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Oba Lawal at 50: Worthy royal with rich heritage

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Oba of Iru land, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal and his Olori, Maryam at his 50th birthday celebration in Lagos …yesterday

The 15th Oniru of Iru Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal, yesterday, joined the golden age. This is coming a little over a month after he was presented with the Staff of Office by the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

In a low-key celebration witnessed by family members and his close associates, the day provided an opportunity to thank God for the life of monarch, while special prayers were offered on his behalf.

Before ascending the throne to succeeded Oba Idowu Oniru (Akiogun II), who joined his ancestors in September 2019, Oba Lawal was the Commissioner for Agriculture in Lagos State.

Born on July 24, 1970, to Chief Taoreed Akapo Lawal, who was the Ojora of Lagos from 1977-1993 and Alhaja Muinat Olabisi Abeni Ajasa of Abisogun Oniru, young Abdulwasiu attended Holy Trinity Primary School Ebute-Ero from 1976-1982 and St Gregory College Ikoyi from 1982-1987 where he obtained his O’Level Certificate (West African Examination Certificate). He proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State from September 1988 – September 1992 where he obtained B.Sc (Hons) in Botany.

The search for greater alternatives that meet cognitive criteria led Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, United Kingdom, where he bagged M.Sc. in Violence, Conflict and Development. The advancement of his enterprise also led him to The London School of Economics and Political Science London, United Kingdom from Sept 2018 – Feb 2020 where he obtained Executive MSc in CITIES (LSE Cities).

His quest for more knowledge led him to The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA, where took courses on Housing Finance in a changing Global Environment, (International Housing Finance Program) and Wharton Advanced Management Programme (AMP) in July 2015 and June 2018 respectively.

Oba Lawal took a certificate course on Jobs for a Globalizing World: World Bank Labor Market Policy Global Course at the World Bank Institute, Washington DC in April 2010; Programme for Senior Executives in National and International Security: Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in September 2006, Strategies for Managing Public Private Partnership: European Centre of Advanced & Professional Studies (ECAPS), Cambridge in November 2011 as part of his rich and impressive profile.

Leadership for Oba Lawal is both divine and designed, both working in a purpose-built architecture to serve destiny and desire. A closer look at the background of Oba shows that he had prepared himself for leadership quite early in life, as he delved so deeply to understanding human conflicts and how to manage them. For instance, at SOAS, his dissertation topic was “Is Greed or Grievance the driver of Niger-Delta Conflict?” While on the course, he took modules, which enhanced his understanding of the interrelationship between conflict and development.

With his ascension of the throne, the Iru Kingdom is about to witness one of the most unprecedented developments directly under a monarch with ideas. Oba Lawal takes personal interest in intellectual development and has a compassionate commitment in making Iru an enviable kingdom.

For a monarch of his pedigree, a personal limit has been set for what can be said to be acceptable standard and value for human development. The Oba attended conferences and workshops to put him in his stead to bring more development to Iru Kingdom.

Oba Lawal had a very impressive work history, which in evaluative sense, he started on Oct. 1992 – Sept. 1993, when he participated in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps at Federal Capital Development Authority, FCT Abuja (NYSC). This was soon to be followed by his employment at the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology from at July 1994 – July 1996. He later enlisted in the Nigeria Police Force from August 1996 to April 1998, when he was commissioned as Assistant Superintendent of Police by the Nigeria Police Academy and by October 2008, he had retired as Superintendent of Police. His assignment as police officer was an exposé to the people and societies of the Nigerian state as he moved around the country in the service of his duty to the nation.

Oba Lawal veridical with public office started in June 1999, when he was Aide de Camp (ADC) /Escort Commander to the Governor of Lagos State. He carried out his assignments with dispatch until 2007, when his designated goal of Chief Security Officer to the Governor came to an end with the completion of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinibu’s tenure as governor of Lagos state. He was later appointed Senior Special Assistant (Special Projects) to the Governor of Lagos State from December 2008 – July 2011.

A three-time Honourable Commissioner in the Lagos State Government, he’s a seasoned security and development practitioner, with deep understanding for political economy of development especially in low- and middle-income economies.

Oba Lawal belongs to many royal and chieftaincy families in Lagos. Interestingly, his Obaship is an inheritance from his maternal side. His mother, Alhaja Muinat Olabisi Abeni Ajasa was married to Chief Taoreed Akapo Lawal, who was the Ojora of Lagos from 1977-199; he was the last Chief Ojora of Lagos prior to the upgrading of the chiefdom into Kingdom during the era of the incumbent Oba Fatai Aremu Aromire, Oyegbemi II. He was traditionally designated as Adejiyan ll and Oba Lawal is his second child. Through his Paternal link to Ojora, Oba connected to Eletu Awo, Aromire, Onitana and Oloto chieftaincy families in Lagos.

He has ancestral ties to the Abisogun family of Iru land. The Oba is falls under Jinadu Abisogun of Iruland. Jinadu Abisogun is the father of Ajaratu Jinadu Abisogun who married Abdul Rahaman Adelakun and together they had seven children. The first of their children, a female, Muniratu Adelakun is the grandmother of Oba Lawal. He is a man surrounded by royal blood.

An older cousin to the Oba and Judge at the Lagos High Court, Justice Lateef Lawal Akapo, while explaining the selection process of an Oniru royalty said, “In every chieftaincy house, there is a registered declaration, a statement in a written form, regulating succession to that chieftaincy or Obaship. It will spell out the number of ruling houses in that chieftaincy and the order of rotation as to how they can ascend the throne. This will be documented and signed by the Governor of the state.

“In law, it is regarded as the customary law to guide the process. For the Oniru, it was signed into law around 1990, which was signed by the immediate past Oba of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan of blessed memory. It identified three ruling houses namely the Akiogun, Ogunyemi and Abisogun ruling houses.”

Akapo stressed that although the Oba of Iru land was not the only candidate, he emerged as the popular choice of the vast majority of Abisogun family.

“There was a call or notice in the newspapers seeking all sons and daughters of the Abisogun dynasty to come together to choose a new Oniru. At such meetings, the attendance is overwhelming. Although there were some opposing groups which was inconsequential, because it has to do which Obaship, these are expected but it didn’t prevent him from carrying the day.”

Describing the Oba, Akapo said, “To have come out with the best results at the police academy and being the Aide de Camp (ADC) of the most vibrant state in the country prepared him for this assignment. Also, having a Master’s Degree in conflict resolution, which is key to the throne, has uniquely placed him well. He was doing all of these without knowing he is preparing for this position, so his training dovetailed to ascending the throne.

“He has acquired a lot of connections, skills, intellect and experience in conflict resolution. Obaship is a local administration and he has been involved in government administration. Having been in governance at the state level, that will make it a straight path for him to rule Iru land. Oba Lawal has intimidating credentials and so he was also chosen for his courage, carriage and charisma; a man who can stand before governments and represent his people. He is not the only adult male in his lineage, but he is the most qualified.”


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