Tribute To Monzoure Lawal

By Maduka Nweke

The death of Hon. Monzoure A. K. Lawal, the Baale Ago-Ijebu Ijero, Ebute-Metta (West), Lagos, is a great loss to his community. As a leader, he was the epicenter of all the activities within and around the community such that the moment the community was about to have a Baale, a voice from the crowd rose and shouted that a golden fish has
no hiding place and pointed at Chief M.A.K Lawal as the one most
qualified for the job.

Men are born the same way but men are differently made, this is according to a Greek Philosopher, Galileo Gordon. As Royalty connotes, Pa Lawal was an epitome of wisdom, justice and kindness. His people, as was experienced during the burial, wished that he stayed many more years with them.

According to Mr. Razaq Babatunde Lawal, the first son of the deceased,
who retired as Chief Engineer at the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), the late Lawal was born in December 10, 1927 at No. 16, Salu Court, Ebute-Metta (West) Lagos to the family of late Pa. D.K. Lawal,
(the Baba-Adeen of Olokodana Mosque; and his mother from Gomez of the Faji Chieftaincy Family in Lagos. He would have clocked 97 years of age, this year 2023 before he rejoined his ancestors.

He started his primary education at St. Paul’s Catholic Primary School Ebute-Metta (West) in 1934, Holy Cross Cathedral School Lagos in 1939. He, however, completed in 1943 and attended Ibadan Boy’s High School and National Evening Classes respectively and finished at the New High Class School in Lagos in Middle II in 1945.

He started his political life in 1965. While still working with Association of Nigeria Co-operative Exporters (ANCEL) Ltd, Ibadan at Wharf Road, Apapa, and the Produce was Cocoa beans, coffees and cashew nuts. He contested for the Local Council elections into the Lagos Municipal Council in 1965 on the platform of the Action Group (AG), the political party of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo /Area Council in alliance with the NCNC, which formed the UPGA party (United Peoples Grand Alliance Party). He won and was elected among the councilors for the Lagos Mainland Area. During his tenure, he was appointed member of the Board of Governors of the United Christian
Secondary School Apapa, until the military coup of 1966.

With the abrupt change in venue of the elections, he still won and was elected the councilor between 1976 and 1980 for a 2nd term which he completed successfully in 1980 with Governor L. K. Jakande. He served in Lagos state at different times as member of the Board of Governors Lagos State; in Water and Broadcasting Corporation up till November, 1983.

As a result of his interest in the Community, he joined and held leadership positions in the following associations; the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps Programme in 1967 till the end of the civil war in 1970. He was a member of the Traffic Wardens and served the nation during the change-over to Right Hand Traffic from 1972-1989. A member,
Board of Governors of Post Primary Institution, Ilogbo High School in 1994, member of the Political Bureau, Lagos Mainland Local Government Council in October 2, 1999 and was elected First Baale of Ago-Ijebu, Ijero/Ebute-Metta West, by His Royal Highness, Kabiyesi Oba Ganiyu O. Odesanya, the Oloto of Otto and Lagos Mainland, Lagos-State.

Lawal had a legacy of hard work and interest in the development of the
community. He took care of the young, the old and the family members and the extended family. “I could remember during his coronation as the Bale, somebody from the crowd said loudly to the hearing of everyone. This is a golden fish and he has no place to hide”. He was
instrumental to keeping the open spaces you see intact and for that, no one tampered with them till his death. He kept the public water, the one at Fagbemi, the one at the triangular area. Some of them though have been taken over, while he was still strong by the
government.

Mrs Omolola Akinwande (Deaconess), the first said her father was a man who loved everyone irrespective of their biological or otherwise. He loved education hence he did not deny any of his children the right to go to school. Even those who didn’t want to go to school, he made sure they learned a trade that would carry them on not to depend on anybody. Yes, he was a Muslim but some of his children are Christians because he was a liberal man who did not force anything on anybody.
He gave everyone freedom to make choices of what he/she wanted in life.
When we were younger we all went to Mosque and learned how to recite
the Quran. But because I don’t really understand the Islamic teaching, when I went to Secondary School, I happened to get into close contact with Christians and joined the Fellowship there. I understood what they were doing, so it did not take me much time to join them and I gave my life to Christ.

I got married to Olatunde Akinwande the first daughter, a much younger person and to my surprise; I was not denied this advance as I thought I would because I was not in any way ready for a Moslem marriage as a Christian. Papa in his magnanimity didn’t hesitate in granting my wish and this encouraged me to have an untainted relationship with the family as a whole. I benefitted immensely from his fatherly advice and encouragement. His large heart made it easy for me not to have unnecessary pressure from in-laws but best tidings all through his life. Rest on daddy.

Yemisi Haileru, one of the daughters who came all the way from America, said she purposely came to give her father a final farewell. “My father was a very disciplined man, very hard-working, very industrious, a lovable man who did not discriminate at all.”

For the second son, Ibrahim Lawal, the death of his father was a death
of kindness. He said he really lost his father’s kindness. According to him, “My
father brought everybody together without segregation. I can’t say much because I don’t know what to say and leave the others. I know that God gives and God takes. Let God receive his soul in peace, Amen. My father was a disciplined man, a strong man; the community will
definitely lose him,” he said.

The secretary of Glaucoma association who was surprised by Baba’s death noted that the man was a great leader who always took responsibility and would be in the front line. Anytime they needed
publications regarding Glaucoma, baba was there to represent them. “We both usually went out either to the Lagos Radio, Governor’s office at Alausa, NTA V/Island. Trust baba; he would always be in the front while we followed. I remembered during our Glaucoma Week, we took a walk from National Stadium to Ojuelegba, baba was with us. We will miss him a lot,” he stated.

For Alhaji Sulaiman Badiru, a close associate and co-shareholder member in Nigeria Tribune, (Chairman Welfare Officer Tribune), “we are burying a hero, very intelligent, wise, very hard-working, notable and accommodating man. His legacy is that he always cares for everybody. He always seeks to know how everyone is doing even if it means getting to the person’s house, he doesn’t mind the pains involved. For the youths of today, if they should imbibe his attitudes in life, they will succeed in life but youths of today are too much in a hurry to make money. This syndrome of making quick money has made them to be lazy and ready to do anything whatsoever to make money. He was elected a Councilor in 1963 and we were both shareholders in the Nigerian
Tribune”.

According to Mr. Sheun Willams, the President of Ijero Old Boys Association, Ebute-Metta, this great man would have been 97 on December 12, 2023. “He was an unrelenting and selfless community
leader, always ready to help anybody. He was a Councilor in the 60’s during the time of Action Group and LTV8, Board member during Jakande Action Group. Former Chairman Ijero Indigene’s Association and it was the platform that became the springboard to actualize his Baaleship. I fondly referred to him as an old war horse, tirelessly and always on
the move. At 96, the evil people have finally done their worst. May his selfless soul continue to rest in peace, Amen,” he noted.

In the mind of Alhaji Yekin Quadiri Olokodana from Olokodana Mosque, the late Monzoure Kolawole Adebayo Lawal, was a strong member of our Mosque. He has the title of Sarakin Adeen. His late father was the first Baba Adeen of the Mosque. He has been a high contributor to the Mosque both financially and morally. His presence meant a lot for us
and now we are missing him, missing all the activities that accrue through him. While he was alive, he did a lot to tutor us and direct us on the right way to follow. He was a regular attendant to the
Mosque and each time he came, he would teach us one thing or the other
in relation to Islam. He lived a very good life.

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