The National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, today swears in Iyalode Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson as its 19th national president in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
The body holds the ceremonies for her investiture as its first female president, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library. NACCIMA also holds, in a separate ceremony, its 57th Annual Conference with the theme: Enhancing Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria. Iyalode Lawson takes up the mantle from Dr. Bassey Edem.
PROFILE: Iyalode Alaba Lawson MFR; F.IoD, JP
IYALODE ALABA OLUWASEUN LAWSON was born on January 18, 1951 to Papa and Mrs. Emmanuel Abiona Jiboku in Abeokuta. Her late father, Pa Emmanuel Abiona Jiboku was a technician with the defunct E.C.N 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, Ruth Jiboku, was 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 detests 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 Diploma in Education. A testimonial issued and signed by the co-principals in 1975 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’s Group of Schools.
The contributions of Iyalode Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson in the area of commerce and industry are no less outstanding. She established a trading / distributing firm known as Capricorn Stores Ltd, 1968- 1996. She ran the business successfully which she combined effectively with the running of Lawson Group of Schools.
Iyalode Alaba Lawson had chains of distributing outlets with Nigerian Breweries Ltd. Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd, Guinness Nigeria Ltd, West African Portland Cement Ltd etc. She is a major distributor in Abeokuta and other cities in the SouthWest of Nigeria.
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 Chamber Of Commerce (ABEOCCIMA) from the Ogun State Government. She ensured that the private sector in Ogun State came together to speak as one, advocating for business development. She became the President of Ogun Council of Chambers of Commerce in year 2000 and headed it till 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.
She has just established a Microfinance Bank known as Abestone Microfinance Bank to boost SMES. She is the chairman of the bank. Unequivocally, Iyalode Alaba Lawson’s strongest point however is in the area of philanthropy especially as it concerns the grass-roots and the under-privileged.
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 organisation 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, SouthWest of Nigeria. The Egba chapter of which is known as Association of Ogun State Traders. She has built this association into a formidable socio-economic programme through the use of her personal resources and influence 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 include, 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.
Above all, Iyalode Alaba Lawson has proved herself 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, 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”. (Foreword to the book titled: Iyalode Alaba Lawson. The Making of an Amazon, 2001).
Iyalode Alaba Lawson was decorated as an Ambassador of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. A mobilizer of the informal trade sector, she encourages them to form trade associations and be affiliated with the chamber of commerce and also form co-operatives to enhance access to finance.