Winners of the 13th Mike Okonkwo National Essay Competition for secondary school students in the country recently received their prizes at the 17th Mike Okonkwo Annual Lecture, which held in Lagos.
Clenching the first position out of the 846 students that entered for the competition was 17-year old Miss Fadilah Saliu-Ahmed, a student of Zamani College, Kaduna. She got a cheque of N100,000, a laptop and plague, while her school got three sets of computer and a printer.
The first runner-up, Miss. Barakat Adebayo got N75,000 cheque and a plague, while her school, Roshallom International School, Egbeda, Lagos received two sets of computer and a printer. The second runner-up, Miss Wuraola Adeoye got N50,000 cheque and a plague, while her school, Fountain Height Secondary Secondary School, Lagos received a computer set while four other finalists got consolation prizes` of N20,000 each.
Delivering the lecture titled ‘The State of the Nigerian Nation: Redefining Our Values’, a former Minister of Information, Mr. Frank Nweke II, said the way to build a lasting value system in the country is for Nigerian parents to go back to their fundamental roles of proper parenting to their children.
He said parents must nurture their children in every sense of the word and pay attention to their welfare, as well as their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
The guest lecturer said the rising act of rebellion from different parts of the country; some unconventional attitudes and lawlessness being witnessed in the country in recent times are obvious signs of failure on the part of parents in raising their children.
“The role of parents in the upbringing of children and for the orderly conduct of society is accentuated by the difficulty that the state has had in reigning of renegades, militants and insurgents who threaten our sovereignty.”
Nweke said these groups of people have been largely successful because parents and society appear to have failed them. “They largely do not know better. You may have observed that the greater majority of recruits and partakers in the unwholesome acts of lawlessness in our society are barely literate.”
On the way forward, he said the country has to be clear on what it wants as a people, the national ethos and development philosophy. “We must mobilise a national consensus on national development philosophy; it is such a philosophy that will underpin our socio-economic policies and development.
“It is this philosophy that will enable our leaders understand the spiritual burden they bear as leaders to cater to the nearly 200 million people. It is such a philosophy that will also enable citizens to learn that leadership and followership are shared responsibilities but more importantly that political authority is only exercised on trust for the people.”
Also delivering a paper on the same theme, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, said Nigeria is on a gradual journey into having its values redefined, especially among youths.
According to the IT expert, Nigerians have moved some steps forward, from mere chanting the change it desires to practically taking some steps such as ensuring free and fair elections in 2011.
He said the country has witnessed some changes as citizens are gradually moving from being indifferent to active participation on issues of national interest.
“Today, the average Nigerian citizen is more aware of the role we can play in ensuring good governance. We must not lose focus on what is important: that young people redefine values to place common good over personal comfort.
“What Nigeria will become depends on us. We will need to redefine our values and build on ongoing efforts. For a better Nigeria, we must move from a status-based economy to one that rewards innovation and celebrates excellence over mediocrity.”