Fun, Frills and Two Books as Es­ther Lambo Hits 70


For­mer Minister of Health, Pro­fes­sor Ey­i­tayo Lambo and his wife, Es­ther, run a home that best ex­em­pli­fies the Chris­tian stan­dards of a mar­riage where the hus­band leads the wife and their chil­dren in love and the wife sub­mits to­tally to the hus­band. Al­though they have been mar­ried for over 47 years, their home is like that of young teenagers fall­ing in love with each other for the first time.

It is not sur­pris­ing there­fore that the Lam­bos are lead­ing mar­riage coun­selors at the Fam­ily Wor­ship Cen­tre, their church in Abuja and they would read­ily in­form you that they de­rive great plea­sure watch­ing mar­riages grow in form and in con­tent. To them, the only way the so­ci­ety can truly flour­ish is for the in­di­vid­ual homes to be es­tab­lished on a solid foun­da­tion of love.

Pro­fes­sor Lambo spares no words in ex­press­ing how blessed he feels to have Es­ther, a doc­tor of phi­los­o­phy (PhD) in her own right as his wife and the mother of their four suc­cess­ful chil­dren. In Bask­ing in God’s Favour, his aca­demic au­to­bi­og­ra­phy pub­lished in 2014, he says of her:

“She has been very sup­port­ive of my in­ter­ests from the begin­ning of our mar­riage to date. I would nor­mally con­sult her to find out her opin­ion about most of the things that I would like to do and she knows that I value her opin­ion very much. She has al­ways demon­strated deep un­der­stand­ing of me and my per­son­al­ity – al­ways fo­cus­ing more on my strengths than my weak­nesses. She has adapted very well to all as­pects of my lifestyle she can­not change, and I ap­pre­ci­ate that.”

Satur­day, Novem­ber 24, 2018 of­fered a most aus­pi­cious op­por­tu­nity for Lambo and mem­bers of his clan (as he of­ten refers to his fam­ily) to put on pub­lic dis­play that ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the decades of love, care and at­ten­tion that their ma­tri­arch had given them. Mrs. Es­ther Olu­fun­mi­layo Lambo had turned 70 on Septem­ber 23, 2018 but the birth­day cel­e­bra­tions had to be put for­ward be­cause the cel­e­brant and her hus­band were away in the United States and in the United King­dom.

As with the other times he had put the Lambo brand on pub­lic dis­play, the for­mer Minister did not leave out any de­tail in the plan­ning of the birth­day event. More than six weeks ahead of the day, he had sent out the ini­tial mes­sages to his friends, re­la­tions, as­so­ciates, mentees and other per­son­al­i­ties to put them on no­tice about the event. The mes­sages were sub­se­quently fol­lowed by up­dates at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

The ul­tra-mod­ern new event hall of Chida Ho­tel, Jabi, Abuja, was the venue and as early as 9am, per­son­al­i­ties had started ar­riv­ing at the venue for the event slated to com­mence an hour later. There was hardly enough space in the hall to ac­com­mo­date the large num­ber of in­vi­tees from the var­i­ous groups to which the Lambo are af­fil­i­aed.

When the event was flagged off at ex­actly 10am, serv­ing and for­mer Min­is­ters were there in enough num­bers to hold a mini ses­sion of the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil, should they have cho­sen to. Apart from Lambo him­self, a prom­i­nent mem­ber of the Obasanjo cab­i­net, there were three of his suc­ces­sors in the Fed­eral Min­istry of Health, in­clud­ing Pro­fes­sor Onye­buchi Chukwu as well as the cur­rent Minister, Pro­fes­sor Isaac Ade­wole and the Minister of State, Dr. Ehosa Ehanire. Other for­mer Min­is­ters present were Chief Cor­nelius Ade­bayo (Com­mu­ni­ca­tions), Chief Bayo Ojo (At­tor­ney-Gen­eral), Pro­fes­sor Tunde Adeni­ran (Ed­u­ca­tion), Mr. Solomon Ewuga (FCT) and Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe (Wa­ter Re­sources), Dr. Row­land Orit­se­jafor (De­fence) and a for­mer In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice, Mr. Sun­day Ehin­dero. For­mer Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Mr. Lawrence Alobi, Pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian Labour Congress (NLC), Com­rade Ayuba Wabba and Pro­fes­sor Lovett Law­son of Zankli Hos­pi­tal, Abuja were also on hand to hon­our the Lam­bos.

