IYALODE ALABA LAWSON
Iyalode of Yorubaland
Iyalode Alaba Lawson is a respectable woman in Yorubaland. She is the Iyalode of Egbaland, as well as the Iyalode of Yorubaland.
The nickname Omo Aderu Lona Meji, which translates to “child of load carriers,” was given to Alaba and her siblings by their merchant grandparents on both the paternal and maternal sides because of their bulky stock. Prior to his passing in 1918, her paternal grandfather, Pa Abraham Jiboku, also known as Edun, traded in European goods, while her maternal grandfather, Pa Coker, dealt in cocoa. Iyalode Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson was born to Papa and Mrs. Emmanuel Abiona Jiboku in Abeokuta on January 18, 1951.
Her parents joined the Jehovah Witness sect the year she was born, so she spent her early years traveling with them as they served as itinerant evangelists. Before she turned five, she started taking lessons at an open class in front of St. John’s Church Igbehin, Abeokuta. Between 1957 and 1962, Alaba attended St. James’ African Primary School in Idi-Ape, Abeokuta, for her primary education. The West African School Certificate was earned at the Abeokuta Girls’ Grammar School, also known as the Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, from where she moved on.
Alaba got married to Chief Oladeinde Lawson’s son Kehinde Lawson in 1968, who had also served as one of her mentors. Over time, the couple got divorced, but remained cordial. They had six boys, and one of them, Akinola Lawson, served as the governor of Ogun State’s Ibikunle Amosun’s special adviser on agriculture.
Alaba began her teaching career in 1969 and later moved to Prince’s Gate, England’s St. Nicholas Montessori Teachers’ Training College in 1973 for additional study, where she earned a 1st Class Diploma in Education with honors. the first African student to receive this rating from the school. She worked as a teacher in a number of renowned nurseries while she was living in England, including Mill Hill Nursery and Junior School and the renowned Queen’s Gate Montessori Nursery School. After returning to Nigeria, ALABA taught for just one year before founding her own school, LAWSON’S CHILDCARE NURSERY AND PRIMARY SCHOOL, with just three students. Since that time, she has not turned around. The little mustard seed has grown into the LAWSON’S GROUP OF SCHOOLS consisting of:
- Lawson’s International Private School – 1977
- Lawson’s Continuing Education Centre -1992
- Alaba Lawson Royal College Abeokuta – 1995. (A Secondary School)
- Alaba Lawson School of Advanced Studies – 2003.
Iyalode Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson has made equally impressive contributions in the field of commerce and industry. She founded Capricorn Stores Ltd., a trading and distribution business, which existed from 1968 to 1996. She successfully ran the company while juggling the management of the Lawson Group of Schools.
Iyalode Alaba Lawson is a significant distributor in Abeokuta and other cities in the South West of Nigeria. She had chains of distributing outlets with Nigerian Breweries Ltd., Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd., Guinness Nigeria Ltd., West African Portland Cement Ltd., etc..
She was elected president of the Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce in 1995, and it was during her leadership that the Ogun State government granted her permission to use the “COMMERCE HOUSE” as the secretariat for the ABEOKUT A CHAMBER of COMMERCE (ABEOCCIMA). She made sure that Ogun State’s private sector united to speak out in support of business development. In 2000, she was elected president of the Ogun Council of Chambers of Commerce, a position she held until 2002.
Her robust sense of industry and justice are summed up in the words of the late Alhaji Adeolu Balogun, former Deputy Governor, Ogun State and NACCIMA Executive who asserted as follows-: “Iyalode is an embodiment of industry, unalloyed loyalty to a just cause, transparently honest on issues, no double speak, a philanthropist of no mean order, a committed Egba Woman, an unrepentant custodian of Yoruba culture and above all a great mother. Her unalloyed loyalty to principle and integrity is peerless”.
As a good team player, she championed the approval of ODUA International Trade Fair. When she became the President of the Odu’a Chambers of Commerce, she secured an independent office for the chamber and resuscitated most of the moribund members.
- From 2013 till date she has been the Chairman Board of Governing Council, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. Ogun State (MAPOLY).
- She has also from 2015 till date, being the 1st Deputy National President of Nigeria, Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA).
- From 2012 to 2015, she was President, Odu’s Chambers of Commerce
- between 2000 and 2002, she was President, Ogun Council of Chambers of Commerce
- between 1995 and 2000, she was President Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce
- since 2005 till date, she has been Chairperson NACCIMA Business Woman Group (NAWORG).
- Since 2010 till date. She has been President, Federation of ECOWAS Business Women Entrepreneur. ECOWAS FEBWE.
- Since 2010 till date, she has been a Member, Institute of Directors (IOD). Since 2008 till date, she has been a Member Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI).
- Since 2011 till date, she has been a Council Member Nigeria British Chambers of Commerce (NBCC).
- She has just established a Microfinance Bank known as ABESTONE MICROFINANCE BANK to boost SMES. She is the Chairman of the bank.
The area of philanthropy, particularly as it relates to the grassroots and the underprivileged, is unquestionably where Iyalode Alaba Lawson excels. She gives scholarships to deserving but impoverished students every year as a sign of her dedication to academic excellence.
Iyalode Alaba Lawson is the matron of many societies, including the Butchers, Blacksmiths, Welders and Iron Benders, Palm Oil Sellers, Fresh Fish Sellers, Herbs and Roots Sellers, and the Ogun State Union of Journalists, among others. Other members of the grass-roots generally view Iyalode Alaba Lawson as someone with a high sense of justice, fairplay, and empathy.
She also founded the Iyalode Egba foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing women’s moral, social, and economic status in general. She has donated locally made machines to women’s organizations in Ogun State, South-West Nigeria, in an effort to better the situation for female traders. The Association of Ogun State Traders is the name of this group’s chapter in Egba. She has turned this association into a potent socioeconomic program by utilizing her personal resources and influence to spread cooperative lending among rural women and the poor for their economic empowerment and personal development.
Iyalode Alaba Lawson is an epitome of Yoruba Culture and tradition. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the propagation of Yoruba culture, she has been honoured with quite a number of chieftaincy titles, prominent among which are:
- The Otun of Oko
- The Asiwaju Iyalode of Egbaland
- Otun Iyalode of Egba Christians
- The Iyalode of Egbaland
- The Iyalode of Yoruba land recently conferred on her by H.R.M. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Iku Baba Yeye.
- The Alaafin of Oyo Kingdom.
She also served as the Matron during the 150th Egba Anniversary and as secretary during Madam Efunroye Tinubu 100th memorial anniversary in 1997.
Above all, Iyalode Alaba Lawson has shown herself to be a tower of strength for womanhood, an advocate for education, philanthropy, industry, and community leadership. Her sterling qualities are amply attested to in the words of His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, our former president and commander-in-chief, who noted, among other things, that “Chief Mrs. Alaba Lawson is not only of philanthropic disposition, but of extremely sensitive character, who will render assistance when needed, without regard for such divisive notions as tribe, language, and religion.” She has influenced and arbitrated conflicts using her sense of justice. (From the preface of the book Iyalode Alaba Lawson. 2001’s “The Making of an Amazon”).
Iyalode Alaba Lawson was honored as a UN Sustainable Development Goal Ambassador in February 2017 in recognition of her zeal and encouragement of female entrepreneurs. She encourages the formation of cooperatives to improve access to financing as well as trade associations and membership in the chamber of commerce. She is a mobilizer of the informal trade sector.
DAWN Commission celebrates you ma’am.
You are an Akinkanju!