As Olu Benson Lulu Briggs turns 88 today
History is only what we record. Whatever the era, whether amid peace or conflict, there will always be someone with a camera or a pen, making true record of events. Bearing witness to life’s events. A crucial piece of the background here is no less a personality than the legendary nationalist and philanthropist, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs who turns 88 years old today.
Every year, the family of the successful businessman chooses his birthday to celebrate the mercy , goodness and kindness of God on them. This is not a surprise to most associates, well-wishers, contemporaries and the people of the Lulu Briggs ancestry in Kalabari. They converge on the Chapel of God International Worship Centre, Port Harcourt yearly to celebrate the life of a man who has sealed his status as a community leader, global businessman, philanthropist, humanist, caring and dotting family man and nationalist par excellence.
This year, the celebration is not going to be any different from the spectacular ones held in the past but the family had assured that “all the glory must go to God for keeping our father healthy and strong in the past few years.”It won’t also stop at that, the family intends to fete a few close friends, associates and well-wishers but the greatest beneficiaries this year are those who have continued to enjoy the benevolence and magnanimity of Chief OB Lulu Briggs over the years.
In this category are the vulnerable in the society. They are the elderly ones of his age grade. Over the years, the celebration had been symbolic as some of his age long friends have unwittingly put their birthday celebration to coincide with that of OB Lulu Briggs anniversary.
According to a childhood friend of the paramount Kalabari chief: “Olu does not believe in segregation. He accords us respect and we, in turn, reciprocate the gesture by using that day (May 22) to honour him. A lot of us are enjoying his act of kindness. Some of us are still living because of the adequate attention he has paid to our health and general well-being. Some of us stay in the facilities provided by Olu Benson Lulu Briggs.
“If you have not been here before, please ask anyone around to take you to Abonnema, where a gigantic edifice at Biokpo takes care of some elderly people. It is a well-furnished centre, equipped with medical facilities, games and a television set for relaxation. I am sure you will agree with me that these activities can prolong our lives.
“Olu mixes freely with us and we all catch up on old times. Yes, God has been good to him by blessing him with wealth. God did not stop at that. He also blessed him with a good wife who takes interest in our affairs.”He is, indeed, a man who has had the good fortune of being blessed with a selfless, courageous, amiable and versatile wife, Pastor (Dr.) Seinye Lulu Briggs. She is the one making the difference in the life of the oil magnate and philanthropist.
To underscore the very important role the woman had played and continues to play in his life, a family friend of the Lulu Briggs, Francis Murray Bruce, noted recently that only few women in the country could match Seinye’s quality.“If you want to know a woman who genuinely loves her husband, then watch how she treats him whenever he is in a vulnerable or hapless state. This woman (Seinye) wants her husband to live at all costs.”
However, Mrs. Lulu Briggs noted that God’s grace and mercy has seen her through her dark periods.
*Igandan is a special projects writer for The Guardian.
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