*Photo : Late Chief Alaba Lawson*
I had had the good fortune of coming across that awesome, amazing and highly reverred personality called Iyalode Egbaland, (and indeed Iyalode of Yorubalañd), Chief Alábá Lawson, JP, during one of my official engagements to Abeokuta while at the Features Department of the defunct The Daily Times Group of Newspapers, Abeokuta, very early iń the 1990s, when one of my highly respected bosses, Mr. Kunle Odufuwa was the Chief Press Secretary to then Ogun State Military Governor, Col. Daniel Akintonde.
On meeting Iyalode Lawson, who though was highly reverred, but had no airs around her whatsoever, but regarded everyone around her with unbelievable courtesies, I instantly built a relationship with her, which blossomed to limitless heights till she breathed her last, (though having not been in touch with her in the last one year)..
In 1997, Iyalode Lawson had invited me over to her Office in the premises of the sprawling premises of her Model Private Secondary School, Alábá Lawson Royal College, located next to the premises of Gateway Hotel, Kuto, Abeokuta.
It was at the end of our discussion that Iyalode Lawson told me to go to meet the authorities of a top private frontline Private Security Company located at Ojodu Axis of Lagos immediately I get back to Lagos.
According to her, the couple at the helms of affairs of the Company, (which they own), have been on her neck to introduce her to the person that has been making her activities very visible in the Print Media, ( particularly The Daily Times Group of Newspapers, where I was a Line Editor, and pushing her stories there).
On getting back to Lagos the following day I had headed to the premises of the company’s Ojodu, Lagos office.
Meeting with wife, (and later husband of the top flight Private Security Company, ( names withheld), they had instantly approved my hiring as the part time Media Consultant to help them coordinate their Company’s activities in the Media, having expressed their admiration for my professional wherewithal.
My visit to their Company actually coincided with the time that they were planning to run a series of promotional Advertisement on the Training that the Company was planning across the country, alongside the formal commissioning of the Company Chapel that that had been slated for formal Commissioning in a couple of weeks from that time.
My contact with the Private Security Company was to endure till the moment that the Company reneged in promptly settling the balance of the already published Advertorials that they had approved that I guaranteed for them , pending the time that the money would be ready for payment from the company.
Infact, at a point when I was physically assaulted by the officials of the company after demanding that the money owed (to The Guardian Newspapers), be paid without further delay, Iyalode Lawson took it very personal, as if she was the very one that was assaulted.
Apart from personally taking me to the palace of the Paramount Royal Father of Egbaland, the Alake, and the Vicarage of the Methodist Arch Bishop of Egbaland to bring my manhandling to the attention of the Ẹgba Paramount Ruler and the Methodist ArchBishop, (since the wife of the Managing Director of the Company, who herself was the Deputy, also hails from Abeokuta, and was earlier honoured with the Church’s Honourary Award), the open cheque of Fifty Thousand Naira (#50,000.00.) was given to me
To show how I had been accepted as a honourary member of her family, Iyalode Lawson once compelled me to bring my wife and our three children down to her home at Ita-Eko Axis of Abeokuta, to dine with her and her aged, but very agile and highly accommodating grandmother.
And at the end of of very sumptuous luncheon with her and Mama on a particular day, my wife our children were loaded with gifts.
It was one of Iyalode Lawson’s joy to always invite over to Abeokuta at most End of Year get-together that she organised for Media Practitioners at her Ita-Eko home.
When she had a running battle with the Governor Gbenga Daniel’s at a point, and the Alake palace was being forced to dethrone her as the Iyalode of Egbaland, the late Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adéyemí promptly summoned Iyalode Lawson and informed her of his decision to install her as the Iyalode of Yorubalañd, which was within the powers of the reigning Alaafin of Oyo, and which infact superceded her current title of Iyalode of Egbaland at the time.
Late Iyalode Lawson made sure that she carried me along all through, never denying me of the needed information regarding her well-being at the time.
Such was the amazing love and uncommon admiration that Iyalode Alaba Lawson had for me and my family.
Though it is most painful that such a strong advocate for the empowerment of women in Business, Industry and Commerce across Nigeria could just breathe her last at the age of 72, (less than three Months to her 73 years, come the 18th January, 2024), when her mother lived to the ripe age of over 90 years, it is however a thing of great joy, that Iyalode Alaba Lawson accomplished all her heart’s desires despite not living long enough.
It is on record that Iyalode Alaba Lawson successfully devoted her entire life to giving good and quality education to the younger ones through her Alaba Lawson Group of Schools, ( comprising of Nursery and Primary School, and Alábá Lawson Royal College , (which offers very qualitative Secondary School to young Nigerians from across Nigeria), in the past forty-six years, having started her forray into educating Nigerian youths in 1977 with less than 10 children.
Apart from making her mark as one of the leading Ñigerian women that devoted her entire lifetime to providing quality education to Nigerian youths, Iyalode Alaba Lawson also made history as the very first Nigerian woman to rise to become the President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA.
May the amazing and awesome soul of Chief Alábá Lawson,JP, Iyalode of Yorubalañd, and Egbaland, rest in perfect peace.
And may The Almighty God grant all grieving members of your family the required fortitude to bear this painful and irreparable demise.
Thanks soooooo much for being there for me while you were physically here with us, our Dear Iyalode gbogbo Yorùbá.
You can now have your DESERVED EVERLASTING REST at the Bosom of Our Creator.
O daaro Ma. !
Iyalode Alaba Lawson, J.P., good night !!
May The Almighty God bless your Amazing Soul, filled with the milk of human kindness, and grant you eternal peace forever. Amen.
*Rotimi Adebayo is a veteran Journalist and former Chairman of the Daily Times Chapel of Lagos NUJ.
He was Chief Press Secretary to the then Governor of Lagos State, (now President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and later Chief Press Secretary to former Speaker of Lagos State Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji.
He was the Publisher, Development Focus Magazine, turned Development Focus Online Magazine.
He is a UNDP trained Development Journalist, and a Fellow, Salzburg Seminar Leopoldstron, Austria.