His name is Mohammed Alabi Lawal, he was born on January 24, 1946, and before his transition to the world beyond on the 15th day of November, 2006, he succeeded in carving his name not just on the Up Lawal tanks which was erased during his lifetime, nor on his tombstone which was written by another man after his death, but etched it on our hearts, forever to be remembered, cherished, and to be loved.
The thorough born and bred Ilorin man who had his primary and secondary education in the town was a great man, an intellectual property, little wonder he was the Chief Engineering Officer of Nigeria’s most sophisticated war ships, from the NNS Enyirimi to the NNS Obuma, and even the NNS Aradu, Alabi Alasa was fully in charge.
The graduate of Mechanical Engineering at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria which happens to be my Alma mater is a man of vigour and valiancy, a man whose courage was matchless, his voice resonates like the whirlwind, a warrior that’s never cowed by conspiracy, history would forever be kind to the man that wholeheartedly challenged the status quo in Kwara, a battle that later hypostatize to the “Otoge” we’re all enjoying today, sweet it is that my mentor, his first son, Hakeem Oladimeji Lawal, an independent, soft-spoken and dedicated Kwaran is one of those that led the incursion that culminated into the fall of the establishment.
From the Royal Naval Engineering College to the H. M. S Sultan Gosport both at the U. K where he started his military career, to the Nigerian Naval Headquarters where he was the Director of Marine Engineering, until his appointment as the Military Governor of Ogun state, the wick of his lantern of success was always burning, he never for once dissapointed well-meaning Kwarans, the graduate of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Jos was an epitome of reformation.
During his tenure as the Executive Governor of Kwara state (1999 – 2003), all and sundry that witnessed those years of wonderful memories, can tell the goodness his reign brought to Kwarans, poverty wasn’t the order of the day, local contractors got jobs, even in his imperfections which is the nature of all men, he made sure Kwarans money worked for Kwarans, this was in line with his principle that the guide of a real man should be his sincerity and conscience, albeit, that was “fortunately” his greatest undoing, yes I said fortunately!
There’s no quitting, I can’t have quit in me. There was never an option to stop and quit – these were the words of Major Lisa Jaster, the third (3rd) woman to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School, same or should I say similar was the zeal of the Late Rear Admiral. When the earth threatened to capsize and quake under him, the federal might was intimidating and choking, and he could see the molten magma hot and burning, he could have begged or compromised, he could even have striked a deal, but the giant in him maintained his deferrence, and he weathered on with the true believe of Altruism.
Omo laderin saw the future that most couldn’t see, he saw a rainbow in the dark, it was a mystery to him that others couldn’t see what he saw, he tried explaining to them, but he was left in pain and agony, for most were actually blinded by the conspiracies schemed towards their sentiments, he was vilified and mistreated, he became the sacrificial lamb, but he made sure he layed the egg that later hatched to the liberation we enjoy today, may Allah be pleased with his soul.
Today, his reign and roles in the emancipation of Kwara thirteen (13) years after his death can not be whisked away, notifications of posthumous awards here and there, requests to write academic journals in his honour, philanthropy acts done in his revered name, his life was indeed a lesson – stand upright for a cause you believe in, if people don’t understand you today, they would understand you on a later date.
This is to Hakeem Oladimaji Lawal, his siblings, wives and family members of the late Rear Admiral, thank you for giving Kwara a man that is an hallmark of excellence, a being no man can succinctly eulogize, a soul whose radiance still illuminates thirteen (13) years after, true Ilorites, well-meaning Kwarans and indeed Nigerians are glad to have had him, his life of accomplishments would forever be a motivation to me and million others!
I urge all and sundry to make genuine prayers for a man with a public spirit, social conscience, benovelent heart, and unfeigned nature. He honestly is deserving of it, may his soul continue to rest in tranquility (Amin).
Issa Mutolib Ayobami popularly known as “Megabyte” is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University and an Alumnus of the Accra Business School. He writes from Ilorin, the Kwara state capital. He can be reached via email on email@example.com