Ibani Furo Awo
2003 Boro Day
Nigerian Elections 2003




2009 was the 12th Boro Day/INAA Service Award Ceremony

Remarks By High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs OON, DCF On The Occasion Of The Service & Devotion Awards Presented To Him By The Ijaw Alliance Of The Americas (INAA) On May 30, 2009 In Newark, New Jersey, USA



It is with gratitude and humility that I accept the “Service & Devotion” Award 2009 presented to me by the INAA.


Firstly, let me most heartily congratulate my brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who despite being in this distant land have maintained their sense of identity, community and commitment to the Ijaw Nation. I applaud your vision of setting up the INAA as a rallying point for Ijaw people in the diaspora and more importantly maintaining an active and stable organization since September 1998. As we are all too painfully aware, voluntary, not for profit organizations such as the INAA are notoriously hard to sustain and the fact that you are still thriving is a testimony to your commitment and creativity.


Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, today is a day of remembrance, reflection and celebration of the events and people whose vision, service and sacrifice have helped to define us as a people. It is in this spirit that we the Ijaws have set aside a day each year when we celebrate the life of our great leader, the Late Isaac Adaka Boro, an icon whose life’s journey largely symbolizes all our hopes, fears and aspirations as a people, even today. In celebrating Isaac Adaka Boro, we are reminded that much work remains to be done if we must ensure that his sacrifices and those who stood with him will never be in vain.


As I reflected on the significance of this award, I was constantly reminded of the motto of the INAA itself: Service, Devotion and Accountability. Individually, these are weighty words. Taken together, they represent timeless concepts and values of selfless service, dedication and truthfulness, all qualities I have come to associate with what it means to be Ijaw. It seems to me that in instituting this award, the INAA seeks to reaffirm that there is nothing nobler than being involved in a cause greater than oneself.


A sage once noted that “service is the rent we pay for being alive”. Indeed service takes on new and larger dimensions of meaning and responsibility within the context of our homeland and the ever present difficulties of our people. One can choose to be overwhelmed, bitter and lethargic or remain stubbornly optimistic and determined to create something out of practically nothing. It is to the latter endeavour that I choose to commit myself, hopefully helping to widen the oasis of sanity and possibility for subsequent generations of the Ijaw Nation. That has been the path of those who came before us and that is what we must bequeath to the succeeding generation.


At various fora where I have had the opportunity to share my views, I have maintained that there is incontrovertible evidence that our people have the talents and enthusiasm to compete with the very best and excel at whatever they turn their hands to once the right conditions are put in place. What we as a people must devote ourselves – our time, hearts, money and every resource to is the envisioning and creation of that society which we desire.


My generation and those before us have done our part and as the great Nelson Mandela noted, “the future lies in your hands more than mine”. You may not believe it or even want to hear this but yours is a privileged generation in many ways. You are a generation that is better educated, more exposed and connected to the world beyond ours in ways we could only imagine. You have a great opportunity to know, learn and be influenced by new ideas and excellent global practices and are not burdened as we were by some of the old prejudices, animosities and dichotomies. Therefore the expectations of you are very high; for we seek new solutions to old problems that require out of the box thinking.


Do not for one moment think that I have a simplistic rose tinted view of our present circumstances. How could I? I am a child of the Ijaw Nation; I have travelled its forgotten creeks, seen the beauty of its flora and fauna, lived amongst my people for all my life and experienced our fundamental deprivations as a people. I see the growing loss of faith, lack of opportunities, non-exposure to best global possibilities and diminishing of vision. I see the steady rise of a future generation of our children who are already exposed to deep social and psychological dislocations. And I fear that these disconnects in our society will give rise to a totally dysfunctional generation, whose sole understanding of service is self-serving and based on self preservation. The repercussions of this are unimaginable; and it is to laying the foundation for the success of this generation that we must now devote ourselves.


Ijaws in Diaspora have provided us a path way towards this enterprise by their continued contributions to the cause of ensuring our people a better future. My message to them is that they must continue, in conjunction with those of us in the homeland to strengthen and deepen their capacity to act as change agents. In this regard, permit me to share with you some of my thoughts about the kind of leadership Diaspora Ijaws must provide at this time:


·        Unity: Our situation today commends itself to unprecedented levels of unity amongst Ijaws. We do not need to agree on everything, but there must be common purpose in pursuit of the general good. Ijaws all over should urgently pull together and be our brothers keepers. In forming organizations, we should create necessary synergies amongst various organizations and if need be, consolidate some of these organizations to create even stronger organizations. At home, we already have the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council as our umbrella bodies. Let us commit ourselves to working closely with these organizations by becoming active financial members. And as Ijaws, we should be “one for all and all for one”; there must be no divisions or dichotomies.


