By Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
A second-year student of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Mr. Abasiekeme Edet has won N1 million at the 4th edition of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) annual national undergraduate essay competition.
The prize-giving ceremony was held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and the essay by the 18-year-old was adjudged the best amongst over 6,000 entries submitted by undergraduates who are in their first or second years in the university.
The topic for this year’s essay contest was “Research & Development as a key lever for Local Content Implementation in Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry.”
Miss. Oluwadamilola Oluwafela, a 200-level Medical student, Obafemi Awolowo University, Osun State emerged the first runner-up and won a cash prize of N500,000, while Mr. Somtochukwu Eze, a 100-level Medicine and Surgery student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State placed third and won a cash prize of N300,000.
A statement by the NCDMB stated that other finalists received HP laptops as consolation prizes.
In his keynote address, the Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote disclosed that the competition was geared towards developing human and material capacities, which is one of the key mandates of the board.
He explained that the board sponsored the contest to create local content awareness among the vibrant youths and make them advocates of Nigerian content, which is critical to sustainable development of our local economy, job creation and national security.
Wabote, who was represented by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. Patrick Obah, commended the choice of the topic for this year’s competition, hinting that research and development is pivotal to national development and the bedrock of sustainable local content.
Obah indicated that the board developed a 10-year R&D roadmap to help promote the culture of research and innovation in Nigeria and support local content development in the oil and gas industry.
He identified some key initiatives under the R&D roadmap to include the establishment of a US$50 million Nigerian Content R&D Fund, sponsorship of research prototypes, commercialisation of research findings and setting up of R&D Centres of Excellence (CoE) in five Nigerian Universities.
While congratulating the finalists for their hard work and dedication, he expressed excitement with the increase in the level of participation in the essay contest from undergraduates in various tertiary institutions across the country.
In his remarks, the General Manager, Corporate Communication and Zonal Coordination, NCDMB, Dr. Ginah Ginah mentioned that the competition is one of the board’s interventions to improve the standard of education in Nigeria.
He added that it aims to promote proficiency in writing, increase the participants’ awareness of local content and engender citizen engagement from undergraduate level.
Ginah, who was represented by the Manager, Corporate Communication, Mr. Naboth Onyesoh stated that the contest is also intended to promote analytical and critical thinking among Nigerian youth which is vital for enrich problem-solving and for effective citizen engagement.
“Enlightened citizenry is required for local content advocacy and to nudge public institutions to be more accountable, transparent and alive to quality service delivery, hence this competition is oriented to encourage reading and writing, promote analytical and critical thinking among Nigerian youth,” he added.