Senior Pastor of the Trinity House Church, Ituah Ighodalo has revealed plans on how they intend to immortalize his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Olajumoke Ibidunni Ighodalo, nee Ajayi who died 33 days to her 40th birthday in her hotel room in Port Harcourt on Sunday, June 14, prompting shock and sadness in many parts of the country.
The plans, apart from the 40 at 40 philanthropic gesture initiated by her to assist 40 couples with In vitro fertilization (IVF)—-a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child—-include the establishment of a motherless babies home in her memory among several others..
Speaking in a radio interview last Saturday, Pastor Ighodalo who has weathered the storm since June 14, raising their two little children without their mother with a heavy heart but with an amazing philosophical calmness, told his interviewer, Jimi Disu that God told him not to feel sorry for himself, “don’t attract pity to yourself. This is not a situation of pity, but that of response.
“Absolve what has happened, calm down and then respond. Make sure you are an encouragement to others. You must lift up the spirit of people who come to see you. And that is what I have focused on doing and letting people know that God was still God and was still in charge. God doesn’t make a mistake and knows what He’s doing. If God permitted this, there must be something He wants to tell us,” Pastor Ighodalo said in response to Jimi Disu’s question as to how he’s been coping with bereavement.
Apparently shaken by those words and the pastor’s carriage since the demise, the anchorman of “The Discourse with Jimi Disu”, this time on Nigeria Info 93.3 FM could not hide his emotions when he informed his guest that his testimony has actually brought a lot of transformation to him, because “I couldn’t have done it. I thank God for your life that He has also used you as an example to a lot many pastors who don’t even know life.
How are you coping now, was the obvious next question and his guest took a deep breath before saying: “I take one day at a time. I take one hour at a time. I am not thinking too deep into the future, I am for the moment, mourning my wife. Internalicing what has happened and trying to do everything that I can do to make her happy; and trying to readjust my life, my mind and the children. So I take it one step at a time.”
Quite naturally, the interviewer would want an explanation on the “I want to make her happy” stuff, “do you believe that when a person dies the spirit hovers around to see things that are happening around him or her? Have you had anything to suggest that your late wife has paid a visit around or is it a Christian belief that the spirit of those who die are still hovering around?
To that the pastor said: “I believe absolutely that her spirit has gone to Heaven and in that manifestation of going to Heaven they have a feel of everything and they see what’s going on. I believe that everything I have done and everything I am going to do, will make her happy. She left very clear instructions even though she didn’t really know she was going die. She said, first of all she wanted this 40 by 40 thing done. Secondly, she and I have been together for at least 13 years, so I knew exactly what she wanted and what she liked and how she liked things done. We had conversations, so I know how she thought, I know who her real friends were….”
Continuing with the discourse, Pastor Ituah, as his admirers prefer to call him, his late wife had told him late last year when she was asked to name her preference for her 40th birthday on July 19, “which incidentally is my brother’s birthday as well as my daughter’s, and I thought she was going tell me let’s do something about destination. She then said to me she didn’t want anything. She wanted a quiet celebration but it was her desire to ensure she could provide IVF for 40 couples that needed it but couldn’t afford it.
“For the past eight or nine years we have been helping people with assisted fertilization. And even those who had not been able to give birth physically we helped them with adoption,” he continued until Mr. Disu interrupted to ask why the passion for IVF? Was she a doctor?
‘No, she wasn’t a doctor’, the pastor said, stressing “but the simple story which is public knowledge was that we tried IVF 11 times without success and because she had been through that, she understood the trauma, pain and most importantly the disappointment of it being unsuccessful. We went to almost everywhere in the world seeking assistance where she met several women who had tried a few times also and had run out of money and could no longer afford it. Because IVF is not an inexpensive venture. The average IVF costs about N2 million, sometimes N3 million; sometimes if you negotiate very well you can get it at N1.5 million depending on the doctor. On the average, it costs N2 million.”
Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and wife
Are you going to raise money for this venture which is running into about N120 million?
That’s what we are doing right now, Ighodalo confirmed, “in fairness to her, she had in 2016, started the Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation (IIF), a non-profit organization created to raise awareness on issues pertaining to infertility and to provide grants for couples that require fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination. The focus primarily in assisting mothers with their babies, so they have something for the Babies Day once a year where we pack a lot of food, condiments, things that a mother would need for her baby. We try to do that for about 500 to 2,000 babies and she visited the hospitals regularly and gave things to mothers who just gave births and from time to time pay their hospital bills, because you will be surprised that hospitals, even government hospitals, people can’t pay bills as little as N10,000.
