A family is often bound by many things. They also usually have their peculiarities. For the family of Ini Akpabio, it is biking. Their love for wheels ranks high in the family’s interests as reported by Kazeem Popoola.
The Akpabios are not just an ordinary Nigerian family. They obviously share all the things most families do but what is more is their exceptional love for the wheels: bicycles and auto-bikes. The love for the wheels permeates the family from the youngest to the eldest irrespective of sex. Mr Ini Akpabio, apart from being the head of the family of five, is a business tycoon and a major stakeholder in the country’s tourism and hospitality industry.
A tall man who watches his weight despite his wealth, he is a power bike freak. Akpabio who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Nanet Group of Hotels revealed that he is an ardent lover of sports; a trait which runs in his family. His family, he said, is in love with sports hence their being physically fit.
“We do a lot of sports together. We play basket ball, badminton and lawn tennis. I used to be very good in soccer. Right now, I play soccer with my children.
We are into what I call wheels. “We are very keen on anything on wheels. When my boy was about four years old, I used to ride with him from Maitama to Garki on my bicycle and when people saw us they would be screaming. We do a lot of bicycling even in the house. I am desirous to start an Abuja Bicycling Club”
The hotelier who has travelled with his wife and daughter to Dubai and other six places for biking stressing that he’s making other plans for a tour that would touch other six states in the United Arab Emirate.
“We have gone for similar tours in England before mostly for biking exhibition. We equally hire bikes outside the country just to ride. It is a passion that we have,” Akpabio stated.
The winner of the Argungun Motor racing stated that his family loves anything on wheels and hoped to pick up a less risky sport like golf very soon adding that he would be joining the Abuja Polo club soon.
“I am into sports because I have the passion to lay my hands on many things. This 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 revealed.
Aside been famous with bikes, Akpabio is obviously one of the few who control the hotel industry in country as he has Nanet Hotel located all over the nation. Akpabio who is the National President of Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN) is also the Vice President of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and he is passionate about his relationship with other people within and outside the hotel industry.
Soft spoken Akpabio started from a humble beginning. His dream of becoming an hotelier sprouted from his mother. She was a success in the restaurant business. 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.
Prior to this, he had been interested in architecture and banking.
“As a young person, one of the factors that might have made me go into this chosen career was the fact that my mother who is still alive had earlier on started business within the hospitality sector.
“We grew up within restaurants, fast food set up and hotels which made us to understand to some extent what the hospitality sector could 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 said. Akpabio also has relationship with the country’s film industry called Nollywood.
He seems to be making plans for his retirement already as his first daughter is currently in his former university and department in England studying the same course. This, according to him is to keep the business running for a long time even after him.