Snatched from the jaws of death, Lulu Briggs celebrates in style
Niger Delta businessman Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs may not have envisaged the avalanche of encomiums that came his way at his 87th birthday anniversary celebration held at the Chapel of Glory International Worship Centre, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
That he is, indeed, a man of many parts was evident in the way speaker after speaker fell over themselves to pay tribute to the man fondly referred to as Opuda by family and associates.
It was a moment of mixed feeling as family and close associates recalled events in the life of the man who chairs Moni Pulo Petroleum Development Company, in the last few months that warranted a grand celebration of his birthday.
Activities to mark the birthday began with a Night of Adoration on the 21th may, 2017. At the event, guests were treated to a praise worship session, with notable gospel artists such as Chioma Jesus, Frank Edwards, Empraiz and Bolu Udom rendering their hit tracks to the delight of all
It was followed by prayers for the good health, and continued prosperity of the celebrant. It continued till 12.am when there was a display of fireworks to herald the birthday of the celebrant.
Early in the morning of Monday may 22, 2017, the family held a thanksgiving service at the Chapel. Prominent Nigerians present at the services included the Deputy Governor of the State, Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Justice Adolphos Karibi Whyte (rtd), Obong of Calabar, Edidem Abasi Otu, Amanyabo of Opobo Kingdom, Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu of Ashanti Kingdom, Amayanabo of Kalabari, King Amachree, General Alani Akinrinade rtd, Anikio Briggs, Julia Oku, chief Frederick Bozimo, The Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Zaki Ahmed, Brig-Gen E.T Essien, Dr. Partick Dele Cole, OCJ Okocha SAN, Chief Abiola Ogundokun and a host of others.
In an emotion laden voice, the wife of the celebrator, Chief (Mrs.) Seinye Lulu Briggs set the tone for the day with an account of events that almost shattered the family in the last six months.
“It all began when the OB Lulu Briggs Foundation decided to hold an awareness campaign against prostate cancer and we decided not just to talk about it, but how lifestyle and diet can contribute to it.
“We went a step ahead by providing an avenue were men could come and be tested free of charge, so we engaged doctors in different hospitals. Over four thousand men in Rivers State came out and were tested. The ones that had serious issues were assisted. Men became aware of the dangers of prostate cancer and how to detect it at a very early stage.
“So, a lot of them were happy. It was after that exercise that we suddenly discovered that my own husband was having the same issue and that was how we travelled to London. I thank God, there was nothing cancerous about it and it was just an obstruction and the procedure was done immediately and we were happy he was healed. He was fine, and we got ready to go back home. Before then, I noticed he was losing weight rapidly and was not looking as bright as he used to. So, I communicated with his doctors and they were in doubt, they did not believe that something was wrong with him. Further enquiry however confirmed my fear and I was proved right. After a period of treatment, the reality dawned on me when we went back to the hospital
“ We went to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital and I was told to gather my family together, I was told that there was nothing they could do. They told me that they couldn’t give me any assurance that he would get well and, that, I should just go home and bring his family the next morning at 10am and I looked beyond the doctor who obviously had no good news for me and I talked to God.
“We spent about four months in the hospital. There was heavy rejoicing the day they removed the ventilator from him and allowed him to breath by himself. That was when a test run was carried out by the doctors to see if he could breath for six hours. He breathed for six good hours, and, eventually for a longer period and, then, the ventilator was removed.
“ The more I looked at my husband, the more I love God, the more I cherish God, the more I appreciate God that we have air to breathe; I did not care whatever we spent, I just wanted to make sure that whatever could be done was done. My husband was revived, but I must add that, on the day we were going to the hospital to see him, on his left hand side was another man who had been there one month before him, who was just like my husband; eye closed, no talking, no movement, no responses whatsoever with so many gadgets strapped around him and they told me he had been in Dubai for one month before they brought him to that very hospital that my husband was, he had stayed another month in the hospital. I said, ‘father, is this going to be my case in ICU for two months?, I said no!’.
“On our way out, we saw another man that had been there for seven months. The more I saw them, the more I began to bless God. I made a covenant with him, and since He has given me all power, I knew I would go home with my husband very soon. What I was seeing around me made me very strong because I knew that God will never fail to fulfill his promise. He(God) has discussed with me and I received his words, so it has to be established.
“ My husband kept improving until the day he was discharged, then we came home. I discovered that my husband lost absolutely nothing; his stubbornness is still there, his weight is still there, he never forgot how to shake hands and to snap his fingers at it and he does it till today .Of course, he recognizes everyone and during the ceremony of thanksgiving and the night of adoration, he saw his old friends and they bantered and exchanged pleasantries.
“ l am a happy woman, I love my husband and I will rather stay with him no matter what it cost and no matter what I have to do to keep him here with me, because I believe the day God will call him, he will tell me first, there will be no struggle or stress. it will be peaceful”.
Her speech drew thunderous applause from the guests who were enthralled by her confidence and loyalty. A legal practitioner who doubles as the Director of Programmes of the OB Lulu Briggs Foundation, Mr Miebaka Nabiebu further described the celebrant’s wife as the “secret weapon” of the revered Kalabari business man
“Mrs Seinye Lulu Briggs has shouldered an enormous burden and privilege with dignity, iron heart, and strength. She is the right hand of OB Lulu Briggs and, in fact, his greatest secret weapon.”
*Kola, formerly of The Guardian, is a freelance journalist and media consultant.