Always full of comforting words and offering advice, for many, Ibidun Ighodalo’s death is surreal. Scores of tribute have been pouring in from family, friends and well-wishers across the country, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu
As at the time Ibidun Ighodalo left Lagos for Port Harcourt on Friday June 12 for work, nothing signaled her husband and close family members that were around that she had bided them eternal goodbye. In fact, her last post was captured filled of emotion of herself and her husband, where she talked about how difficult it was for her to let him leave, even as she was the one who was mostly on the road.In the video, the famous event planner and wife of Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, founder of The Trinity House Church, Lagos, who breathed her last in the early hours of last Sunday morning in Port Harcourt, was seen hugging her husband as the duo exchanged romantic gestures while the clergyman teased his wife about domestic violence.
That sweet moment that turned out to be her last with husband she captioned thus: “Always so hard to say good bye to my Popino. Love you too much baby. See you soon. . .” On receiving the news of her death, her husband, in a solemn mood, described it as an incident that shattered his life.
“And of course a lot of you know that I really shouldn’t be here but that’s how life is . . . 2 o clock this morning I received a call that shattered my life. But life must go on and here we are today,” he said while officiating the funeral of Biola Okoya’s son, Deji, shortly after the news was confirmed. He said if anyone had told him a day before that this is how today would be, he would have said it was not possible. “But this is how life is; life is nothing…”
Ibidun’s life was of selfless service to humanity. A seasoned event planner, until her death, she ran the famed events company, Elizabeth R and had been traveling around the country setting up isolation centres for COVID-19 patients. She was reported to have passed on after a brief illness. Immediate suspicion was that she died of cardiac arrest in her hotel room in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Always full of comforting words and offering advice, for many her death is surreal. Scores of tribute have been pouring in from family, friends and well-wishers across the country. Former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili, tweeted: “Life! Ibidun Ighodalo? Just gone…like a candle in the wind. May God comfort our very dear Pastor Ituah and rest of family in the way that only He can in Jesus name.”
Kemi Adetiba wrote on her Instagram page: “This makes no sense; absolutely none. The last conversation we had was her agreeing to feature in the second season of the King Women series. I had spoken to her previously about it, and she said… Let me pray about it. 12 days later, on her own, she sends me a ‘Whenever you’re ready, I’m ready.’ . . . She went on to explain that she wanted to share moments of her life many hadn’t seen, heard or properly understood. Tall mountains she silently had to climb. She wanted to share in order to encourage others. You couldn’t have met a classier, quiet, positive, demure woman like her. Rest in power, and eternal beauty!!!”
To entrepreneur and author, Arese, “R.I.P Ibidun… you were always so kind to me but what I will always remember is your strength of character… how even in your pain you made it your mission to help others… you touched countless lives in such a meaningful way and that is your legacy… I’m thankful we got to see you fall in love and love so deeply… I don’t know what God wants from us. We lost a good one.”
In his tribute, television presenter and broadcaster, Suleiman Aledeh wrote: “Ibidun Ighodalo was always there to help when I’m rallying for funds for people. I am sad you’d say ‘I don’t want anyone to know,’ now the world knows. We just lost an Angel. Singer and songwriter, Waje in her tribute recalled an encounter with the late Ibidun. “Late last year, we were both on our way to Abuja, sat together and gisted the whole trip. After talking for a while she asked me a question, I can’t tell you what it is but I was honest and replied her with the truth, her response was to be what I want. I’m so shocked and hurt but I know for certain that she changed lives, impacted families, Gods angel.”
Speaking after his visit to the family, Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “I was shocked when I received the news that my friend, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo had lost his wife and partner, Mrs. Ibidun Ighodalo. Mrs. Ibidun Ighodalo was an inspiration to many. I pray for strength for Pastor Ituah, their children, loved ones, and the many she has touched.”
As a socialite, Ibidun was famed for occasionally gifting packages and cash prizes to Nigerians while running an NGO created to raise awareness on issues pertaining to infertility. She was the founder of Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation (IIF), set up to provide grants for couples that require fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination.
In 2018, she had opened up on going through multiple IVF procedures, the social pressure that accompanied her fertility journey and her quest to find happiness, all of which she said birthed her foundation. First known as Ibidun Ajayi, she first emerged on the social scene when she won the Miss Lux beauty pageant competition in 1998 as an 18-year-oldundergraduate of the University of Lagos. She married Pastor Ighodalo in 2007.
The couple, however, struggled with infertility and the arising pressures that come with it. Hearkening to call from God led them to adopt two children, Keke and Zenan.
Before then, she had made up her mind to stop worrying over childbearing and to just keep trusting God while helping other couples through their own fertility journey. “I made a covenant with God and told Him that I would leave it completely in His hands,” she said in a personal note posted to the Foundation’s website.
“In the interim, as we wait for our miracle, I would help couples going through the same challenges by providing spiritual, financial and psychological support. I was ready to do my part to get rid of the stigma attached to childlessness. I wanted people to instead see couples-in-waiting as blessed mothers and fathers of nations!” As she prayed and mulled over the idea, she felt peace and that was how her charity organisation, the Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation was born.
She said on a television interview few years back: “It gets to a point where you just really want children. You want company. I mean your husband is your friend, he’s your best friend, but you guys go to work together. You guys come back. After a while, you want to plan a family. You just want people. You want kids around you . . . I just woke up one morning on my birthday and had a conversation with God. I said to Him, ‘you know what, I am not doing this IVF again. How you’re going to do it, I don’t know, but I’m trusting you. And I heard, ‘In the meantime, just help as many people as you can.’” The former beauty queen, Ibidun was to mark her 40th birthday on July 19, 2020.
An occasion she had planned to make 40 families happy by helping them have their babies through her Foundation. She revealed this in a message she sent to her friend. “Sweetie it’s my birthday next month and I want to help 40 couples to have their babies. . . That’s all I want. No party. No surprise nothing. I just want to make 40 homes happy.”