asset size of N20.85 trillion as of H1 2023, making it the largest bank in Nigeria and second largest in West Africa.


“The bank had 35.5bn shares outstanding, with Wigwe being the largest individual shareholder with with 4.1% outstanding, translating to 1.6 bn shares.”


He added: “According to the banking group’s 2022 audited annual financial statements, the bank declared a total dividend of N1 per share( interim N0.30 and N0.70), meaning that Wigwe would have been entitled to roughly N1.6bn before tax(Wigwe’s shares as of 2023 rise to 9.09% or 3.2 bn units).”