Iru Kingdom, located in Victoria Island, Lagos was thrown into mourning on September 19, 2019 when Oba Idowu Abiodun Oniru passed on at the age of 82, but eight months later after a thorough search and healthy competition, sadness turned to joy with the announcement that urbane and astute public servant, Prince Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal of the Abisogun and Akiogun Ruling Houses will be new Monarch.
The announcement by the government was followed with a formal presentation of staff of office and instrument of appointment by Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, making Oba Lawal, who will be known as Abisogun II, the 15th Oniru of Iruland.
Though many traditional rites had been carried out, the ceremonies were rounded off with a spectacular coronation event that was upscale and regal. It was filled with a rich display of the kingdom’s culture and tradition.
Held at the expansive Oniru Palace, the event was attended by Lagos high society including Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, former Lagos Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Oba Saheed Elegushi, The Elegushi of Ikateland, Lagos First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, Chief Rasak Okoya and wife, Chief ( Mrs.) Folashade, HRM Oba Aromire, Prince Samuel Adedoyin, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Rev. Mother Esther Abimbola Ajayi and husband, Rev. Ademuyiwa Ajayi, HRM Oba Mufutau Gbadamosi, HRM Oba Semiudeen Orimadegun Kasali and HRM Oba Lateef Adams. The event had three segments: Prayer session, Speeches session and the Fun Session.
What was termed a very historic day in the life of the kingdom began with a special prayer session led by Islamic clerics. The new monarch was showered with prayers by many and there were also prayers for the continuous development of the community.
Thereafter, the new Oba who was joined by his gorgeous and graceful wife, Olori Maryam, in his full regalia, complete with beaded crown and instrument of office, took centre stage.
An elated Oba Lawal stated “Today begins another significant chapter in the annals of our dear Iruland as well as my life’s journey. Personally, this brings to my mind the complexity of life as espoused by Garth Nix who said and I quote “Does the Walker choose the path, or the path, the walker”. I am convinced that all these were in the pre-determined plans of Almighty Allah, who makes us as pencils in His magnificent hands.
“I started from the Palace in 1977 precisely, then went out of the Palace, and Lagos to other places, only now to arrive back here in the palace where I will remain until I join my ancestor”
Oba Lawal paid glowing tribute to his late dad, Chief Taurid Omobolaji Lawal-Akapo, Ojora of Lagos (1977-1993) and his sweet mother, Olori Kemi Lawal Akapo for their special love and strict upbringing which had helped him over the years.
While expressing his deepest appreciation for all the encomiums and prayers showered on him since he was named the Oniru, Oba Lawal, a three-time member of the State Executive Council, went ahead to unveil his economic development plan for the kingdom, titled: Let’s Develop Iruland Together condensed in the acronym “LeGIt”.
In his remarks, Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by his Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat described traditional institutions as “indispensable branch” of Yoruba society, stressing that the socio-economic growth witnessed in Iru Kingdom in the last two decades had contributed in no small measure to the development of Lagos.
Mr Governor commended the monarch for keeping peace and for sustaining the effort to unite members of the royal families after ascending the throne.
The Governor said he looked forward to more rewarding development activities in Iru land, but urged residents to rally round the Oniru and maintain peace in order to achieve the monarch’s outlined objectives.
Sanwo-Olu said he had absolute confidence in the leadership ability of Oba Lawal to transform the kingdom into a 21st century city of commerce and culture, urging him to bring his wealth of experience in public service to bear in the administration of Iru land.
According to the Governor “During the installation ceremony in June, I enjoined the Oniru to strengthen the existing bond of unity within Iru land for the overall development of peace and progress of this kingdom. Two months on the throne, I’m pleased to note that the monarch took this advice to heart as exemplified by his very impressive actions characterised by wisdom, knowledge and large heartedness.
The speech making segment was rounded off by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who eulogized the monarch and called for unity among Lagosians.
Thereafter, the venue exploded into a full party scene with good music, choice beverages and gourmet dishes flowing freely till late into the night.
The Oniru was born in 1970 to late Chief T. A. Lawal- Akapo, the Ojora of Lagos (1977-1993) and Olori M. A. Lawal-Akapo. Gbolahan is a Lagos Prince from the Ojora, Aromire, Shokun and Abisogun branch of Oniru Royal families of Lagos State.
He holds an Executive MSc in CITIES (LSE, Cities) from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He also obtained an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], University of London in 2008; a BSc Hons. in Botany from the University of Port-Harcourt in 1992 and a product of the famous St. Gregory’s College, Lagos.
He is a seasoned administrator with over 25 years postgraduate experience with an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the public sector.
Lawal started his career as a Scientific Officer with the Raw Materials Research and Development Council at the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in 1994. He later joined The Nigeria Police Force and was commissioned as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent. He was once ADC to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.