If the phrase, “Life well spent” was a human being then it would have been Ibidun Ighodalo. This is evident in the skin-deep pain her death has caused those whose lives she touched, those who passively crossed her path as well as those who until after her death heard about her; the sorry was the same.
The quality of life she lived reflects on the thousands of eulogies pouring out on social media since June 14th, when she was announced dead.
On the said date, the founder of ‘Ibidun Ighodalo Foundation’ and the CEO of of Elizabeth R, died in Port Harcourt where lodged in a hotel for a couple of days in order to carry out a job for her client.
Her death which came as a surprise to everyone, is unarguably the most talked so far in Nigeria this year. Again, this shows that her legacies live. They live through whose lives she touched directly and those she inspired through her work ethics and by just being an angel on earth.
Ibidun is the reason why many homes have children and why many businesses thrive as well as why many people can even put food on their table.
Please read as we try to sketchily catch some of the major moments of live with you.
I Never Knew I’d Marry Pastor Ituah—Ibidun Ighodalo
She is one of those celebs who have enjoyed the klieg lights right from her teenage years. As Miss Lux, the then 18-year-old Ibidun Ajayi, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, graced fashion pages as the queen, who emerged without wearing a bikini.
Well, she made waves, which seemed not to have stopped 13 years after.
Now, as Mrs. Ibidun Ighodalo and head of Elizabeth R, her events outfit, the klieg lights focus more on her. Two questions popped up for the style enthusiast—What prompted her to marry a pastor? Why did she dump her Microbiology certificate for events planning?
“First, I didn’t set out to marry a pastor,” she said amidst laughter. Recalling how she met Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, flawless-complexioned Ibidun opened up:
“I was outside of an event venue and wanted to pick something inside the hall when I bumped into a man. ‘Oh, sorry,’ I said and went inside but something in my spirit told me that he was my husband! I didn’t believe the voice because that was the last thing on my mind. Later, we became friends, and I saw in him, a father and a confidant. P.I (she referred to him as that throughout the interview) fitted into my late father’s shoes and did (still does) all that my father did to me. I lost my father early but he adored me and I had a strong relationship with him. So, when I met P.I, I connected to him.”
“Did he know I contested in a beauty pageant? Yes, he did and understood what the Miss Lux pageant was all about—no indecent exposure. Before we got married, he asked me a lot of questions because it was important to him that I was spiritually fit and ripe for him.”
Wondering what her mother thought of her daughter marrying a popular pastor, who was quite older than her? “My mother had always told me that I was too mature for my age and would end up marrying an older guy. She was not surprised at my choice and seeing us living happily ever after is enough joy for her.”
Before you delve into her sojourn into the world of events planning, it is suitable Ibidun talked on how she fits into the shoes of a pastor’s wife.
“Truth be told,” she enthused, “It has not been easy but God can never give you what you can’t handle. To every responsibility God gives me, he empowers me for it. Fortunately, I have a husband who never puts me under pressure, he does not expect me to be who I am not, neither does he force me to behave in certain ways. He makes me do what I am meant to do.”
If you think she is lucky to be married to her P.I, you would go green with envy when she said: “My husband is too amazing and I want the best for him. He has never been upset with me since we got married and I humorously tell him to ‘please get upset so that we can quarrel like other couples.’ We are both quiet but we have our conversations in our silence.”
Now, let’s talk about Elizabeth R. The birthday party of Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija had out-of-this-world decorations. The invites would remain as a souvenir with guests.
Ibidun has succeeded in bringing a classy touch to events planning. “When I was younger and there was any event in our house, I would be the one running around for things to be right,” she reminisced.
“It is something I love doing and I could be up all night decorating. With events, I work with the mind of my clients and they know they would get the best from me. There are times I wonder how we got some arrangements but God is my inspiration. He gives the gifts and puts pictures of what to do on my mind.”
But she is elitist with her clientele, isn’t she? “Well, it depends on what you mean by that. It is like buying an item from an exclusive store-it is not common. It is unique. The company is not elitist but there is the need to carve a niche for yourself and get away from the crowd in matters of creativity,” she replied.
There is no gainsaying the fact that she is elegant and knows what time it is in the world of fashion.
“I am just a simple person, who wears what makes her comfortable,” said Ibidun, who is an Odion Momuet label freak.
“Style is about your carriage. It is about how you bear your body in what you are wearing. I could go in an Ankara which is worth N1, 500 and everyone would think it costs much more. I could wake up and say, ‘I want a Gucci dress, teamed with a cardy on it and still look elegant. I always consider comfort in fashion and not the vogue.”
The make-up you find on her in these pictures was for a photo shoot. Ibidun would tell you that she is not a cosmetics person.
“Immediately I apply my lip gloss, I am set. My flawless skin? “It’s amazing because I don’t like taking water and I don’t have any special beauty regime. I just make sure my face is washed before I go to bed,” she explained.
Before she dashed off to attend to a client, she wrapped up this interview with what has been a nudge in her.