Picking the 40 benefiting couples
“My wife had absolute criteria. The criteria include: you must show that you don’t have the means to pay for the procedure and you must show capacity to take care of the child.
Secondly, you must be married for at least, five years. We want the lady to be below 50 years. When you are above 50, the risks are a little bit higher.
We are also looking at those who have been married for a longer time, even if it’s more than five years. Already, we have almost 1,000 applications.
Other things being put in place to immortalize my wife …
A couple of people have been so kind and generous. A friend called me and said “let’s set up an isolation Centre in her name. So we are talking to one of the local governments in Lagos and they are trying to find us space and he’s trying to raise the money to do that and said the facility will now transit into a Mother and Child facility also in her name because he knows that was her passion.
The primary school, Kay Kotun Memorial School, that she attended in Surulere has decided to name a Hall in her name. . I am sure there will be a Mother and Child Care and a motherless babies home in her name.
Are you going to remarry, Jimi Disu posed. “that’s a tough one. It’s definitely not on the card at this point in time.”
How would you cope alone for the rest of your life?
“God has to help me. Even before I married I was without partner for about 10 years. So it’s not an unfamiliar street for me. I am sold out to God. I am committed to my wife’s memory. I don’t know what the future would hold but definitely remarriage is not on the card,” he said without a tinge of anger even when his host persisted with how he was going cope with the numerous female sympathizers most of whom have ulterior motives.
You won’t be under pressure?
“Well, maybe I have walked that road before and God has given me the grace. I want to look after my children and I want to please my wife. I have thrown myself in the church. My wife did the same with me but what it will mean is that I will be physically walking that path alone for the time being and that is perfectly alright by me. I will just serve God and fulfill my purpose,” the charming and urbane pastor surmised.
Asked to comment on a popular notion that the former APC national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole is the major problem of Edo State politics, he said candidly: “Comrade Oshiomhole is fighting for his own political relevance. He feels that Gov. Godwin Obaseki is obligated to him, having helped and assisted Obaseki to become governor….” Disu interjected that Obaseki was part of some Edo professionals in Lagos who came together to support Oshiomhole to run, first, to become governor.
Reacting to that, Ighodalo said to some extent, arguing that when Oshiomhole decided to run, he didn’t consult Mr. Obaseki as such, but the latter decided to volunteer to help the ex-NLC President with economic blueprint, running around raising money, encouraging him and so on and so forth.
“Even Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu also said in public fora that he was one of the persons who encouraged and supported Oshiomhole to become governor. Nonetheless, Oshiomhole became governor and I have known the relationship between Gov. Obaseki and Oshiomhole since that time. Obaseki left everything he was doing in Lagos where he was running a very successful financial institution but he wanted to really support Edo State, Comrade Oshiomhole with an economic blueprint.
When Jimi Disu sought to correct the impression that Obaseki, it was that helped Mr. Oshiomhole first to become governor when he mobilized his friends to raise money for his initial campaigns, Pastor Ighodalo said he was aware that the ex-APC chairman didn’t consult the current governor as such, saying Obaseki decided to help.
According to him, some Edo Professionals in Lagos were running around, raising monies to help his campaign, stressing that even Pastor Ize-Iyamu had alluded to that fact, saying that he was one of such persons who threw their weight behind Oshiomhole’s candidacy then.
“Nonetheless, Oshiomhole became governor and Obaseki left everything he was doing in Lagos where he was running a very good financial institution because he wanted to support, first and foremost, Edo State, and secondly Oshiomhole with an economic plan and economic blueprint.
“They set up an economic team with my brother, Asue Ighodalo, as a major member of the team, and I know they would go to Benin for days and nights at their own expense holding meetings on how to prepare the grounds for the success of that administration,” he said reminding Nigerians that even Oshiomhole had acknowledged that Obaseki didn’t cost him any money, but instead raised money for him.
When asked what he thought the outcome of the September 19, would be, he said: “I think he (Gov. Obaseki) stands a good chance of winning the election.”
According to him, the governor has worked hard in the state, “the educational system has gone up with everybody electronic now. The young children are doing very well and their parents are very happy and the residents have given him a name, ‘wake and see governor’.
“He did a lot of roads and infrastructure. He built secretariats that had been abandoned. He is trying to wake up a lot of things even industries and some other sectors,” the pastor noted.
Asked to comment on the assertion that the former national chairman of the ruling party, APC, Adams Oshiomhole is the major problem in Edo State politics, Pastor Ighodalo had this to say: “Oshiomhole is fighting for his own political relevance and he feels that Mr. Obaseki is obligated to him, having helped him (Obaseki) to become governor.”
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