Ibidunni Ighodalo laid to rest amidst tears

Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and his children Kaka and Zenia at the burial wife and mother Lata Ibidun Ajayi-Ighodalo at Ebony Vault, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Saturday

The remains of Ibidunni Ighodalo, a former beauty queen and late wife of the Lagos-based preacher and founder of Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, was laid to rest yesterday afternoon amidst tears.

Aged 39, she died on Sunday June 15, “of suspected cardiac arrest while in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, where she had gone to work.”

Dignitaries that attended the funeral service, aired live via the church’s social media platforms and monitored in Lagos, included Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, representative of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and Pastor Idowu Oluyomade, the Personal Assistant to the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

It would be recalled that Adeboye had earlier said the late businesswoman “is in a better place.”

He wrote on his Facebook: “Hearing the news of Ibidunni Ighodalo’s demise was really saddening but I know that she is in a better place right now. I pray that the Almighty himself will comfort the family of Pastor Ituah Ighodalo in Jesus name”.

The Essential Ibidun
Had death tarried, Ibidun would have turned 40 in July. In a Whatsapp message she sent to her friend, the celebrity photographer, TY Bello, Ibidun disclosed that to celebrate the landmark birthday, she planned to ‘make 40 homes happy.’ TY added a footnote: “This is who she was … this was what she had on her mind. She never forgot others going through the pain of waiting. Even at the very end.” Ibidun is survived by her husband and adopted twins, her mother, siblings, and millions of associates, mentees, and beneficiaries of her large heart.

Ibidun was everybody’s darling; cheerful, lively, enterprising, beautiful, and prayerful. The outpouring of testimonials and tributes underscores her impact on many people.

Born on July 19, 1980, in Ibadan, Oyo State, to the late Olaleye Ajayi family, she studied Microbiology at the University of Lagos, Akoka, before getting further training in Business Management from the Lagos Business School. It was as an undergraduate that she won the maiden Lux Beauty Pageant. The organizer of the pageant, Ehi Braimah, in a tribute, said that during her reign as a beauty queen, Ibidun made life easy for everyone. She did not carry unnecessary airs while her conduct and attitude showed great promise. Braimah said that the virtues she evinced effortlessly were a reflection of her graciousness, strong family values and humility.

She added, “Ibidun was beautiful, soft-spoken, humble, respectful, diligent, talented and friendly. She had a generous spirit and inspired young people who saw her as a role model; they wanted to be like her. From the outpouring of tributes in some blogs to honour Ibidun, even those who were not close to her admired her strength of character, creativity, philanthropy and entrepreneurship.”

Her Business Empire
Despite initial ambivalence about what career path to take, Ibidun, a Microbiology graduate of the University of Lagos and fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), established Elizabeth R, an events management company, in 2003 to create exceptional events as opposed to the everyday ordinary event. Within a decade, the outfit had built a reputation for delivering indelible events and experiences while emerging as one of the best events companies in Nigeria with a roll-call of high-profile clients like state governments and foremost banks and multinationals.

Ovation magazine publisher, Chief Dele Momodu wrote, “Ibidunni loved to take on and achieve mega projects. Her proclivity for spectacular ventures made her one of the hardest working and remarkably successful women in Africa. Her company, ELIZABETH R, was a leading conglomerate in Events planning, Decoration, Rentals, Construction of Marquees, and Equipment Supplies… She was passionate and daring… Her beautification of Lagos during the Christmas seasons was legendary. She worked feverishly to light up Lagos and turned the streets to a Dubai in the works.”
She was working on the COVID-19 Isolation Center in Port Harcourt like she had done in Lagos and several other states when death came calling.

The Infertility Journey And Her Foundation
Ibidun got married in 2007 to Pastor Ighodalo, a successful accountant turned cleric. For several years, however, they had no child. She stated in a dated interview, “Like any newly married couple, my husband and I looked forward to starting our family and holding our children in our arms. You can imagine our dismay when after getting married in 2007, we watched the years roll by without a child of our own. After several doctors’ appointments, we were told that we wouldn’t have children unless we sought treatment through assisted reproduction.”

She had added, “This was the doctor’s report we received, but we choose to believe God’s own report, unshaken in our faith as we firmly believe that that we will have our children. This period of delay also came with pressure and a lot of insensitivity from people to our situation. I also had to deal with the emotions, pain, and the roller-coaster hormonal imbalance that comes with all sorts of treatments. Thankfully, I am married to an amazing man who has been there for me through all the procedures; unflinching in his support.”
In 2018, while celebrating the 11th anniversary of her marriage, Ibidun confessed that she had done IVF 11 times and it failed every time. She resorted to adopting a set of twins when the last IVF she did was initially successful but had a miscarriage at three months. Scans had shown that she was carrying twins. The infertility experience also led her to start her foundation designed to “bring joy to the hearts of couples through their fertility journey by providing grants for women to pay for IVF treatments and help reduce the stigma around infertility in Nigeria.”

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