That Ini Akpabio is a successful business tycoon in the tourism and hospitality industry is no secret. But what people may not know is that one of his hobbies is cycling, something he still finds time for despite his busy schedule. EDITOR, LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, AMINA ALHASSAN AHMAN writes on what makes the business mogul tick.
Ini Akpabio is a soft spoken intellectual who started from very humble beginnings. He began his career initiative through his mother’s success in the restaurant business, since then, his dreams and aspirations towards owning and managing a hotel became a special focus in his life and as such had vowed to keep his family in that line of business for a long time to come. According to him, the turning point came when he had to go to England to run a masters degree in International Hospitality and tourism management.
That was when he felt that he could contribute to the growth of the Nigerian economy through tourism. But prior to that, he was interested in architecture and banking. Ini also had stated some other obvious facts why he is currently moving in this direction.
“As a young person, I watched my mother who ran a restaurant and that may have made me go into this chosen career I find myself in now. My mother who is still alive had started a business earlier within the hospitality sector. We grew up in restaurants, fast food set up and hotels which made us understand, to some extent what the hospitality sector can offer. It also exposed me to the educational aspect of the tourism sector.
Maybe because ours was virtually a family business, there was the desire to go beyond the first generation” he asserted.
Apart from that, Ini has a passion for entertainment. In fact, speaking on his interest in the industry, he disclosed his relationship with Nollywood just to fulfill his passion and heart’s desire towards encouraging tourism. He had stated that Nanet Hotels limited decided that it will have a more than passing relationship with the movie industry in Nigeria. He said that having particularly looked at the fact that emerging sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially those that have a lot to do with talent need to be supported, there came the need to establish a better relationship with Nollywood. In his own little way, he saw the need to identify with the Nollywood Industry. “If you look at the Nigerian entertainment scene, you will see a clear cut demarcation ranging from the movie industry, the music industry and the world of the comedians. All these areas need to be encouraged. As a result, we decided to start with the movie industry viz a viz Nollywood.
When the idea came, we formed a committee and decided to honour some very outstanding movie practitioners. Since then, we have discovered that there is so much to offer to the country even as an individual in government. One must not necessarily make all the money on earth before some help is rendered. I have been able to honour different Nollywood stars in my hotel since the initiative, at least to begin to encourage the art, because I have a very strong passion for the art as well”
Ini intends to take the recognition to a higher level next year as plans are already on towards inviting international movie stars like Julia Roberts, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson and a lot of the major stars of Hollywood and Bollywood to also showcase them along with Nigerian stars.
So much about work, what does this busy man do in his spare time?
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nanet Group of Hotels, despite his wealth, is still very conscious of his weight.
Ini does virtually all of the most difficult and dare devil sports. He says that he is into a lot of Sports which is always done collectively in his family. “We do a lot of sport together.
We play basket ball, badminton and long tennis. I used to be very good at soccer. Right now, I play soccer with my children, but are into what I call wheels. We are very keen on anything on wheels, so when my boy was about four years old, he used to ride from Maitama to Garki on his bicycle and when people see us they used to scream. We do a lot of cycling even in the house. I am desirous to start an Abuja Bicycling Club” Ini had opined.
The Tourism expert who confirmed that he will be travelling with his wife and daughter this summer to Dubai on a bike tour, also disclosed that the tour will touch six other states in United Arab Emirates. “We have been on a similar tour in England before, mostly for biking exhibition. We equally hire bikes outside the country just to ride. So that’s a passion that we have” Ini had stated.
The winner of the Argungu Motor race said that he hoped to pick up a less risky sport like Golf very soon. He also disclosed that he has plans to join the Abuja Polo club soon. “I love sports and I have the passion to lay my hands on so many things. This, as you can see manifests in all the sports that I do. I love to do the almost impossible things, and that is why I go into difficult sports most of the time”
He seems to be making plans for his retirement already as his first daughter is currently attending his former university in England, studying the same course that he studied.
This, according to him is to keep the business running for a long time, even after him.
Ini is obviously one of the few who control the hotel industry in Nigeria as he has branches scattered all over the country. He holds the position of the National President of Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN) and also the Vice President of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN). He is also recognised as one the most renowned business tycoons who is so passionate about his relationship with other people within and outside the Hotel Industry.
Advising the youth on the power of positive concept of self, Ini advised that whoever has a dream should passionately hold onto it and the result will show in no distant time, concluding that it doesn’t matter the number of failures, but the number of successes recorded.