High Chief (Dr.) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF, DSSRS, Iniikeiroari V of Kalabari Kingdom, Paramount Head of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema, renowned Nigerian elder statesman, politician, businessman and philanthropist, was born on May 22, 1930 in Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. He passed into glory in Accra, Ghana on December 27, 2018.
Opuda, as he was fondly known, was born into two illustrious Kalabari families. His father, the late Benson Lulu-Briggs of the Oruwari Briggs House of Abonemma, was the grand son of the legendary Chief Iniikeirori Young Briggs (Oruwari II) , the legendary merchant prince, founder, and sole defender of Abonnema. His mother, the late Rachael Kioba Harrison Kio Lawson of the Atonaye Pakaa (Pepple) of King Amachree Royal House, was the first daughter of the late Chief Harrison Kio Lawson.
Opuda lost his father at a very early age and his only brother, Onyema Tubonimi Lulu-Briggs, died just 11 days later. As was the tradition at the time the elder male members of the family inherited his father’s wealth, leaving him and his mother to struggle economically. He had to work to pay his own way through primary school by fishing and carrying out menial jobs. He was unable to pay his way through secondary school.
He came from a long line of rich merchants and traders and had grown up being regaled with stories about their adventures and immense successes in international transatlantic trade with western merchants as equals. Naturally he went into business, but life was not easy. At an early age, under the care of his paternal grandmother he became acquainted with Jesus Christ. He would remain a committed Christian throughout his life. Indeed, he would let anyone who asked that it was his unwavering belief in Christ’s promise that stood as the constant in his life.These experiences would later result in his desire to help as many people as he could when he became able to do so.
Despite the loss of fatherly support, even as a young business man he educated himself, and actively sought formal employment. His tenacity, hard work, fearless attitude, and good nature paid off as he rose above his tribulations to become one of the wealthiest Nigerians with a career that took him from businessman, clerk, trade unionist and politician to businessman.
He gained national recognition for his progressive role as the National Deputy Chairman of the now-defunct National Party of Nigeria, the dominant political party in Nigeria from 1979 to 1983. In this position, he was able to contribute to development in Nigeria. His was a respected voice, which he used to push for recognition of issues such as services for the country’s large populace and environmental challenges and inadequate funding for the Niger Delta region that provides most of Nigeria’s revenue.
He is also applauded in his role as Chairman and Chief Executive of Moni Pulo Limited, a pioneering indigenous oil and gas company in the upstream sector which he founded in 1992. Today it is greatly admired across the sector.
A philanthropist par excellence, his generosity was legendary even before his wife, Dr. Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs established a foundation in his name in 2001. The O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, which was solely funded by Moni Pulo Limited for its first 15 years, implements sustainable interventions that enhance the quality of life for underserved persons across the Niger Delta and beyond. It does this through five key programs: Care for life for the Elderly, Education and Scholarships, Access to Clean Water and Sanitation, Micro-Credit and Entrepreneurship and Health and Medical Missions. The Foundation’s work gave the late Opuda great joy because through it he was able to achieve the promise he made himself as a struggling adolescent.
Opuda is survived by his wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, his children, Senibo O.B. Lulu-Briggs, Chief Dumo O.B. Lulu-Briggs, Sofiri O.B. Lulu-Briggs, Solate Ovunda-Akarolo, Aima Ojehomon, Rachael O.B. Lulu-Briggs, Dateim O.B. Lulu-Briggs and Iyowuna O.B. Lulu-Briggs, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial website was created in memory of beloved father. CLICK HERE TO SHARE YOUR TRIBUTES AND MEMORIES.