A student of Young Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, Miss Felicia Amanosi Agbugui, emerged the star prize winner from 12 finalists at the just concluded UBA Foundation National Essay Competition for 2016. Peter Uzoho, who was at the grand finale recently in Lagos, reports
She screamed thunderously, far above roof top and tears of joy rolled down her cheeks. Her mother, teachers, friends and colleagues encircled and hugged her for becoming the latest UBA Foundation Ambassador.
“I am very thrilled, and thankful to God,” said Miss Felicia Amanosi Agbugui, after receiving the trophy as the overall winner of the UBA Foundation National Essay Competition for year 2016, earning herself a star prize of N1m educational grant to study in any African university of her choice, and a laptop.
“I am grateful to UBA for this huge opportunity and for taking a huge financial burden off my parents especially at this hard economic period,” the 16-year-old student of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, noted, adding “winning this competition will really push me to do more towards attaining my dream of becoming a great Engineer.”
At the grand finale, held on Thursday, December 8, 2016, at the UBA Tower, Marina, Lagos, Agbugui clinched the first position ahead of 12 finalists selected from numerous entries received by the UBA Foundation from students of senior secondary schools across Nigeria. With this feat, she will now be drinking from the ocean of UBA’s benevolence. Her imminent university bills have been covered as she has, by dint of hard work, removed the burden off her parents.
Sixteen-year-old Master Beckley Bill Arigi of Global Kids Academy, Arkilla, Sokoto, who emerged the 2nd Runner-up won N750, 000 educational grant and a laptop, while Mistura Sanni of Sacred Heart Catholic College, Ibara, Abeokuta, who emerged the 1st Runner-up won the prize of N500,000 educational grant and a laptop. Also, nine other finalists were given laptops as consolation prizes.
In his congratulatory message to the winners, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, UBA Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, charged them to be of good character, study well and be of good behaviour, saying “the winners and indeed, all finalists have become UBA Ambassadors.
“We are encouraged by the impact this initiative has had and as such we are extending it to other parts of Africa. Already we have replicated this in Ghana and Senegal with many more to come,” Uzoka noted.
Earlier, Uzoka who was listening when past winners of the competition were telling their success stories, commended members of UBA Group, UBA Foundation trustees, and the judges of the competition, for providing the platform for the young ones to excel.
“UBA as a bank is happy that it is touching lives and making solid impacts through this competition and the grant it gives out to those who emerge winners.
“Seeing past winners tell their stories about the impacts the grants have made on their education and particularly how the financial burden was lifted off their parents, give us joy, that our foundation is unique and stands out from others in touching lives.
“The essay competition has produced 96 winners, since its inception in 2011 in Nigeria, with winners studying varied courses in universities in Nigeria and African continent. I must also state here that we want to make sure that the grants are given to those who really need them. That is why we restrict the support to schools within Africa alone. If by chance the parents of any winner sends his or her ward to an elite school outside Africa, we would not go ahead with that support, because what we are really after are those who really need the grants and contribute to the development of the African continent,” he added.
The GMD who observed that writing correct sentences in English Language has become a challenge, said there was no way you would write your examination in short messages. “We are producing medical doctors and other professionals. We are creating awareness that students should learn to write properly. The moment you become our ambassador, the financial burden for your university education is taken off your parents.
“I encourage you winners to be of good character, and ensure that apart from academic excellence, you must avoid any negative action that might dent the foundation’s image and that of your families.”
Also congratulating the winners, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, UBA Foundation, Ms Ijeoma Aso, said every student who sent in an entry was a winner, noting that, it shows that he or she is confident about his or her writing skill.
“For those that did not win, I will say do not be discouraged. Take it as a challenge to perfect your writing and enter for the competition again in 2017,” Aso said.
Aso explained that UBA Foundation which is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of UBA Plc, makes it a point of duty to give back to communities where UBA operates, describing education as bedrock of any nation and one of the Foundation’s focus areas.
She encouraged the finalists to be good ambassadors of the Foundation which is in its sixth year in Nigeria.
Speaking on behalf of the panel of judges, Head, Department of Modern European Languages and Linguistics, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, Professor Asabe Kabir Usman, said they were impressed by the participants who showed lots of promise as to what to expect of Nigeria’s future generation. She explained that the students “wrote intelligently and their ideas were well articulated, new and refreshing. We were also impressed seeing students sending their entries from all parts of the country,” Usman said.
She said over 3,000 senior secondary school students submitted written essays in the 2016 competition, with the topic ‘If you were in a position to help the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), what would you do?’
Usman explained that the parameters used in assessing the winners were content, choice of words, articulation, construction of grammar and most importantly organisation.
“By and large, they did well except for a few, who we came to a conclusion that they were aided in their write ups. We found this out when we gave them the final test to write here on the topic, ‘Oil discovery in Nigeria: Blessing or curse’, and this was done under strict supervision. I would say that overall we were impressed by what we assessed at the end,” she added.
“The eventual 12 finalists sat for supervised essay writing at UBA House and wrote on the topic ‘Crude Oil; A Blessing or a Curse’,” she noted.
Since the inception of the UBA Foundation National Essay Competition in 2011, over 96 students have emerged winners and are currently studying in different African universities. For instance, Orji Somtochukwu Phillipa was a 14-year-old student of Dorothy International School when she took part in the National Essay competition in 2011 and emerged 1st runner up. Currently, she is a third year student of Medicine and Surgery in Abia State University.
Vivian Nneka Nwajiaku, is in her third year as a Law student at the University of Lagos, under the sponsorship of UBA Foundation. She finished her secondary school education from Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos. Nwajiaku took part in the maiden edition of the Foundation’s national essay competition at the age of 14 and was the 2nd runner up.
Also, Ugwuegbulam Ikenna Ogbonna was a student of International School University of Lagos and was 15 years old when he participated and won the 2012 National Essay competition. He is now a fourth year student of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Lagos.
Ezenwa Joseph Okonkwo is a third year student of the University of Benin where he is studying Library and Information Science. He was a 15-year-old student of Sambol Comprehensive High School, Lagos, when he took part in and won the 2013 National Essay competition for senior secondary schools in Nigeria.
Also in the list of beneficiaries of the UBA Foundation’s Education Intervention Scheme is Fehintoluwa Fabelurin who is currently, a second year student of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo. She was a 15-year-old student of Maverick College, Ibadan, when she won the 2014 edition of the competition.
These ambassadors, who were conspicuously present at UBA House in Lagos, to witness the presentation of awards to the 2016 winners, used the moment to express yet another round of gratitude to the Bank and the Foundation for helping them to pursue their educational careers.
One of them is Phillipa, who said the grant has taken a huge burden off her parents financially. “With heartfelt gratitude to UBA, I have kept the fire burning and I assure you that I will not be another unemployed graduate on completion of my programme.”