The Legend Continues – Sunday Magazine – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
Kalabari, Akuma Fiete: Gborogborobo fite (hear, O you Kalabari, the sounds of the Akuma drum: A great man is dead).
The death of renowned Kalabari former statesman and industrialist, Grand Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, gripped the nation for more than three years after his transition in 2018, in part because of the huge vacuum left behind by the passage of the great man, and also because of the infighting in his family which took place in public.
A reading of the 300-page book, Opuda: The Legend Lives On, written by Dr. Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs and printed by La Sien Media gives great insight into why this Niger Delta hero and statesman (affectionately called Opuda by his family and close associates), thus captured the national imagination during his lifetime and afterwards.
On beautifully laid out pages, the book – practically an anthology of panegyrics – contains moving excerpts from the life of OB Lulu-Briggs and what he meant to those who crossed his path. Submissions came from above and below; the distant and the near; the individual and the public. It also contains lasting words from the man himself, in the form of a revealing interview conducted by a team of ThisDay editors on his 75th birthday in 2005.
In the latter, as usual, OB Lulu-Briggs left pearls of wisdom, including this timeless one: “I see everything that happens in life as having a purpose and our confusion comes from our tendency to look the event rather than the goal.” There was a tribute from the children of the village of Hope Ghana, who said that although they had never met the man, they “all felt the direct impact of his generosity.” Several recipients of his scholarships and medical and religious outreach programs across the Niger Delta and beyond have spoken along the same lines.
There were tributes from former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan; Nigerian statesmen and business leaders; as well as the UN and several major local and international business organizations.
The content of this edifying book is divided into five major chapters, each representing an aspect of the life of the Great Chief. These are Opuda (about his person); Chief Kalabari (about his role as a traditional leader and peacemaker); business tycoon (about his many business ventures), statesman (about his role in political and democratic development in Nigeria); and philanthropist – about his generosity.
The Opuda chapter, which contains an alluring informative family tree of the Lulu-Briggs dating back to the formation of Abonnema, includes eulogies from Mrs. Lulu-Briggs, their children, associates, extended family and friends. Like the other parts of this book, the chapter was peppered with stunning imagery of Lulu-Briggs in his roles as son, father, husband, grandfather, friend and confidant.
In Chief Kalabari, the life of the late Lulu-Briggs as a traditional leader is brought to life. He was known as a bridge builder, a peacemaker and a seeker of progress. This could be gleaned from the tributes of the Asantehene of the Ashanti Kingdom, the Fondom of Cameroon; of the Obong of Calabar and many traditional leaders from all over Nigeria.
“His sacrosanct reverence for the institution of chieftaincy and his principled rectitude in upholding fairness, equity and peaceful co-existence within the Abonnema Council of Chiefs justified its unanimous adoption as as regent of Abonnema, when the council was misrepresented in its historical development and commentary,” Alabo wrote to Graham-Douglas, among several others.
The Business Tycoon tells the story – through the lens of several commentators – of a man with immense business acumen and foresight. This is the story of the founding of a major indigenous oil company, Moni Pulo and several others in hospitality, banking, housing and others.
The late Lulu-Briggs was a political colossus and the chapter on Statesman more than took care of that. It is enriched with powerful essays from Dr. Godknows Igali, Dr. Patrick Dele-Cole and Grand Chef Abiola Ogundokun. There is also an op-ed on Chief Obafemi Awolowo by Dr. OB Lulu-Briggs himself.
Then there is the philanthropist. Along with his OB Lulu-Briggs Campaign for Christ, the late Lulu-Briggs was a major supporter of church activities – hence his Defender of the Christian Faith award. He was also a noted donor to secular causes, and recognition and accolades came in large numbers from both segments of national life.
This documentation of a slice of the life of the late Regent of Abonnema by his wife is a welcome testimony to a life well lived. It also adds to the body of knowledge about the evolution of Nigeria and the men and women who contributed to its growth.
As the author wrote, it is also a timely reminder that no condition is permanent and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
“These are testimonies to his leadership and gracious life…I hope this will encourage you to embrace your day fearlessly and make the most of what lies ahead,” Dr. Seinye Lulu-Briggs wrote. in the foreword. “Love remains the strength and foundation of what Opuda was.”