By Tosin Clegg
A popular and riveting quote says, “Excellence is not a destination; it’s a continuous journey that never ends”. It takes a life dedicated to service and serving to live beyond the now, thinking, dreaming, planning and actualising a set goal or objective. This is the summary of a life voraciously given to excellence and service. This is the life of His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal.
His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal was crowned the 15th Oniru of Iru Kingdom on the 7th of June 2020. Prior to his monarchical appointment, Oba Lawal has been active on critical leadership positions both in the private and public sectors, preparing him to stir up notable shifts and acceptable standards for human development.
In the public sector, he served as a three-time Commissioner in Lagos State, firstly as Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives from July 2011 – May 2015; Commissioner for Housing, October 2015 – May 2019; and from August 2019 untill his coronation, Commissioner for Agriculture.
During his service in the agriculture sector, his notable interventions included: the initiation and development of the 5-year Agricultural Roadmap for the State (2020 – 2025), he also initiated the first Agricultural Stakeholders Summit, introduced the Lagos Agriprenuership Programme, initiated the Eko City Farmers’ market, the Annual Agric Value-Chain Empowerment Programme, Annual Lagos Seafood Festival, Eko Live Animal Transport Project and Lagos Urban Forest Animal Welfare Centre project, supervised and managed over 10,000 cooperative societies with a member strength of one million persons, spread across public and private organisations with an asset base of over N60 billion, amongst other meritorious and ground-breaking interventions.
In the housing sector, he established the Rent-to-Own home ownership scheme; the Master Craftsman Initiative for Artisans; pioneered the 4-in-14 days bungalow housing development from substructure to completion and, introduced the Lagos Affordable Public Housing (LAPH) initiative to encourage joint venture between the private sector and the State government in the provision of houses initiated policies that would boost and support residential mortgage markets.
Other positions of experience and service for Oba Lawal includes being on the board of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund from 2011-2019; Senior Special Assistant (Special Projects) to the Governor of Lagos State (December 2008 – July 2011), Escort Commander to the Governor of Lagos State, Superintendent of Police (rtd), Nigeria Police force, amongst others across private and public roles.
In his dedicated service to humanity, Oba Lawal also received numerous awards and accolades, particularly in recognition of his doggedness, creativity, and unflinching commitment towards discharging his duties.
Ascending the throne of his forebears, as the Oniru of Iru Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal clocked the golden age of 50 yesterday. As it is customary for friends, relatives and associates of people with unblemished and stellar records in private and public offices, multitudes celebrated the monarch on his birthday.
Commenting on the competence and determination of Oba Lawal as a public office holder, Team Head, Projects, Elephant Group Plc, Dr. Rotimi Fashola, expressed his delight working alongside Oba Lawal to achieve the various initiatives he headlined while in office. “I have known him for over a decade and he is such a beautiful soul. Oba Lawal is a very determined person and one of the very few you have in public offices who would go to any length to achieve desired results. His kind is rare and I am impressed with the level of commitment and renewed zeal he brought to projects while in service to the government,” he said.
“At 50, Oba Lawal is just starting life. He is very intelligent, gentle, accommodating and niche builder who did so well during his service to the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture. The people of Oniru kingdom must be proud to have a rare gem like Oba Lawal leading the community with his wealth of experience,” Fashola added.
To Justice Lateef Lawal Akapo, a Judge at the High Court of Lagos, Oba Lawal is well prepared to lead Iru Kingdom to greater heights. “To have come out with the best results at the Police Academy and being the Aide de Camp (ADC) in the most vibrant state in the country prepared him for this assignment. Also, his having a Master’s degree in conflict resolution, which is key to the throne, has uniquely placed him in the right position to lead. Imagine, he did all of these without knowing he is preparing for this position, so his training dovetailed to ascending the throne,” Justice Akapo said.
He added; “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, so having been in governance at the state level that will make it a straight part for him to rule Iru land.”
For Oba Lawal, who graduated with one of the best results from the Nigerian Police Academy, it is safe to say he spent quality time reading through pages of printed materials, quality books and other forms of developmental materials to increase his wealth of knowledge.
This fact was corroborated by the Executive Director, Page Financials International Services Limited, Mr. Remi Ogunsipe who admitted the easiest of gifts to pick for the monarch on his birthday are books.
“You can call him bookworm and you are right. There are times I spend Sundays at his place where we talk through books, politics, personal development and a lot of other things,” Ogunsipe said.
“He is actually driven by intellectual conservations. You can discuss any issue with him, and he would gladly hold a conversation because he must have either read about it or had a close experience, he can share. He is one of the humblest beings I have met and doesn’t hold grudges irrespective of your pedigree.”
Extolling the visionary qualities and competence of Oba Lawal, Mrs. Dorothy Obata, Head Business Development, Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), said; “HRM Oba Lawal is a person of many qualities, yet humble and accessible; soft-spoken but articulate; he thinks about the people all the time. He is a visionary, always thinking of ways to make a difference and indeed makes a difference anywhere he leads. I saw evidences of this when he was Honourable Commissioner in the Ministry of Housing and then briefly in the Ministry of Agriculture. I am happy for the people of Iruland because they have a ruler who will take them to higher levels of development in every sphere.”
Femi Okuyelu, Country Manager, Ferratum Money, Nigeria and Laotan Olamuyiwa, Chief Executive Officer, Folham NIG Limited, are appreciative of Oba Lawal for his youth and agricultural driven schemes. According to Okuyelu, “HRM Oba Lawal has been a good mentor and role model. He has a sincere passion for youth development and empowerment. This is often reflected in his choice of projects. A good example is Agriculture, an objective to make young agripreneurs self-respecting and prosperous owners of their own farming enterprises.”
On the other hand, Laotan Olamuyiwa said; “He takes personal interest in intellectual development and has a compassionate commitment in making Iru an enviable kingdom. He is quite knowledgeable with a continuous quest for learning.”
With a robust level of experience and active service in key sectors of the economy, it would not be far-fetched to say that Iru kingdom is about to witness one of the most unprecedented developments directly under a monarch. Many theories of development have affirmed that development thrives on ideas but more important is the fact that ideas are not self-applying, individuals will have to drive them. To be able to do this, such individuals – the drivers of development – must first be refined and possess key indicators that they also have internalised at a personal level.
HRM Oba Gbolahan has been refined for delivery of excellence and ground-breaking achievements.