The Blind Student Who Won Hearts and Minds

17 Jul 2013

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Adibe Emenyonu writes that a junior secondary school blind student in Benin City has emerged the winner of this year’s Kenneth Imansuagbon Essay Competition, along with other awards. Through hard work, he also won his mother back

For Lucky Emmanuel, a blind student of Ihogbe Junior Secondary School, Benin City, the day started bright.  On Friday, June 28, 2013 he emerged as the winner of the Kenneth Imansuangbon Essay Competition with a cash reward.

Prior to his win, Emannuel, a native of Ebele in Iguenben Local Government Area of Edo State, who comes from a poor home with no one to support him, had been abandoned to fate.

He lost his father early in life when he was just eight years old and his mother who re-married took him to a charity home where he was expected to spend the rest of his life.

Eyes moist after the award, Emmanuel said he was not born blind. According to him, “I grew up to meet the situation. My mother told me that my predicament came when I had measles at the age of two and that after it was cured, it was discovered that I could no longer see objects without feeling them.”

Unable to cope with widowhood and the burden of taking care of a blind boy, Emmanuel’s mother shirked the responsibility. “My mother neglected me because of my disability. She re-married after my father’s death in 1999 and moved away to Warri, leaving me behind in Benin City to a charity organisation to care for me.

“Even my uncle, who used to take me to school at a stage, said he was tired. But my teachers kept encouraging me that the only way someone with disability can grow is through education and I decided to carry on,” he said.

True to his teachers’ advice, Emmanuel’s fortune changed. Though he’s yet to regain his sight, he has etched his name in gold as he emerged winner in the just concluded Kenneth Imansuangbon Essay Competition.

Expressing his joy at coming first in the essay competition, he told THISDAY that he only heard about the essay completion two days to the closure of entries.
He said: “I heard about the essay competition through my teachers who told me to apply. At first I was not interested, but with the promptings of my teachers, I had to go to the website to register.”

Through hard work and devotion, Emmanuel who sat for the essay competition alongside 100 other candidates at the Benin City centre, came first in the special category and went home with the prize money of N100,000 cash and a  computer.

And for his effort and given his status as a visually impaired student, he received more.  The Chairman, Parents/Teachers Association, Pace Setters College, Wuye, Abuja, Mr. Bishir Yar’Adua, heard the news and invited Emannuel to give his another cash reward of N2 million.

The annual essay competition was established five years ago by the philanthropist, educationist, politician and founder, Pace Setters’ Group of Schools, Abuja, Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon.

Speaking at the prize presentation which took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Friday, Imansuagbon said that the aim of setting up the competition was to discover talents in the rural areas  that can make the country greater through essay writing competition across the state, adding that six winners emerged from the four designated centres, namely: Benin City, Uromi, and Ibillo, all in Edo State and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Imansuagbon pointed out that the national award/prize competition was meant to encourage the Nigerian child to remain committed to their studies.
“The Kenneth Imansuangbon National Essay Competition is an interesting annual event that has continually aimed at discovering the in-born potential of youths as regards creative and persuasive writing skills with a view to enhancing self realisation and good leadership ability.
"This year's exercise which marks the 5th edition in series like in time past does not only open up whole new vistas for young minds to exhibit their writing ingenuity, but also seeks to produce literary icons like Chinua Achebe, Flora Nwapa, Williams Shakespeare, Zainab Alkali, Cyprian Ekwensi, and others for national and international recognition,” he explained.
According to him, the 2013 essay competition was open to all students from J.S.S 1 through S.S 3 in colleges/secondary schools all over the federation and had been categorised into two, the junior and senior categories.
The title of this year’s competition was ‘Politics, Peace and Unity’, and it attracted 227 students with 67 of them coming from eight schools that included four private and four public schools, while a total number of 160 students participated in the competition at the Uromi centre alone.

Also speaking at the event, Dr. Aina Olusegun, a director with the FCT Department of Policy Regulation, described education as a veritable instrument for human development, adding that no society can move forward without the instrumentality of education.

He therefore challenged the students of Pace Setters and winner of the essay competition that the future of Nigeria belongs to them, warning that they must not waste the huge investments made on them by their parents.

Earlier in a keynote address, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, Executive Vice-Chairman, Retail Banking North, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, urged parents/guardians to always counsel their children/wards so that they would not fall into a wrong profession which they will regret in the future.

He said the world is laden with stiff competition and had become more sophisticated, and that only the self disciplined could cope.

“Always maintain a high standard. Do not mess around with your studies so that whatever degree you obtain, you will be able to defend it because good education remains the key to success,” Ibrahim advised.

As for Emmanuel’s teacher, Mrs. Ruth Oghenekome, it was a day to celebrate his achievement: “It was like a miracle because they had already selected 14 students from the school for the essay competition. But we had to include two of the physically challenged in the nomination list and register them online and Emmanuel was one of them.
“At a stage, his keyboard failed but with prayers, it picked up again. Even at that, we did not have any hope of success. I and all my colleagues are very happy because the glory is that all the efforts were crowned with the prizes he won for himself and the school.”

Not only did Emmanuel win prizes, he also won his mother back after so many years of neglect and loneliness. He said: “My mother called me this morning. Since I won the award, there has never been a day that she did not call me and I know it is an indirect way of telling me that if she has offended me, I should forgive her. But without her saying so, I told her I have done that already.”

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