•As They Reveal Their Last Moments With Her
There is no doubt that late Ibidun Igbhodalo will surely be missed in Nigeria’s event planning industry as one of the pioneers of that sector and as a mentor to many of Nigeria’s A-list event planners.
Her event planning Firm Elizabeth R, is a leading event management company founded when she was in her 20s. Former beauty queen and philanthropist, late Ibidunni Ighodalo not only planned major events, but she was also able to live a life of purpose by mentoring many Nigeria event planners who can’t forget her in a hurry.
A few years ago, one of late Ibdiuduni Ighodalo’s Staff, Mr. Nurudeen Lawal revealed in an interview with Thisday that he spent over 11 years with Elizabeth R but he has gained a lot despite studying Applied Chemistry. He was supposed to work in the Nigerian arm of a global household cleaning product and consumer chemicals company where he served the mandatory one-year youth service. But an older brother thought otherwise and offered him a life-changing opportunity in a completely unrelated field. It is 11 years on and Nurudeen Lawal is forever grateful to the man who influenced the change in his career path. He also congratulated himself for the courage to chart a new course. The year was 2007 when he joined the Elizabeth R, one of Nigeria’s leading events management companies as Project Officer. Today, he is the General Manager, junior in service year only to his benefactor, Mr. Oseni and Mr. Bayo who joined the company before him.
Oseni worked devotedly with Mrs. Ibidunni Ighodalo, CEO of the company from inception in 2003; so it was easy for her to depend on his recommendation of Lawal. “Looking at the prospect I saw at Elizabeth R and the promise that it will make me know more people and move from one location to another unlike working for a company that you will just be repeating the same thing over and over, I decided to take the job,” Lawal said to the reporters at the company’s cosy headquarters on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi-Lagos.
“What kept me in Elizabeth R is the vision and the creativity of our boss. She doesn’t repeat the same thing. She imagines a lot and brings her imagination to life. That makes me want to be with her at all time,” Lawal said while explaining his sustained interest in events management. “From the way she trained me, I developed a passion for the industry in my first year.” Wasiu Ibrahim Alado, a driver who was employed in 2008 claimed to have learnt other skills at Elizabeth R. “I learnt decoration and how to buy and sell decorative items.” We were on the top floor in a growing arm of the company which focuses on bridal items like tiara, rings and gowns. This part of the Elizabeth R enterprise called Avant-Garde inspires Alado. “I have learnt how to sell wedding gowns. If I have the money, I know where to start from. I have learnt a lot from Elizabeth R and I would like to put the knowledge to work.”
Perhaps what is shocking about late Ibdiduni Igbodalo is that she keeps a very cordial relationship with all her former staff. She revealed this in an exclusive interview she granted Thisday newspaper many months ago. In her words “Already, there is a growing number of former employees of Elizabeth R who have set up shop and are doing very well. According to Ighodalo, they remain very close. She told the reporters, “It is as if they are still with us. The field is very big and there is enough jobs for everybody. There are jobs that we cannot take. I am happy to recommend them for it. They come to me for guidance.” There has never been a time when Ighodalo worried over the possibility of her former employees upstaging her. She attended training abroad to keep abreast of current trends in events management and decoration. The future she anticipated was not hers alone. She carried her staff along.
Elizabeth R is a company built on mutual respect and love. This configuration of reverence permeates all levels of relationship within the company-whether between staff and management or between the team and clients. Named after her father who she describes as her ‘first love’, the company is chaired by her husband, Ituah Ighodalo, an accountant and clergy. Intentionally, the clients, be they individuals, corporate bodies, MDAs or state governments are effectively given an experience of a lifetime. Her intention is to deliver a bespoke event all the time. In the past, the Elizabeth R signature was on the Redeemed Christian Church of God programmes. One of its most admired work in the public space is the year-end decoration of Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, which is made possible by Zenith Bank.
Just as the industry began to grow, we can tell you that late Ibdiun Igbodalo has the largest trainee or mentee who are products of Ibidun Igbodalo Event Company called “Elizabeth R. for many years.
Many of them were devastated a few days ago when her death broke. They all trooped out crying and saying how much she will surely be missed on Ovation Publisher, Bashorun Dele Momodu Live Show.
One of the big Event Planners who is one of those who trained under Ibdidun Igbodalo is beautiful and fair Bimbo Oladiran of Subtle Elegance. She is the brain behind Subtle Elegance in Lagos. The cool-headed big babe trained under Ibidun Ighodalo. She handles some of the Okoyas The Saros, Chief Mrs. Dupe Oguntade and many state governors jobs, under Governor Fayose to mention. Bimbo combines beauty with brain that one could mistake her for a half-caste. She is very fair. She is one of the big names who have stayed on top of her game in event decoration for over 7 years and still countings.
