BY KOLAWOLE IGANDAN
History is what we record. Whatever the era, whether amid peace or conflict, there will always be someone with a camera or a pen; recording events. Our focus here is legendary nationalist and philanthropist, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs, who turns 88 on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Every year, the family of the monumentally successful businessman chooses his birthday to celebrate the mercy, goodness and kindness of God on the family.
This is not a surprise to associates, well-wishers, contemporaries and the people of the Lulu Briggs ancestry in Kalabari, Rivers State In fact, without invite, the people mentioned have elected to converge on the Chapel of God International Worship Centre, Port Harcourt every year to celebrate the life of a man who has sealed his status as a community leader, global business man, philanthropist, humanist, caring and dotting family man and nationalist par excellence.
This year, the celebration is not going to be any different but the family has assured that “all the glory must go to God for keeping our father healthy and strong”.
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 of Briggs. In this category are the vulnerable in the society. They are the elderly ones of Briggs age grade. Over the years, the celebration of Briggs had been symbolic as some of his age long friends have unwittingly arranged their birthday celebration to coincide with that of Briggs.
A childhood friend of the paramount Kalabari chief said, “Olu does not believe in segregation. He accords us respect and we reciprocate the gesture by using that day (May 22) to honour him. We enjoy his generosity Some of us are still alive because of the 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 an edifice at Biokpo takes care of elderly people. It is a well-furnished centre, equipped with medical facilities, games and a television set for relaxation. You will agree with me that these 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”.
Briggs is, indeed, a man who has had the good fortune of being blessed with a selfless woman. Pastor (Dr.) Mrs. Seinye Lulu Briggs is the one making the difference in the life of the 88-year-old oil magnate and philanthropist.
To underscore the very important role the woman plays in the life of this man of means, a family friend of the Lulu Briggs, Francis Murray Bruce, noted recently that few women could match the kindness of Seinye.
“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. When I heard that his treatment gulps a colossal amount every day, I exclaimed in local parlance… ‘Shoooo, this money too much o’. She (Seinye) then said, ‘Na him (OB Lulu Brigss) work for the money, na him get am. I go spend everything on am if na that one go keep am alive’. I was impressed and had to hold myself back from crying,” he said.
Another person, who spoke highly of the “Jewel” of OB Lulu Briggs, is Apostle Zilly Aggrey, a cleric who witnessed turn of events when the businessman was indisposed last year.
“There was a particular medication that was prescribed for him but she realized that after taking the drug, he (Lulu Briggs) got weaker and his body became swollen; she (Seinye) complained to the doctors and they changed the medicine and re regained his strength”, Aggrey said.
“She is very sensitive to his general well-being. During that time also, you dare not come around to say anything negative about her husband’s health. She was always positive and when she is praying for Chief Lulu Briggs, she was always on another level of spirituality”.
In her words during an interview recently, Seinye noted that God’s grace and mercy had seen her through dark periods.
“God’s grace and mercy has brought laughter to my lips and joy to my heart. Terror looked at my face but God granted me grace to look beyond terror and I saw mercy smiling at me”, she said.