Chief Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson departed this world on October 28, 2023 and we just could not find the words to express this grievance because of the indelible mark she has etched in our hearts. She was not just a successful entrepreneur but also a champion for women’s rights, holding significant positions such as the first female president of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the president pro-tempore of the Forum of Female Traditional Rulers in Nigeria.
Born on January 18, 1951, into the Jiboku-Taiwo family in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. Chief Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson’s educational journey began at St. James’ African Primary School in Idi-Ape, Abeokuta, where she completed her primary education between 1957 and 1962. She continued her scholastic pursuits at Abeokuta Girls Grammar School, completing her secondary education in 1968.
Chief Lawson’s quest for knowledge led her to St. Nicholas Montessori Teachers’ Training College in Prince’s Gate, England, in 1973. Her time in England was transformative, and she graduated with a 1st Class Diploma in Education, reflecting her dedication to academic excellence.
Chief Lawson commenced her teaching career in 1969 at Children House School in Ibara. Her teaching journey continued when she traveled to England, where she contributed her expertise at Queen’s Gate Montessori Nursery School and Mill Hill Nursery and Junior School. In 1977, Chief Lawson returned to Nigeria, determined to make a difference in education. She founded Lawson’s Childcare Nursery and Primary School with just three students. Her visionary approach and unwavering commitment to quality education led to the expansion of the institution, eventually evolving into the prestigious Lawson Group of Schools.
Not content with a successful career in education, Chief Lawson ventured into the world of business, establishing Capricorn Stores Ltd, a trading and distribution firm between 1968 and 1996. Her business acumen shone brightly as she established distribution outlets with major corporations, including Nigerian Breweries Ltd, Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd, Guinness Nigeria Ltd, and West African Portland Cement Ltd. In 1995, Chief Lawson became the President of the Abeokuta Chambers of Commerce, later ascending to the position of President of the Ogun Council of Chambers of Commerce in the year 2000, a position she held until 2002.
Her dedication to economic growth didn’t end there. In 2009, she took another significant step by founding Abestone Microfinance Bank, with the aim of empowering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
However, Chief Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson’s most remarkable achievement was her election as the President of NACCIMA on May 25, 2017. This historic moment made her the first woman to lead this esteemed organization, a testament to her leadership, dedication, and the recognition of her significant contributions to Nigeria’s business landscape. Her tenure as NACCIMA President was marked by several milestones, including advocacy for gender equality and economic development.
Chief Lawson held several prestigious chieftaincy titles, including the Otun of Oko, the Asiwaju Iyalode of Egbaland, the Otun Iyalode of the Egba Christians, the deposed Iyalode of Egbaland, and the Iyalode of Yorubaland. These titles reflected her deep connection with her culture and the recognition of her leadership abilities within her community.
Chief Alaba Oluwaseun Lawson’s life story and historic role as the first female President of NACCIMA opened doors for countless women aspiring to lead in the corporate world. Her legacy is not just one of individual success but also one of empowerment, gender equality, and community leadership. Chief Lawson’s impact will continue to inspire and shape Nigeria’s future leaders, ensuring that her memory lives on as a symbol of excellence and leadership. As we bid farewell to this remarkable woman, we celebrate her indomitable spirit and enduring legacy.