Two girls and a boy took the top three spots in this year’s edition of the UBA Foundation’s National Essay Competition as 14–year old Odjegba Divine Omesiri emerged the overall winner, carting away a brand new laptop as well as an educational grant worth N2 million to study in any African university of her choice.
Odjegba, a student of the International High School, Delta State, clinched the first position at the grand finale, which was held on Monday at the UBA House, Marina Lagos.
Divine beat 11 other finalists selected from over 6,000 entries received by the UBA Foundation from students of senior secondary schools across Nigeria. This year’s edition saw over 500 per cent increase in participation from pupils across every single state of the federation.
A visibly elated Odjegba, who was escorted by her mother, Mrs Odjegba, said she was excited to have come top in the competition, adding that the experience has given her the confidence that she can face great challenges and emerge a winner. Winning the competition, she said, would help her pursue her childhood dreams of becoming a Gynecologist. “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 indeed 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.”
The second prize was bagged by Ozemoka Halimat Emesomi aged 15, of University Preparatory Secondary School, Edo State, who won a N1.5 million educational grant and a laptop, while the third prize of N1 million and a brand new lap top went to Adiankpo Ini-Iso Christopher, 16 years old. Christopher attends the Nigerian Christian Institute, Akwa Ibom State.
The other nine finalists all received brand new lap tops.
Bola Atta, the MD/CEO of UBA Foundation while congratulating the winners commended them for their exceptional 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 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 2019” she said.
According to Atta, UBA 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, Atta noted, remains of the Foundation’s focus area as it is the bedrock of any nation.
In his remarks the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of UBA Plc Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said UBA as a bank is happy that it is touching lives and making a solid impact through this competition and the grant it gives out annually to those who emerge winners.
“We have indeed 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,” Uzoka said. He specifically mentioned 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 to students and the less privileged.
Uzoka informed the gathering made up of parents, students and the media, that the essay competition has produced over 100 winners, since its inception in 2011 in Nigeria, with winners studying varied courses in Universities in Nigeria and within the African continent. 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, noting that 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.
UBA Foundation’s National Essay Competition has been taken to other African countries including Ghana and Senegal as well as Mozambique and Kenya. The initiative will spread to more African countries in 2019.