The UBA Foundation has rewarded winners of the National Essay Competition for secondary schools across the country, as 14-year-old Miss Divine Odjegba of the International High School Delta State emerged the overall winner receiving the star N2 million scholarship, as well as a laptop and a trophy.
The first and second runners-up were 15-year-old Miss Halimat Ozemoka of University Preparatory Secondary School, Edo State and 16-year-old Adiankpo Ini-Iso Christopher of Nigerian Christian Institute, Akwa Ibom State; they got scholarships worth N1.5 million and N1 million respectively, as well as brand new laptop computers.
The 12 finalists, out of about 6,000 students that entered for the competition, were honoured at the grand finale, which held at UBA Headquarters in Lagos on Monday. The remaining finalists also received laptops and other prizes.
A visibly elated Odjegba, who was accompanied by her mother, expressed delight to have come top in the competition though she never expected to emerge the overall winner. She said winning the competition has given her the confidence that she can face any kind of challenge and emerge winner.
She added that the prize would help her actualise her dream of becoming a gynaecologist. “This is something I prayed about and worked hard to achieve. I was in shock to hear my name announced as the winner and my mother and I cried for joy. I am very grateful to UBA and the foundation for this huge opportunity and making me believe in myself. This grant will go a long way to support my bid for quality education.”
This year’s edition saw over 500 per cent increase in participation from students across all states.
While congratulating the winners, the CEO of UBA Foundation, Mrs. Bola Atta, commended them for their brilliance. “Every student who sent in an entry is a winner. To be confident about your writing skills and ambitious enough to enter a competition to enhance your educational path is laudable. For those that did not win, I will say do not be discouraged. Take it as a challenge to perfect your writing skills and enter for the competition again in 2019.”
Atta said the foundation, being the CSR arm of UBA Plc, makes it a point of duty to give back to communities where UBA operates. “Education in any capacity remains one of the foundation’s focus areas as it is the bedrock of any nation.”
In his remarks the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of UBA Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said the bank is happy that it is touching lives and making a solid impact through the competition and the grant it gives out annually to those who emerge winners.
“We have noted the increase in the cost of living and have therefore increased the prize money by 100 per cent in all the categories. Seeing past winners tell their stories on the impact the grants have made on their education and particularly how the financial burden was lifted off their parents, gives us joy that our foundation is unique and deeply touching lives.”
He highlighted the ‘Each One Teach One’ initiative – the foundation’s latest initiative where thousands of UBA staff members gave back to their communities across Africa, by imparting knowledge in students and the less privileged.
Uzoka disclosed that the essay competition has produced over 100 winners since its inception in 2011 in Nigeria, with winners studying various courses in universities in Nigeria and within Africa.
He encouraged the winners to be of good character and ensure that apart from academic excellence, they must avoid any negative action that might dent the foundation’s image and that of their families as they are now UBA ambassadors.
The judges, led by Professor of English (Gender Studies) and Director of Pre-degree Studies, University of Uyo, Mrs. Ini Uko stated that they were impressed with the participants who showed great promise as to what to expect of the future of Nigeria.
She said most of the students wrote intelligently and their ideas were well articulated, new and refreshing, adding that the judges were also encouraged by the fact that entries came in from students from all parts of the country.
She also noted that there was an improvement in the quality of essays this year, compared to previous years; however, the use of text message languages and abbreviations is still a problem among students.