“I am planning to have another 50th birthday party for my husband,” she enthused. “I was not too comfortable with the decoration and arrangement at the last party we had for him. I was too busy and allowed others to do the job, which didn’t make me happy throughout the occasion. I am thinking of doing it the Elizabeth R’s way. If I have done it beautifully for others, I should be able to do it for the man I love.”
Ibidun, Life Without You Is Colorless, Dry—Ituah Ighodalo
They were in love.
First, Ituah was a divorcee.
A chartered Accountant, his first wife, Lucy-Ann Summer, who is also of same profession, left him.
Meanwhile, his first marriage which was contracted abroad was without a child and his wife refused to return with him to Nigeria. He became born again and she broke up with him.
As a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church Of God, he was not expected to be divorced.
The rule is, as long as that spouse you are divorced from is alive, you cannot remarry.
Maybe that kept Pastor Ituah for 10 years as a bachelor. He was single, divorced but pastoring a RCCG Parish n Gbagada.
Then, he met a beautiful youth corper, Ibidunni Ajayi, who had also contested for the Miss Lux Beauty Pageant.
A graduate of Microbiology, Ibidun and Pastor Ituah dated for four years.
“I met Ibidun when she was fresh out of school and we became friends. She was young and always wanted to organize things,” he told members of the Professional Event Planners Association, who paid him a condolence visit on Tuesday.
He proposed to her after 18 months of friendship.
They got married on April 16, 2007 and had their engagement three days later in Ibadan.
Since he had remarried, he had to leave the Redeemed Church.
Two years later, he founded the Trinity House Church.
Little wonder, she wrote on their 12th wedding anniversary in 2019:
You’ve been my friend…..
You’ve been my lover…..
You’ve been my father….
You’ve been a husband…..
You’ve comforted me…..
You’ve made me laugh….
You’ve groomed me…..
You’ve defended me…..
You’ve understood me….
You’ve stood by me….. Everyday in my consciousness and unconsciously I thank God for the gift of Olajide…. God truly knew what He was doing when He made our paths cross……”
She would always talk about their love and his support. When they had their 13th wedding anniversary last February, she wrote,
“13th year anniversaries are symbolised by LACE… Baby,
May our lives continue to be LACED in love
May our love continue to be LACED with Gods grace
May our marriage and union continue to be LACED with peace, joy and happiness
May our peace continue to be LACED WITH Gods protection
Thank you for giving me peace
Thank you for being my peace
Thank you for allowing me to fly
Thank you for allowing me Express who I am
Thank you for holding me
Thank you for being my pillar of support
Thank you for loving me UNCONDITIONALLY
Thank you for being my father
Thank you for being my friend
Thank you for being my lover
Thank you for 13 years of divine love…. I love you now and forever.
Happy anniversary my love @pastorituahighodalo
❤❤❤ #13Years #Anniversary #Marriage #Love #TheIghodalos ❤❤❤”
Meanwhile, the pastor husband during their 11th wedding anniversary in 2018 wrote about his wife: “My superstar… life without you is colourless and dry… thank you for bringing so much joy and favour my way…You are my EVERYTHING and I promise to love and protect you all the days of your life… Happy anniversary Kokoye.”
After 11 Failed IVFs, I Gave Up! I Said, Enough-Ibidunni Ituah Ighodalo
For a long time, the death of Ibidun Ighodalo, ex-beauty queen and wife of Pastor Itua Ighodalo, will keep resonating in the lives of many people she impacted.
In an interview with Channels Television during her life time, she narrated how she waited for the fruit of the womb after her marriage to no avail.
But the fact that she was waiting did not deter her from supporting women that had similar challenge.
She said, “The foundation to support women waiting for the fruit of the womb was born out of pain. When I got married I expected to start having children.
“But nothing was happening. Two years went by and I began to get worried. My husband said to me that we have to wait on the Lord. He said what God would not do, let it not be done.. But as a woman I began to get worried and did all I could within medical limits but nothing happened.”
She said the period of her waiting was quite traumatic. “When you are waiting on God, things people do just get at you. When you see those who were your mates in marriage having children and talking about school runs of their children, it makes you also want to have your own children. Your husband is your friend, but somehow you feel that you also need the company of children.”
She said in the process of looking for the fruit of the womb she went through In vitro fertilization IVF for 11 times. “After going through IVF for 11 times it got to a point that I said enough. I said I was not going to do it again. I remember waking up on one of my birthdays and praying and making my request before God. It was during my birthday that the Lord spoke to me that, while waiting for the fruit of the womb I should begin to help mothers that are waiting.
“The moment I heard that I felt some inexplicable joy. I felt light and I felt fulfilled. I felt this was why I was born. My life was playing before me. I said to God that, Lord I am trusting you in this journey. I prayed that every single couple that came my way would be blessed with the fruit of the womb.”
