The four-day funeral activities for late industrialist, benefactor, business guru, Defender of Christian Faith and philanthropist, late High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs was brought to a fitting and glorious climax on Saturday, March 13, 2021, at his home town, Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku Toru local government area of Rivers State.
The array of personalities at the funeral ceremony conducted by eminent men of God across various denominations underlined the grace and blessings God showered on the deceased, who represented many things to different people across the world.
As early as 8 am, guests from across Nigeria were already arriving Abonnema, in a signpost what was to come, as the ancient York City, popularly referred to by indigenes, witnessed one of its largest gathering in recent history.
The entire city was agog to celebrate one of its most illustrious sons, who brought honour, dignity, reverence, colour and recognition to the people.
The procession from the Oruwari Briggs House to the venue for funeral service was nothing short of a whole community showing love and admiration for one of its own, as practically every compound showed solidarity with various flags representing families and generations.
In his homily at the funeral service, the Special Assistant (Special Duties) to the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Supervising Pastor for Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States, Pastor Belemina Obunge spoke of the need to set priorities in life and for such purpose to be fulfilled.
According to him, there is the need to live a life of value and significance, pointing out that “without understanding purpose in life, abuse was imminent,” especially as we have to give an account of lives to our creator.
Quoting scriptures from John 4:13-14 and Ephesians 2:10, Obunge, who is also the RCCG’s International Youth Pastor, spoke of the significance to create a positive impact while alive, adding that such legacies have to be something unforgettable.
He tasked those present leave behind positive legacies like the late O.B Lulu-Briggs, stressing that “we must inspire others and have a purpose to be like Christ.”
Bishop Emeritus of the Niger Delta Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt Rev Gabriel Pepple prayed for the family left behind by their patriarch.
In her tribute to the deceased, wife of Nigeria’s President, Hajia Aisha Buhari praised the philanthropic gestures of late O.B Lulu-Briggs, who she said was quite close to the first family.
Hajia Buhari, represented wife of Minister of State (Petroleum), Mrs. Alayingi Timpre-Sylva, tasked the family to take solace in the fact that they were capable of keeping the flag flying and prayed God to bless and give the family peace.
Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan went down memory lane, recalling how he came in contact with the late Lulu-Briggs, pointing out that it was sad losing him.
He stressed that the deceased, who was a father to all, touched lives in so many ways, just as he prayed for Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his siblings to be able to fit into the legacies their father left behind.
Humbled by the outpour of the show of love from dignitaries across all divides, the chief mourner, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs expressed deep gratitude and promised to do all within their powers to sustain their father’s legacies.
According to him, “And he will always say to you, that to thyself you must always be true and as day follows night, that which will be will be. He taught me that love is not an exchange. So you don’t love because you expect to be loved in return; that love was an act of faith, that you just do it because you have to do it expecting nothing in return and you’re doing it because you believe in God.
“And from his story, it is very clear that your background is not the reason your back is on the ground. That you can get moving. So on behalf of the Lulu-Briggs family, I thank all of us, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Nyesom Wike, Mrs. Aisha Buahri, Ministers, men of God, traditional rulers, friends of my father, and all those who have spoken very glowingly of my father.”
Dignitaries that attended the occasion include Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo; former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke; former Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia; Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi (represented by Dr Dawari George), Ministers of State (Petroleum), Timipre Sylva and his Mines and Steel counterpart, Dr. Uche Ogah; Secretary to Rivers State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo and former Managing Directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaible, Joi Nunieh, Bassey Henshaw.
Others include the Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amayanabo of Opobo, HRM, King Dandeson Jaja; Chairman of Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council, Dr. Edet Okon Etim; Managing Directors of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo and his Access Bank counterpart, Herbert Wiggwe; Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Bobmanuel; Ambassador of Nigeria to Jamaica, Ambassador Maureen Tamuno; wife of former Bayelsa State Governor, Mrs. Margret Alamieyeseigha; immediate past Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, among others.
Abonnema Stood Still For Late High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs As Mortal Remains Arrived
The mortal remains of late High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF, DSSRS, the Iniikeiroari V of Kalabari Kingdom and Paramount Head of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema had on Friday, March 12, 2021, arrived in Port Harcourt.
The Head of Young Briggs House and Chief Mourner, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, joined by other family members, were on hand to receive the mortal remains of the late philanthropist, politician, benefactor, industrialist, and oil mogul at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
The convoy later moved to Buguma, headquarters of Asari Toru local government area for a brief stopover before transporting the mortal remains via the sea to Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku Toru local government area amidst boat regatta from different houses and groups.
The atmosphere in Abonnema became charged when the chiefs and others sighted the boat conveying the corpse from Buguma.
It was indeed a glorious ceremony as the people and invited guests struggled to catch a glimpse of the mortal remains of one of their most illustrious sons, coming home after over two years of his demise.
It was obvious that the ancient city had not seen such a sea of heads in recent history as everywhere was practically on lockdown.
Different groups, male and female, youth, and the elderly performed in many areas, signaling that they were united in paying their last respect to such a graceful soul.
The journey of taking the mortal remains of late High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs to the family’s compound expectedly took a long time as the whole town lined up along the streets to witness and be part of the history that was being created.
The Oruwari Briggs hall and all the highrise buildings shone brightly with freshly painted coatings in the glowering rays of soft evening sunshine and as Opu-da’s procession hearse entered through the gates booming cannon shots exploded with a resounding satisfaction to herald the arrival of the great man.
A magnificently built stage hosted the mass choir for the Christian wake keeping which featured a full church service, the 200-man choir, and other harmonious groups from the community. Tearful Tributes were given by the Staff of Monipolo and from the Children to round off the Christian wake.
And then the live bands took over with the ubiquitous good old time MC Sagastus, and several entertainers of yore who reigned in famous hangouts and nightclubs.
They included Sir Perry of the Ozigizaga fame; Rastaman Bob Kelly, the reggae master who rolled out Bob Marley tunes including the famous ‘One Love”; Baba Tony Grey who sent the audience down memory lane as he thrilled with his konga and rendered some famous Rex Lawson tunes; Chief Elenwa of the Garden City Band; Positive Man and Captain Hart, who belted out several old Ghana classics made popular by JB Danquah and Henshaw, amongst others.