One popular Naija event planner who trained under Ibdiunni Igbodalo and who has carved a niche for herself is Kehinde Iyiola of Finesse Event. She has undoubtedly organized many major events that made headlines in the last 5 years. Kehinde Iyiola studied Law at the Lagos State University. After her Law education, she decided to follow her passion and started Finesse Events Services in 2008. She leads a team of skilled event managers and vendors to deliver exceptional events management and memorable experiences to individuals, organizations, and communities. Over the past decade since the inception of Finesse Events, Kehinde has led diverse teams to deliver over 1,000 events from weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, product launches and event shows all across major Nigeria cities. Finesse Events has grown rapidly by referrals which as landed the company high profile events to mention a few, the pre-inauguration party of Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos State Governor), the inauguration of Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo state Governor), the inauguration party ( Oyo State Governor), the coronation of Oba Saheed Elegushi, the birthday celebration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the birthday celebration of Chief Olu Okeowo, burial ceremony of Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), Bayelsa State governments events, Teju Babyface wedding and Tv shows, Seyi Makinde’s 50th Birthday, GTB AGM, Niger Delta Refinery AGM, and several wedding ceremonies and other events. Kehinde is a founding member of Nigeria’s leading event management body APPOEMN (Association of Professional Party Planners and Event Managers of Nigeria).
During her tributes on Bashorun Dele Momodus Instagram page, she revealed that she saw late Ibidun Igbodalo at Mrs. Bola Okolie 50th birthday and they chatted freely for many hours.
She also revealed that they also spoke about many other things which were basically about event planning and she also prayed for her”.
Do you know that Bolanle Fakotade of B signature Event also learnt under Ibidun Ighodalo? She is the Head Planner at B’Signature Events and Head Venue Stylist at Decor by B’Signature. The graduate of English from the University of Lagos has been planning events for over 10 years and still counting. Bolanle Fakotade is responsible for all creative operations for B Signature Client accounts including staff supervision and work production. She directs the activities of the team to maintain the agency’s standards of creative excellence, timeliness, and profitability while achieving the clients’ goals. She resolves functional conflicts through consultation with various vendors.
Have you heard about Dupe Sofola? She is also one of the inters from Ibidunni Elizabeth R event company. She is the brain behind Cereme Event.
There is no one who doesn’t know Pholard Event in Lagos. Her name is Shade Kolade-Ogunpitan. The Founder of Pholard Events Limited. She is a Mentee with two event planning companies in Nigeria. They are Elizabeth R. which is owned by late Mrs. Ibidunni Ituah Ighodalo and Zapphaire Events which is owned by Mrs. Funke Buknor Obruthe. Pholard Events is an Event Planning, Event Management and Consultancy Firm. She invests in every event and believes all events are not the same. She has done many A-list events including Chief Kesington Adebutu’s Events among many others. In her glowing tributes on Dele Momodus page, she revealed her last encounter with Ibidunni. She explained that that was Saturday, a week before her death. She explained that they met at a floor where most people came to do shopping. She revealed that she saw Mrs. Ibidun at Mrs. Okolie’s stand where they all stood to chat. She said they greeted while she prayed for her and all. She said Ibidunni will surely be missed in the industry.
Bisoye of Balleevents needs little or introduction. Abisoye Daniel plans weddings and corporate events in a unique way that suits her clients desired state. She is a Mentee under Ibidun Igbodalo’s Elizabeth R Firm. She is also one of the big brands too in Nigeria event sector and she trained under Ibidun Igbodalo.
Bisi of Busybeeevents and Turayo Osoba of Tmakrsevents are also a product of late Ibiduni Igbhodalo Event Firm. Bisi Sotunde is the brain behind Busybeeevents. Bisi Sotunde once granted an interview with Punch Newspaper where she revealed that she stumbled into the events industry by accident. Her words “I got into the industry in my final year in the university while working as a hostess/usher. That opened my eyes to the opportunities in the industry. When I graduated, I interned with Ibidun Ighodalo’s Elizabeth R Events. After NYSC, employment wasn’t forthcoming, so I decided to market my events planning skills, and shortly after, I got my first paid job to provide ushers for a wedding. Over the years, we have grown to not just planning weddings, but corporate events as well she explained. So also is Turayo Osoba, the brain behind Tmakrsevents.
– Abiola Orisile