• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs: A philanthropist’s day of honour

Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs: A philanthropist’s day of honour

The Bible quotation: “Seeth thou a person diligent in their work; they will stand before kings and not ordinary mortals”, played out on Saturday, May 25, 2024, for Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, an industrialist and philanthropist, when Kelvin Ngozi Anugwo, Eze Ekpeye Logbo III of Ekpeye land, Ahoada East, Rivers State, installed her as a high chief of the kingdom.

The industrialist, with significant footprints in energy, manufacturing and hospitality, had previously stood before eminences globally and continues to do so. However, that day’s recognition further confirmed her innate compassion.

Long renowned for her service and commitment to the well-being of the underserved and vulnerable in Rivers State, the South-South zone and Nigeria generally, the ex-banker turned industrialist was loudly feted that day at the king’s palace where she was installed as the ‘Ununwe Gwoduma Emene Ekpeye 1 of Ekpeyeland’ (The Woman that cures Ekpeye People) by Eze Anugwo.

Humanitarian works

None deserved the title more than Seinye Lulu-Briggs, whose foundation, the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, has prioritised the promotion of health of the people of Ekpeyeland and elsewhere. In its 23 years of existence, the foundation, which operates in five major areas of care for life program, free medical missions, access to clean water and sanitation, education and scholarships, and microcredit and entrepreneurship, all aimed at nurturing the holistic well-being of vulnerable people in the Niger Delta region, has reached close to two million people and spent over N3 billion bringing relief to Niger- Deltans and Nigerians.

Apart from the foundation’s overall work in the five areas contributing to 10 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the free medical missions fulfils goal number three, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. Free services are offered during the medical missions, usually lasting five days. These include counselling/health education, outpatient consultations, general surgeries, paediatric care, dental care, vision care (including glasses and surgery), malaria testing and treatment, HIV/AIDs screening, physiotherapy, and an on-site pharmacy and laboratory.

The 39th free medical mission took place in Ahoada in April. There, Eze Anugwo revealed the kingdom’s intention to confer a chieftaincy title on Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs for her commitment to the health and well-being of his people.

The fact that it was the second medical mission in Ahoada (4,502 people were treated from November 5 to 9, 2007, during the first edition) further explained the king-in-council’s decision to appreciate a benefactor by springing a surprise title on her when she went to pay homage to the monarch in his palace before the official commencement of the exercise.

“It is great to be back in Ahoada this week,” Lulu-Briggs said in her address at the official opening the exercise. “And with your kind support, we will once again bridge the gap, alleviate suffering, and restore the health and well-being of thousands in this community who need medical attention but cannot afford to attend the mainstream healthcare system,” she continued.

The philanthropist also gave insight into why the foundation, despite the significant cost, focuses on the health and well-being of the vulnerable and underserved.

“We are all aware of the economic contractions and the cost-of-living crisis, which has caused the prices of everything in our nation to skyrocket. Many people can no longer afford to feed themselves and their families. Nor do they have the means to live in decent shelter. Let’s not even mention taking care of their health, which is a people’s most important asset. This, unfortunately, is particularly true of our underserved communities, hence the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation’s resolve to bring quality healthcare to the doorsteps of people who need it,” she said.

Colourful coronation

This, therefore, was the background for Saturday’s colourful coronation event for the philanthropist. Accompanied by eminent Nigerians including; Patrick Dele Cole, Amaechi Okwuosa, a lawyer and member Body of Benchers, Dawari George, international lawyer, Charles Adeogun-Phillips, Tom Fabian and Mohammed Alfa, who represented the Ejeh of Ankpa, Kogi State, Abubakar Ahmed Yakubu, the philanthropist left home to be coronated as a chief but departed the ceremony as a high chief.

Eze Anugwo, who sprang a second surprise on Sienye O.B. Lulu-Briggs for her immense contributions to the well-being of the Ekpeye people and Rivers State as a whole, lauded her philanthropy and commitment to improving lives, emphasising that her work embodies the spirit of community and healing.

He then declared that the newly installed chief had been promoted to a high chief and, by her new status, had become a member of the Ekpeye Council of High Chiefs.

Displaying her inimitable compassion, the dazed O.B. Lulu-Briggs further gave back to Ekpeye land. She disclosed that she would establish a recreational centre to cater to the vulnerable of Ahoada. The centre, to be built on three plots of land presented to her by the king during the coronation ceremony, will be a haven for the elderly and abused women.

She said, “The plan and the building model you see here are a reaction to your action. You shocked and surprised me. I received a land plan surveyed for under 3000 square metres without notice or solicitation. I was pleasantly surprised and wondered what to do with it. But the spirit of God put in my heart to open a recreational centre for the senior citizens of Ekepeye Kingdom.

“The centre will also serve as a safe shelter for battered wives and women who need immediate assistance. I have been working on this with the various societies I work with. Since the land is large enough, I decided to establish a centre like that where there will be room for someone to stay safe for the night. It is not a residential place but a shelter where battered women or girls can stay for the night. I thank the Eze Ekpeye Logbo for giving us this property, allowing me to do what I have been thinking of doing for every major city in Rivers state.”

History of philanthropy

Activities at Saturday’s colourful event, which featured dances and Kalabari and Ekpeye masquerade displays, further affirmed Lulu-Briggs’s commitment to the underserved through the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, established to recognise the legendary giving of O. B. Lulu-Briggs, Seinye’s late husband, a Kalabari High Chief, industrialist, and statesman.

Some of the Foundation’s recent interventions include the relief materials given to thousands of families affected by the 2022 devastating Nigerian floods in two Rivers communities, Akinima in Ahoada West Local Government Area and Elem Sangama, a Kalabari Kingdom island in Akuku-Toru Local Government. The foundation fulfilled its humanitarian mandate by distributing relief items worth over N120 million to the people in both communities. The relief items included food, toiletries, medication, treated mosquito nets and wrappers. The foundation’s medical team also attended to thousands of people with health challenges.

These are in addition to the regular Care for Life Program, which currently sees to the monthly upkeep of 87 senior citizens, and extra-mural classes for final-year secondary school students in Abonnema who are currently writing their school leaving examinations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation also donated palliatives to several groups, including the Rivers State Police Command, Army wives and widows, inmates at the Degema Custodial Centre, and communities across the state, as well as in Akwa Ibom, Kano and Kogi states.

Only two days before the coronation ceremony, the foundation brought smiles to the faces of 59 law graduates of Rivers State origin when it gave them N150,000 cash and brand-new laptops at its 15th Law School Students Scholarships Award Ceremony. About 931 law students had previously benefited from the initiative established in 2009.

However, for Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, all these are nothing as she is simply doing God’s work. To her, there is nothing one has that God did not give him or her, and there’s no sense in hoarding one’s wealth when one can put it to the benefit of others. “I give all the glory to Almighty God for enabling the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation to do all it does. I pray that He continues to find us a worthy vessel for assisting the underserved and vulnerable,” she stated.