As if tak­ing a cue from their Min­is­ters, staff of the Fed­eral Min­istry of Health also turned up in hordes and across their cadres, so much so that had the event taken place on a work­ing day and a health emer­gency had de­vel­oped, it would have been dif­fi­cult to con­tain it as vir­tu­ally all who mat­tered in the Min­istry were out with the Lam­bos. Mem­bers of the Okun Think Thank, the re­search and pol­icy arm of the Okun Devel­op­men As­so­ci­a­tion and of which Lambo is the Con­vener were led to the event by their Deputy Con­vener, Ma­jor Gen­eral Julius Oshanupin (rtd), a for­mer Gen­eral Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing, 3 Ar­moured Divi­sion, Nige­rian Army.

The event kicked off with the open­ing re­marks of the Chair­man of the Day, Chief Bayo Ojo, who said Mrs. Lambo, re­splen­dent in a blue lace ma­te­rial, had demon­strated that in­deed life be­gan at 70 and not 40 as is of­ten put in pop­u­lar par­lance. He de­scribed the cel­e­brant as a du­ti­ful wife and mother as well as an ac­com­plished and dis­tin­guished per­son­al­ity in her own right. He as­sured Mrs. Lambo, that many good things were still ahead of her.

The masters of cer­e­mony, quite pro­fes­sional in their han­dling of the show, en­sured that there was no dull mo­ment and that the event moved with the clockwork pre­ci­sion. For­mer school­mates of Mrs. Lambo at St. Anne’s School, Ibadan, were next on stage to hon­our a fel­low old girl. The women, who are now suc­cess­ful moth­ers and grand­moth­ers, stood out in their colour­ful head gear as they were joined by Mrs. Lambo to sing their school an­them. Led by their Pres­i­dent and a for­mer Di­rec­tor in the Min­istry of De­fence, Mrs. Kemi Wil­liams, the women moved the au­di­ence with the word­ings of the song. Mrs. Wil­liams, who stressed the godly her­itage they took away from St. Anne’s asked the au­di­ence to forgive them for their croaky voices with the ex­pla­na­tion that they had over the years given some of their once sonorous voices to their hus­bands, chil­dren and grand chil­dren

The Lam­bos are very proud of their church, Fam­ily Wor­ship Cen­tre, Abuja. It was not sur­pris­ing there­fore that it was the Co­Founder and Se­nior Pas­tor of the Church, Pas­tor Sarah Omaku who was called upon to pray for the cel­e­brant. Af­ter lead­ing the gath­er­ing through a ses­sion of praise, wor­ship and thanks­giv­ing, Omaku told Mrs. Lambo that God was will­ing to an­swer any prayer she of­fered on that oc­ca­sion. She there­fore gave her the mi­cro­phone and asked her to make what­ever re­quest she de­sired from God. With­out hes­i­ta­tion, Mrs. Lambo said there was noth­ing she wanted that God had not given her and rather asked that the joy, grace and di­vine favour she and her fam­ily had en­joyed would be ex­tended to all those who had gath­ered at the venue to hon­our her.

To mark the oc­ca­sion, two books writ­ten by the Lam­bos were pre­sented. First was Mrs. Lambo’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy – Shad­ows and Rain­bows, a fol­low up to an ear­lier one, Es­tam­bai, which was pub­lished in 2002 and which dwelt largely on her child­hood years. The book was pre­sented by for­mer Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Minister, Chief Cor­nelius Ade­bayo. In his re­view, Dr. Noel Ihe­bu­zor who su­per­vised Mrs. Lambo’s doc­toral the­sis at the Univer­sity of Ilorin said al­though an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy was a genre no­to­ri­ous for false­hoods and self-praise, Mrs. Lambo’s book was re­mark­ably a bal­anced ac­count of a life that God had blessed, full of facts and with its ups and downs. Dr. Ihe­bu­zor noted that Mrs. Lambo in the book re­vealed some in­con­ve­nient truths. He said the de­sire for the truth ran through the en­tire book which he said re­sulted in a bal­ance and en­gag­ing ac­count, bereft of the temp­ta­tions usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with bi­ogra­phies.

