The Dexterous Doyen: Celebrating Iyabode Folasade Aboaba @ 75

By Olutayo Irantiola

The dexterous Doyen of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Nigeria Chapter, Ms. Iyabode Folasade Aboaba, is a gifted person who has replicated herself in various ways. Like the proverbial talking drum, it is only the side of her that you see that you will know. She is an embodiment of talents and skills. She has a great pedigree and does not wear the toga of superiority. She serves you in the right measure- do you want to speak King’s English with her? Do you want her to speak French, to your delight? Is it Yoruba language? She is not someone that you can easily corner because she has accumulated 50 years of experience as a beautiful 25-year-old damsel. 

Ms. Aboaba has enjoyed a successful career spanning various organizations. For 17 years, she was the Admin and Human Resources Manager for Roxburg and Partners, a firm of Quantity Surveyors, and Design Group Nigeria, a firm of Architects. Thereafter, she moved to MUSON where she held management positions for 16 years where she worked as House and Operations Manager, then advanced to become General Manager. Currently, she is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the historical Freedom Park, Lagos.

Ms. Aboaba is a cornerstone of the International Facility Management Association (Nigeria Chapter). The association held meetings at the MUSON Centre in the early days of the association through her support. She won the admiration of many with her unwavering stance and her commitment. This made her serve as the Treasurer of the association for 8 years. Thereafter, she became the President in the 2013/2014 session. Let us see another side of Ms. Aboaba popularly called Auntie Iyabo.

Do you know Mama was an On-Air Personality (OAP) in her early years and she keeps using her sonorous voice to delight others? Mama voiced the documentary to commemorate the 25th anniversary of IFMA, Nigeria Chapter.

The President of the IFMA Nigeria chapter, Mr. Segun Adebayo said, “The first time I met with Mama, I was so inspired and I went home that day with an impression. One of the greatest assets that I see Mama have is deep knowledge and precision about everything. Mama still surprises me with the way she cares for people whom she doesn’t know, and that, for one, is more than a motherly status. Mama made me who I am today and for what you have deposited in me as your son and the one you are still depositing in me, God will keep you for me especially, and strengthen you.”

Also buttressing the President, The Executive Secretary of the Association, Mrs. Bamidele Chinedu described her as an amazing mother. “The way you take care of those that are around you, the way you get yourself involved, the way you make it your matter, and the way you just want things to work is an inspiration, you are an encouragement. If we want anything achieved or done, we know who to go to. If anyone is being difficult and we need intervention, we know who to go to. You are resourceful and have been a blessing to this association. I also love the way you take care of those that work with you. I personally appreciate when a leader can be genuinely involved in the lives of the led, helping them understand that they are more and can do more. God bless you Ma.”

A member of the association, Miss Shuaibat Shuaib said, “Since I have known about you, I went on google to search more about you. The records and achievements for me are so motivating and your life Ma has been so good and I am very motivated. I pray that the Almighty Allah will grant you many more years and grant you the strength to keep motivating young people like me to want to do things that you have done and work on the path that you have created.”

Another great quality about Mama’s commitment to the association is that despite her extremely busy schedule, she is always available for IFMA Programmes. In fact, she gets there on time, she is not a fan of African time.

Few people can recollect the arty days of Ms. Aboaba, in 2021, someone met her and told her that it surprised him that the flick, Things Fall Apart written by the renowned author, late Professor Chinua Achebe celebrated its 50th anniversary. Interestingly, Mama played the role of Bisi in the flick that was shown on August 1 at the Festival of Forgotten Films curated by Didi Cheeka. 

The quintessential facility manager cum artist in Mama was put at the fore during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Chief Warder of Freedom Park, Arch. Theo Lawson, said, “we are particularly thankful for her energy and resolve to keep the park safe, clean, and healthy throughout the 6 months of lockdown.”

Another art connoisseur, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo described her as an astute Arts Administrator, Culture Manager, and Humanist. This sums up many things about her.

She is also gifted in decoration and understanding of ornaments. She knows what sits best and where it sits best in terms of quality and quantity. She is such an excellent organizer of various events and she will definitely add glamour to it all.

She is a very pious woman who identifies strongly with her Christian family at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina. That’s the next place where you will find her playing her roles gladly across various departments of the church.

I think the best words that can describe dexterous doyen are etched in the chorus of Dermot Kennedy titled, “Something to someone”-

‘Cus I just wanna be something,

I just wanna be someone,

Someone who stands out in the crowd

Mother would be proud.

Something to someone!

Culled from The Facility Manager, the official magazine of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) Nigeria Chapter

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