·        Finance: Ijaws in Diaspora should commit themselves to raising money aggressively, especially amongst themselves. As your recent experience in the US elections demonstrates, small drops of water truly make the ocean. For us to properly affect public policy in the homeland, we must raise sufficient resources to intervene in the public domain. Again on the national level, our struggle for equity and justice would be seriously impaired if we do not muster the resources to effectively engage the process in the battle for hearts and minds. Most importantly, we need to raise money to make meaningful interventions in our communities in areas of basic health, education and infrastructure. We cannot replace government but as you well know, there are indeed limits to governmental action in bringing development to our communities. My appeal to Ijaws in Diaspora is they should lead the way in raising funds and organizations such as the INAA are uniquely placed to so do.


·        Wealth Creation: If there is one thing we can all agree upon, it is that there is a pressing need to create a self sustaining system that supports wealth creation in Ijaw land in a self sustaining manner. This remains for me, the most efficient way to aggregate and use the collective talents of our people, allowing each one to contribute to the limits of their ability. Ijaws in Diaspora should look to form business partnerships amongst themselves and possibly, with Ijaws at home. These linkages are critical and must be nurtured. As I am wont to say, empowerment is a deliberate process! We need several local champions in business and the professions and most of you have already achieved great personal success; what is required is for us to leverage on your achievements and scale them up accordingly.


For us at home, we have started addressing this problem and one of the vehicles that we are deploying is the Rivers-Bayelsa Business Forum which I founded. It is conceived as a platform through which likeminded people have chosen to engage with the issue of wealth creation in the Niger Delta. It is structured to act both as a business incubator for entrepreneurs and as a public policy advocacy group. The Forum proceeds from the premise that we must urgently identify, nurture and foster an entrepreneurial class in our society. We truly need our own local champions who will demonstrate to others that business success is possible for our people and who can partake in the bounty of our land in a positive and sustainable manner.


The Forum has been hard at work over the past six months to do the groundwork to identify and promote initiatives that will empower the young entrepreneurial class to acquire relevant skills and commence business initiatives. We are deliberately making haste slowly because we want to put all the critical building blocks for success in place and forge useful alliances that will help bring our dreams and those we want to assist to fruition.


We have also continued to tweak the available micro finance models in order to find models that will work in our communities in a sustainable manner. The O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation which is run by my darling wife Seinye has achieved incredible penetration in several local communities by granting micro credits to women and providing health care services amongst others.



It would be remiss if I do not mention the current wave of unrest in Ijaw land. Like all of you, I am deeply pained by the daily news of deaths, destruction and dislocation in Gbaramatu Kingdom and other communities in Ijaw land. The poet John Donne said “Every man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind so ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”. Indeed, the bell tolls for all of us in Ijaw land. Yesterday it was Odi; today it is Gbaramatu; where will it be tomorrow? What is certain is that we cannot afford to display any kind of lethargy, show apathy or continue to merely pour vitriol on the fire fuelling the debate about the misfortunes of the Ijaw and the peoples of the Niger Delta. What is required at this time is for all stakeholders, working in unison to seek practical and pragmatic ways to restore normalcy to our land immediately.


This has been a truly enjoyable and heart warming occasion. Many kind and generous things have been said about me today. It is unusual to be so honoured in one’s lifetime and I am grateful to the INAA for organizing this event and deeming me worthy to be the recipient of this year’s Service & Devotion of Award.


I thank you all for this award and assure you that as long as God Almighty gives me strength and breadth, I shall continue to serve humanity in the ways in which He has guided me; with all my heart and ability.


I especially thank you for listening to me and pray that as you listened, you have been challenged and inspired to be part of the ever widening oasis of true service, devotion and accountability that we need to build our land and restore hope, pride and opportunity amongst our people. You are domiciled here in the United States of America and are considered to be privileged by many. Thus as leading lights, I encourage you to continue to illuminate the lives of others; a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.


To my beloved family, friends and associates who accompanied me to this event all the way from Nigeria, I express my unending gratitude for the love you continue to show me and your invaluable support.


I wish everyone an enjoyable evening and may God continue to keep us all.



Very truly yours,



High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs OON, DCF


Gold Sponsors

home |about us | members | ijaw history | meetings | contact us