Leaders of the private and the public sector praise the memoir, urging others to read it.
Leaving the Tarmac leaves no one in doubt that navigating the waters of the banking sector in Nigeria is a daunting task not for the faint-hearted. Aig is a leader with determination and integrity, gives meaning to grit and authenticity, and takes us on a journey that closes the gap between harsh reality and one’s aspiration, giving young Nigerians, especially women in the finance sector, the inspiration to dream, weather the storm and achieve greatness.
This excellent and highly readable book tells the story of the rise and rise of one of Nigeria’s, indeed Africa’s, premier Banks. Aig-Imoukhuede, founding CEO, top Nigerian Banker, and socially conscious entrepreneur gives us a frontline account of what it means to seize opportunities and weather risks in Africa’s Banking industry. I recommend the book to all who want to get an inside view of what it takes to create and grow a successful business in Nigeria’s challenging but opportunity laden business environment.
Written with brutal honesty, lucidity and humility. The principles in this book are sound, practical and pragmatic, drawn out of the deep wells of personal experience, and inked with sincerity, honest rendition and transparency on what worked and did not work, to help others .One of the best business books I have ever read. Easy to read. Transformational. Memorable. Golden
The 20’s have proven to be unprecedented. Budding entrepreneurs who will emerge stronger must possess useful information to navigate these uncertain times, and more than a book, ‘Leaving the Tarmac’ is a compass that presents an account of business triumph, as it takes readers on a transformational journey of sheer resilience, resolve and rewards. This is keenly so, not only as the title suggests, but at every point in this journey, readers can identify with the challenges, hopes, aspirations, failures, and successes associated with the expedition, which the writer commits to revealing via his honest tell-it-all approach to a complex story.
In 2005 I joined First Bank plc as Executive Director, Risk & Management Control. One of the duties on my schedule was the presentation on a regular basis to both the executive committee and the full Board of an analysis of the bank’s competitive landscape. This usually took the form of comparing the bank’s performance with that of at least two banks that were considered real competitive threats. Invariably, these were drawn from among the “big boys” of the industry-UBA, Union, Zenith and GTB.
I loved reading this book. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede was literally left on the tarmac as a child when others rushed to board a plane while he waited to be called. Since that moment, he has never waited to be called. This is his story of how he and colleagues bought a poorly performing bank in Nigeria and transformed it. It is not a “get rich quick” story. It is a powerful tale of leadership and institution-building amidst weak regulatory institutions and a changing cast of politicians, Central Bank Governors, and competitors.
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede’s Leaving the Tarmac is a personal and authentic window into the world of banking, finance, and business in Nigeria. The title, based on a childhood experience when Aig was pushed aside by adults and failed to board a plane, sets the tone for the book. The adult Aig was determined not only to be left behind, but also to build, to pilot, and to own the aircraft—and to set its course. With his “co-pilot,” Herbert Wigwe, Aig bought what the former President of Nigeria described as an “insignificant” bank and transformed into one of national and regional importance in a short decade.
Early in this account of how he built one of Nigeria’s largest banks from the ruins of a tiny upstart, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede writes about a formative incident in his life, when he was just 10 years old. His parents had packed him off from Lagos to an elite school in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, and he would often travel back and forth on his own on the notorious national carrier, Nigeria Airways. As I know from first-hand experience of this justifiably defunct airline, having a confirmed ticket, or even a boarding pass, did not guarantee you a seat on typically overbooked flights. The 10-year-old stood no chance.
“LEAVING THE TARMAC” is not really a story about buying a bank in Africa. It is about much more than that. You can buy a business and retain it largely in its original form or you can buy a business because you have an audacious transformation agenda which should make the business largely unrecognisable from its original form in record time. Perhaps it was modesty that stopped Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede from opting for the latter or he wanted you to read the book before coming to that conclusion or realisation on your own. Without a doubt, the case of his tenure at Access Bank was a story of seeking to achieve an audacious transformation in record time.
“What are they smoking?”, the two senior bankers chatting close by asked, after the news broke in 2002 that some young thirty-something year olds had taken over a relatively unknown bank called Access Bank. Times were tough, banks were folding up almost by the quarter, and the aftermath of the global financial crisis was still taking its toll on the largest countries and financial institutions globally. So, what on earth, where these two new kids on the block ‘smoking’ that they thought they could audaciously
acquire a bank and turn it around. I had been away from the African continent for a year at The London School of Economics so the Access take-over story seemed like hot news to me, and it was interesting to watch this emerging financial thriller unfold.