The just concluded UBA Foundation National Essay Competition has shown that the series of empowerment programmes for girls across the country seem to be paying off.
At the award presentation at the UBA Head Office in Lagos on Monday, girls emerged the overall top three, out of 12 finalists that were selected from the over 5,000 students that entered for the competition.
A 14-year-old student of Louisville Girls High School, Ogun State, Oluwatoroti Jolaosho emerged the overall winner; Ifeoma Okey, 15, of Oladipo Alayande School of Science, Oyo State was the first runner-up; while Aimeé Okoko, 18, of Beautiful Beginning Academy, FCT, Abuja emerged the second runner-up.
The winner got the grand prize of an educational grant of N2 million to study in any African university of her choice. The first and second runners-up got N1.5 million and N1 million respectively, in addition to laptop computer and certificate presented to each of the 12 finalists, among other gifts.
Jolaosho, who was visibly exited, said the experience has given her more confidence with which she can face future challenges. She said the grant will help in the pursuit of her dream towards becoming a pediatrician.
“This is something I worked very hard to achieve. I read and studied very hard for this competition and I am very happy that my hard work paid off in the end. I am grateful to UBA and the UBA Foundation for this huge opportunity and for making me believe in myself, and I would like to encourage other students not to stop trying.”
Her mother, Mrs. Jaiyeola Jolaosho said, “This grant will go a long way to support my bid for quality education for Oluwatoroti. Now our dream to give her an education at the African Leadership Academy will be fulfilled with this grant. I am so happy about this, because I noticed that she has a penchant for writing, and we are so elated that she won. I will encourage all her siblings to apply for for this competition going forward.”
This year, the foundation introduced a prize for the school with the highest number of entries and the Livingstone College, Lagos came tops. The school was rewarded with gifts worth over N1 million.
Congratulating the winners, the CEO of UBA Foundation, Bola Atta commended them for their exceptional brilliance, saying, “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 further enhance your educational path is laudable.
For those that did not win, I would say do not be discouraged. Take it as a challenge to perfect your writing skills and enter for the competition again in 2020.”
According to Atta, as the CSR arm of UBA Plc, the foundation makes it a point of duty to give back to communities where UBA operates. She said education in any capacity remains the foundation’s focus area as it is the bedrock of any nation.
In his remarks the Chief Executive Officer of UBA Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka said the bank is happy to be touching lives and making an impact through its foundation’s National Essay Competition and the grant it gives out annually to those who emerge winners.
He expressed delight that more females emerged winners this year, adding that it is in line with the bank’s commitment to women empowerment. “What we are doing today in unique in Africa, we are doing this to continue to encourage our young ones to study hard because we noticed that overtime, the level of education has been going southward. For nine years now, we have been supporting students with grants to further their educational pursuits.”
Uzoka added that the competition has produced over 100 winners since its inception in 2011 in Nigeria; many have already graduated and a few are studying varied courses at universities in Nigeria and across Africa.
The judges, represented by a Professor of English (Gender Studies) and Director of Pre-degree Studies, University of Uyo, Ini Uko, stated that they were impressed with the participants who showed great promise. She said most of the students wrote intelligently and their ideas were well articulated, new and refreshing. She added that the judges were also encouraged by the fact that entries came in from students from all parts of the country.
The UBA Foundation’s National Essay Competition initiative has been operational in other countries in Africa, including Ghana and Senegal while Mozambique and Kenya are expected to kick off in 2020; the initiative is expected to spread to more African countries in the near future.