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15-year-old Akwa-Ibom student wins UBA national essay competition

15-year-old Akwa-Ibom student wins UBA national essay competition
November 14
20:30 2022

On Monday, it was a moment of glitz and excitement as students across the country converged at the Tony Elumelu amphitheatre in UBA House, Lagos state, to celebrate the best brains that emerged at the 2022 National Essay Competition organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Foundation.

It was the 12th edition of the competition that witnessed students from senior secondary schools across the country participate in a rigorous writing process. Hence, at the grand finale, the expectations were high and the moment was tense. The question on everyone’s lips was, who will be crowned winner of the 2022 edition?

According to Bola Atta, chief executive officer of UBA Foundation, the entries were impressive. Out of over 5,000 entries submitted for the competition, 12 finalists were shortlisted. Among them were 11 girls and a boy.

“The entries were completely digital because we are trying to go with the times. Interesting enough, we had a 35 per cent participation from the northern part of Nigeria,” she said.

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“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 come first this year, I would say do not be discouraged. Take it as a challenge to perfect your writing skills and enter for the competition again next year.”

The judges of the competition were professors from universities across the country. They were Ini Uko of the University of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom; Asabe Kabir Usman of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto state; Sam Oneigbo of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; and Tunde Omobowale of the University of Ibadan.

Asabe noted that the topic on Nigeria’s brain drain for the final essay competition, which the twelve finalists wrote, was striking and timely.

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THE WINNERS AND THE PRIZES

At the ceremony, Usongobong Paul, a 15-year-old student of Federal Government Girls College Ikot-Obio Itong, Akwa-Ibom, was announced the overall winner of the essay competition.

The award came with a scholarship worth N5 million to study in any African university of her choice, as well as a brand new laptop among other gifts.

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Usongobong, who was escorted to the event by Akanyere Divinelove Chigozie, her ICT teacher, said she was excited to have won the competition, adding that the experience has bolstered her confidence.

“I am so grateful to the UBA Foundation for this great opportunity. It has helped me to believe in myself and bolstered my confidence. This scholarship will go a long way towards assisting in my dream to become an ophthalmologist. This opportunity has changed my life and I really appreciate the UBA and the UBA Foundation for this,” she said

She will also be supported throughout her educational career and beyond with constant mentoring by the UBA Foundation.

The second prize went to 15-year-old Princess Sholabomi of Value Spring College, Lagos. She won a N3 million educational grant and a laptop; while the third prize of N2,5 million and a brand new laptop went to 15-year-old Sharon Nwajiaku of Ota Total Academy, Ogun state. The other 9 finalists also received brand new laptops as well as consolation prizes, including books and other learning materials.

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A COMMITMENT TO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT 

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Oliver Alawuba, UBA group managing director, said the bank remains vested in the youth who are the future of the continent.

“As a bank, we are interested in empowering our youth, and to do this, we must educate them, through efforts such as these,” Alawuba said.

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“The truth is that we are launching these programmes in all the 20 countries where UBA has a presence. Already, some of these countries have already started. I was in Sierra Leone a few weeks ago where the NEC was held, and I was really encouraged by the enthusiasm and participation. Since we at UBA know that our future lies with our kids, they will take Africa to the world where it needs to be.”

In his speech, Kennedy Uzoka, chairman of the UBA Foundation, said the organisation has been touching lives and making a solid impact and has produced hundreds of winners, some of who have long graduated from higher schools and have been impacting their communities.

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“I commend everyone for being a part of this event. We set up this competition over 12 years ago because we saw the need to allow students to express themselves and convey their ideas, and over the years, we have seen that we are doing something very unique and truly African. We have given scholarships to over 60 students, and we have been able to produce doctors, engineers, lawyers through this platform,” Uzoka said.

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