That was the game changer. She set out to do the Lord’s will and things began to happen. She said the Lord raised a couple to help with support for one of the waiting mothers that applied for help through the foundation and the result was a set of twins. She was so overwhelmed with the result that she literally forgot that she was also waiting for a child.
There was a time the foundation according to her got about 2720 applications from couples who needed help for IVF.
She said she was trusting God that help would come for them. The glow on her face during the interview clearly showed that she was a fulfilled woman whose joy is derived from wiping the tears of others. Indeed, she has left her footprints on the sand of time.
Ibidun Ighodalo Reveals, “I Don’t Want To Celebrate My 40th Birthday In July”
By July 19, she would have been 40 years old.
For someone who had organised high-octane events in Nigeria and abroad, everyone would have thought that the CEO of Elizabeth R, Ibidunni Ituah-Ighodalo, a former beauty queen would paint the town red on her birthday.
As a matter of fact, her high-profile events planning company would have wowed guests with not only state-of-the-art décor but with so much to eat, drink and even mouth-watery souvenirs to take home.
However, she declared she would never have a birthday, at least not her 40th.
Her 39th birthday was a surprise thrown by her husband Pastor Ituah Ighodalo. A nice gathering of friends and family members, she was all tears at the show of love during the 2019 shindig.
But in 2020, it’s a no party season. Not because there is a lockdown directive from Governor Sanwo-Olu, no.
Ibidun just didn’t want a party.
Why wouldn’t she want to celebrate four decades?
“No party, no surprise nothing, I just want to make 40 homes happy,” she told her friend and personal photographer, TY Bello in a Whatsapp chat lately.
“Sweetie, its my 40th next month and I want to help 40 couples to have their babies. What do you think? That’s all I want.”
The Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation has brought laughter to thousands of couples by footing the bill for assisted reproduction through Invitro Fertilization (IVF).
You needed to have seen Ibidun’s countenance when one of the couples her foundation assisted, put to bed a set of twin girls.
An elated Ibidun took to Instagram to announce to all.
She wrote: “Martha Said to Jesus ” Lord if you had been there, you could have healed him, Lord you are 4 days late!! And all help is gone… Lord we don’t understand why you waited so long!!! But His way is Gods’ way … not yours or mine… and isn’t it great… when he is four days late… He’s still on Time !!!🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🤚🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼 the Twin girls are here!!!! Why am I preaching?
“Read caption below: 2920 days……8years plus over 170 needles/injections , various failed hospital attempts but 1 God. One God who has done it.
“28 couples,15 successful treatment, 5 confirmed pregnancies,1 successful delivery and 2 baby girls breathed their first breaths 7 days ago and IIF is proud to say their first set of twins have finally arrived. Months on waiting with bated breath. Months of encouragment. Months of let Downs. Months of false hopes but finally we have our testimonies. God is indeed God and He truly is the #OniseIyanu. The unquestionable God. Our magnificent father. We cannot but give Him all the praise due to Him for all He has done and continues to do through us and for us and with us. Join us as we welcome Oluwatomini and Oluwatonimi. Thank you also to Roding reproductive medical center @rodingivf #TwinGirls.”
The compassionate Ibidunni, wife of accountant and clergyman, Ituah Ighodalo, whose search for a child was widely publicised, was known to fund assisted-reproductive procedure for infertile couples, costing, at least, N1.3 million per couple.
There was a year the IIF held a hugely attended first Parent-in-Waiting Conference that accommodated heart-rending testimonies from couples who surmounted the hurdle of childlessness.
Different experts were also on hand to discourse matters relating to infertility; while medical teams offered free screening.
Then, there was the Baby’s Day Out.
This is another novelty that brought to manifestation the slogan of the IIF, ‘Touching Lives and Fulfilling Dreams’.
The Baby’s Day Out activities pointed at the IIF’s sustained efforts to bring fulfillment and happiness to couples.
The Baby’s Day Out was conceived as a platform to celebrate the birth of children from one day-old to one year-old by presenting gifts to mothers and babies at a party which always held in Ikorodu. Lagos.
As event planning was Ibidunni Ighodalo’s most visible occupation, the IIF created, during the December festive season, a perfect baby shower including themes, ideas, games and foods; which merged seamlessly into the Christmas festivity.
Following the Biblical tradition of Wise men from the East who brought gifts to Jesus Christ whose birth is being commemorated at Christmas, there was no restriction.
Tens of hundreds of babies and mothers would throng the venue between midday and 6.00pm to benefit from the IIF largesse which included mini furniture such as play table or rocking chair, toys, dolls, stuffed animals, picture books, keepsake boxes and cute clothing.
The cost of these items and the logistics of taking them to Ikorodu (venue of the event) run into tens of millions of Naira, which officials of the foundation refused to disclose.
The IIF statement does not discriminate on the social status of babies and mothers who can attend the event, suggesting that everyone is welcome.
That is the Ibidun we knew—always bringing laughter.
You came, you saw and conquered, Ibidun Ighodalo. Now rest gracefully and in peace, amen.