The Chairman – Iyalode Alaba Lawson MFR – Justice of Peace
Iyalode Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson was born on the 18th January 1951 to Papa and Mrs. Emmanuel Abiona Jiboku in Abeokuta.
Her late father Pa Emmanuel Abiona Jiboku was a technician with then E.C.N. (now PHCN) where he served diligently for 39 years. He was known by the nickname Jiboku Tanna-Tanna which means “Jiboku the harbinger of light”. In recognition of his hardwork, the Queen of England bestowed on him the prestigious M.B.E award in 1957.
Her late mother Mrs. Ruth Jiboku (nee Coker) was the daughter of the famous Aderupoko Coker of Itesi who was a renowned merchant in her days.
Alaba had her Primary Education at St. James’ African Primary School, Idi-Ape, Abeokuta, between 1957 and 1962. Her teacher Mrs. E.O. Dasaolu described her as “a very sharp and bold pupil who could never be intimidated to tell a lie. Alaba also detest cheaters. A good organizer who gives great attention to orderliness”. From here she proceeded to the Abeokuta Girls’ Grammar School, also known as Anglican Girls’ Grammar School where she obtained the West African School Certificate.
She started her teaching career in 1969 and later left for St. Nicholas Montessori Teachers’ Training College at Prince’s Gate England in 1973 for further studies where she obtained a 1st Class Diploma in Education with distinction. The first African student to be so rated at the institution. A testimonial issued and signed by the co-principals in 1975 attests to this. It reads:
Mrs. Lawson was outstanding in her ability to master her academic studies. She worked with enthusiasm and intelligence. Therefore, we are sure Mrs. Lawson will make good use of these gifts for the benefits of the children and young people in Nigeria. We shall miss her in the college, but we look forward with confidence to hearing about the work she will accomplish.
During her stay in England, she taught in quite a number of well-known nursery schools, including the famous Queen’s Gate Montessori Nursery School and Mill Hill Nursery and Junior School.
True to the remarks in her testimonial, Alaba came back to Nigeria, taught for only one year and in 1977 established her own school known as Lawson’s Childcare Nursery and Primary School, which she started with just three students. Since then, she has not looked back. The little mustard seed has grown into the Lawson Group of Schools consisting of:
- Lawson’s International Private School – 1977
- Lawson Continuing Education Centre – 1992
- Alaba Lawson Royal College Abeokuta – 1995
- Alaba Lawson School of Advanced Studies – 2003
The contributions of Iyalode Alaba Lawson in the area of Commerce and Industry are no less outstanding. She became the President of the Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce in 1995 and it was during her tenure that she was able to secure a permanent building known as the “Commerce House” as secretariat for Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce (ABEOCCIMA) from the Ogun State Government. She became the President of Ogun Council of Chambers of Commerce between 2000 and 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.
- Currently Iyalode Alaba Lawson is the Chairman Board of Governing Council, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Ogun State (MAPOLY).
- The 2nd Deputy National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA).
- President – Odu’a Chambers of Commerce.
- Chairperson – NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWORG)
- Member Institute of Directors (IoD)
- Member Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
- Council Member – Nigeria British Chambers of Commerce (NBCC).
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.
Without any equivocation, Iyalode Alaba Lawson’s strongest point however is in the area of Philanthropy especially as it concerns the grass-root and the underprivileged. As a demonstration of her passion for academic excellence, she awards scholarships to indigent but brilliant students on a yearly basis. She also founded the Iyalode Egba Foundation, a non-profit making organization that caters especially for women in general and seeks to assist them economically, socially and morally. She has distributed locally-fabricated machines to women groups to help alleviate the condition of female traders in Ogun state, the Egba chapter of which is known as Egba La Wa. She has built this association into a formidable socio-economic programme through the use of her personal resources and influences to propagate cooperative lending amongst rural women and the needy for their personal development and economic empowerment.
Iyalode Alaba Lawson is mostly seen by other members of the grass-root as someone with a high sense of Justice, fairplay and empathy; as such she is the matron to a lot of societies which includes, the Butchers, Blacksmiths, Welders and Iron Benders, Palm Oil Sellers, Fresh Fish Sellers, Herbs and Roots Sellers and Ogun State Union of Journalists among others.
Above all, Iyalode Alaba Lawson has demonstrated herself as a beacon of hope, educationist, philanthropist, industrialist, community leader, opinion leader and a tower of strength for womanhood. A clear attestation of her sterling qualities is captured in the remarks of our former President and Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR who observed inter-alia 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 used her sense of justice to influence and settle disputes”.