Pro­fes­sor Lambo’s book Proac­tive Com­mit­ment to Pur­pose­ful Liv­ing: A Per­son­alised Prac­ti­cal Guide­book, writ­ten in hon­our of his wife, was also pre­sented to the pub­lic on the oc­ca­sion. The book is the first in the Frank & Re­becca Lambo Me­mo­rial Se­ries on Pur­pose­ful Liv­ing. In ded­i­cat­ing the new book to his wife, the writer praised her for hav­ing spent al­most 70 per cent of her years on earth with him, as a de­pend­able wife, partner, friend, con­fi­dant, “as well as my very ef­fec­tive Chief of Staff!” Pro­fes­sor Lambo also ac­knowl­edged her for - port, par­tic­u­larly on oc­ca­sions when the chal­lenges of life al­most weighed him down

fear­ing adult chil­dren,” par­tic­u­larly when they were in their for­ma­tive years and he was not al­ways around

con­sid­ered as his strengths and down play­ing his weak­nesses

that made all of them in the fam­ily to not just sur­vive but to thrive and flour­ish as they con­tinue to ful­fill God’s pur­pose for their lives.

The book was to have been pre­sented by Lambo’s for­mer teacher and men­tor, Pro­fes­sor Em­manuel Edozien who could not make it to the event but sent a mov­ing and well writ­ten ad­dress, which was elo­quently de­liv­ered by Lambo’s aca­demic col­league and close friend at the Univer­sity of Ibadan, Pro­fes­sor Tunde Adeni­ran.

The book pro­vides de­tails of God’s gen­eral and spe­cific pur­poses for life, how an in­di­vid­ual can plan ev­ery area of his or her life as well as how to set both short term and long term goals and how to achieve them.

Per­haps the most solemn point in the cer­e­mony was when the mi­cro­phone was passed to Lambo’s daugh­ter, Ke­hinde, who took the au­di­ence through her life threat­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with an ail­ment and how, al­though some of the doc­tor’s worst fears were con­firmed, God stepped in and de­liv­ered her. Al­though still re­cu­per­at­ing from a ma­jor med­i­cal pro­ce­dure, Ke­hinde had waived aside all pres­sures to make the jour­ney home from the United King­dom and share in her mother’s joy and have the op­por­tu­nity to share her tes­ti­mony of God’s faith­ful­ness and mercy.

Al­though the Masters of Cer­e­mony may not have taken sides with Ke­hinde who in­sisted she was older than her twin brother Taiye, she got the chance to speak be­fore him. So, when Taiye had his chance on the podium to ren­der the vote of thanks, he has­tened to re­mind the au­di­ence that he emerged first from the womb and so was the more el­derly. That drew a loud ap­plause from the au­di­ence.

Hav­ing se­cured the at­ten­tion of the au­di­ence, Taiye made it known that danc­ing was not one of his favourable hob­bies but that he had to make some move­ments to the good mu­sic that flowed at the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, Abuja, four years ago when Pro­fes­sor Lambo turned 70. Just as he said that, the band be­gan to dish out ir­re­sistible mu­sic and Taiye had no choice but sway his frame to the vi­bra­tions from the mu­sic stand. Quickly, his mother joined him, fol­lowed by his fa­ther. Within min­utes, the dance floor was filled with dig­ni­taries who danced as if do­ing so was soon go­ing to be out of fash­ion. It was in­deed a glo­ri­ous way for the au­di­ence to share the joy with the Lam­bos for Mummy Lambo who, 56 years ago, ac­cord­ing to her bo­som friend and class­mate, Mrs. Titi Laoye-To­mori, im­me­di­ate past deputy gover­nor of Osun State, had only but­tered Cabin bis­cuits to share with friends on her 14th birth­day.

Health Minister, Pro­fes­sor Isaac Ade­wole (left) con­duct­ing the cut­ting of the birth­day cake for Dr (Mrs.) Es­ther Lambo, as­sisted by her hus­band, Pro­fes­sor Ey­i­tayo Lambo

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