It was a memorable day for a number of indigent students of Rivers state origin when a foundation gave out cash awards and laptops to them. GODWIN EGBA reports.
Lulu Briggs Foundation established a decade ago is aimed towards enhancing the quality of life for the under-served in the society.
The foundation which is a household name among other charity organisations operating in Rivers state began its mission 20 years ago starting with an innovative elder care initiative and has over 600 people on record as well as the sick and neglected senior citizens in the state.
To date, the foundation has touched the lives of over 120,000 men, women and children in rural and semi-urban areas in the South-south geopolitical zone.
So far, over 2,500 persons have received free medical treatment including 87 for general surgeries and 57 eye surgeries respectively in the state.
However, September 14 was memorable for 114 Law graduates as they were feted by the foundation, just as it also marked the 20th anniversary of the foundation
Wife of the late High Chief O.B Lulu Briggs went down memory lane on the establishment of the awards which she said began in 2009.
“The Law School Students Grant Awards are provided under the auspices of Education and Scholarships Programme established in 2009 in response to an unexpected and large increase in the Nigerian Law School admission fees. This leads to a large number of financial aid request letters to our grand benefactor, the late High Chief, Dr. O.B. Lulu-Briggs.
“With firm belief in the rule of law, the High Chief surmised that the awards would provide the means through which the foundation could support social justice and rule of law. Social justice and rule of law is the cornerstone of every democratic community.”
The foundation kick-started with a cash grant of ₦120,000.00 awarded to 33 Kalabari Law graduates and when laptops became mandatory for every Law school student in 2013, the foundation added brand-new laptops to the award.
Dr Seinyi disclosed that over the past seven years, Law students from every local government area in the state have benefited from the awards programme and that has brought the number to 808 students so far including 114 awardees from 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 batches honored on September 14.
While describing the award ceremony as amazing, she noted that it had grown in scope since 2009 when the foundation started.
She pointed out that even though the foundation started with a focus on Kalabari students, it has now accommodated all Rivers indigenes who have been admitted into the Nigerian Law School.
She said the goal of the grants is to lift some of the burdens of financial demands and requirements of attending Law School off students and their families.
“Our provision of a grant comprising ₦120,000.00 and a brand-new laptop to each awardees is to ensure that financial constraints do not prevent prospective Rivers state students from attending and doing well at the Nigerian Law School,” she emphasized.
She also noted that over the years, Rivers indigenes had risen to the top of the legal profession in Nigeria, playing key roles in nation building, actively leading the creation of judicial systems and in the administration of justice.
The chairman further informed her guests that past beneficiaries of the foundation have established an alumni association which, among other activities, is keen on mentoring and lifting young and upcoming lawyers.
“I charge you to see the Law School as the preparation ground for your future conquests. Focus on your studies and success is surely yours. I urge you to hold fast to the values and ethics of your profession and to help promote accountability, rule of law and justice in all your endeavors.”
The foundation chief executive reminded the awardees that personal success cannot be divorced from community success, therefore they should develop a good sense of social responsibility, such that later in life they would be able to apply their minds and resources to addressing the social problems that might be the issues of the time, pointing out that this was the philosophy of the grand benefactor of the foundation, Dr. O.B Lulu-Briggs, her late husband.
Among the distinguished high achievers in the law profession who identified with the foundation at the grant awards ceremony include His Lordship Hon Justice Simeon Chibuzor Amadi, the Chief Judge of the state who chaired the occasion and Hon Okey Wali (SAN), a renowned lawyer and former Attorney-General of the state and 26th President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), who stood in as guest speaker.
Beyond the foundation giant stride in enhancing education and scholarships, it’s other programmes include micro credit and entrepreneurship which equip and empower people with skills through training, business equipment, working capital, loans among others.
A cross-section of the awardees and their families who expressed their appreciation thanked the founding father.
The foundation also revealed that to-date, the programme provides medical care and pays caregivers to look after those who can no longer care for themselves, for example, in Akuku-Toru local government area of the state with over 120,000 men, women and children in rural and semi-urban areas of Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers states, respectively.