Chief Akin Disu is known widely as the chairman of Eagle Paints Group, the manufacturers of the popular brand of paint known as Eagle. But while he is also reputed for his philantropic gestures, not many know him as a legal icon. The truth, however, is that he studied Law before he veered into business to establish himself as a frontliner in paint manufacturing business.
Going down memory lane, he recalled that he had been motivated to study Law after a visit that First Republic politician, Bode Thomas, paid to his school in a beautiful Pontiac car, while he (Disu) was a student at CMS Grammar School, Lagos, and, second, because he didn’t want his peers in business to think he was an illiterate man.
He said: “The late Bode Thomas came to our school with a beautiful car and we were all carried away by his flamboyance. From that day, many of us vowed that we would study and become lawyers like Bode Thomas.
The impact the late politician made on his life has motivated his concern for the youth who he teaches at every available opportunity to look out for role models through whom they can rise to enviable positions in the society.
His is a clear departure from the prevailing situation where many successful men don’t want to let out the secrets of their success.
He said: “Life is what you make of it. You must be focused in all you do. You must have role models that you look up to. You do not need to see them day by day. All you need to do is find their stories and emulate their templates.
“I also believe today’s youths must learn to persevere like the Latin says, labo ouwa vinaiti, which means we must persevere till the end, for perseverance overcomes everything.
“I also want youths of today to be steadfast and take life easy. It is the urge to make if fast and in a hurry that has led many youths of today to join the .com millionaire club, which is also called yahoo.yahoo.
“Whoever cheats somebody of his or her hard-earned money must be punished by God. And why defraud fellow men?” he wondered.
Disu himself is a life coach to many young entrepreneurs and a mentor to numerous others.
To him, only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful,” he said.
Being a patriot himself, Disu is an untiring preacher of patriotism. He wastes no time in telling any Nigerian who cares to listen to be proud of their country, saying there is no country in the world without its own challenges, “but they manage their own challenges well while most Nigerians are sellouts.”
He frowns seriously on sabotage, asking Nigerians to stop talking or portraying their country in negative light to the outside world. “Nigeria, despite all odds, is blessed, good and can be better with collective efforts of each and all,” he said.
He does not involve himself in politics as he says he is too busy looking for daily bread. He also wishes that every Nigerian, particularly the political class, would be concerned with how they can make Nigeria better while working for their daily bread, rather than turn themselves into destructive critics.
Negative comments about our leaders, he said, tell on our image in the comity of nations. He believes that we affect the image of our country by the way we talk about its leadership, hence he cautions against character assassination.
The secret of our progress as a nation, he said, inheres in discipline.
His liberal nature is demonstrated by the fact that although he was born a Muslim, almost all his kids are Christians, and Chief Ernest Shonekan, the man he regards as his best friend, is a Christian. In fact, on the wall at the entrance of his house is hung a big eagle with a Bible accompanied with a Biblical passage taken from Isaiah 40:31: “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
To him, we all serve one God and we must not discriminate against one another. He believes in African moral ethics and not religious fanaticism.
A visit to the Eagle Paints factory on Lagos Mainland shows Disu to be a diligent entrepreneur who holds dear the principle of perseverance as key to success in business. Little wonder Eagle Paint has won the SON quality award for three years running.
Remarkably, in spite of his tight schedule, Disu does not joke with family matters. He is an all round success who believes in the home front/family. In fact, he gives top priority to looking after his family just as he does rendering service to God.
All work and no play, they say, makes Jack a dull boy. Hence High Chief Akin Disu finds time to ease off stress by belonging to some notable clubs like Metropolitan, Boat and Yoruba Tennis clubs. He says he likes travelling the world and he is a lover of fast cars, both vintage and new ones.
He said: “Cars give me some joy. If I wake up and after my communion with my creator, I love to look at my collection of cars. Of course, I am not born with them, but through a dint of hard work, some luck on my side and with God’s blessing, I was able to acquire them all.”
Disu is not just a great father to his children, but also a great grandfather as well as a caring and exemplary husband. He loathes laziness and sluggishness. He has sacrificed a lot financially and materially to see his children and grandchildren through qualitative education.
He holds a long list of traditional titles, including the Abobagun of Lagos; Borokini 1 and Nnanne Nna Mba of Isala, among the long list of other traditional titles conferred on him across the country.
Chief Disu, whose mother was the first Muslim girl admitted into Queens College, Lagos, and whose father attended King’s College, Lagos, is an alumnus of CMS Grammar School, Lagos. He holds postgraduate degrees and belongs to many professional bodies, including those of of Personnel Management and Public Administration.