Omoya Simult, a 100L student of the Faculty of Clinical Science, Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Ibadan UI), has emerged winner of the inaugural ‘Fisayo Soyombo inter-university essay contest organised by the Union of Campus Journalists (UCJ), UI.
Charles Victory Odigbo, a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who is also studying Medicine and Surgery, was first runner-up by a margin the judging panel described as “very narrow”.
Endowed by Soyombo, a former president of UCJ who now edits TheCable, the contest required applicants to answer, in no more than 1,000 words, the question: ‘Will Four Years of Muhammadu Buhari Lead Nigeria to Socio-economic Prosperity?’
According to Tawakalit Kareem, who relinquished her position as UCJ president during the prize-giving ceremony, a total of 84 applications were received from different tertiary institutions across the country.
Olayinka Egbokhare, a lecturer at UI’s Department of Communication and Language Arts and chairman of the judging panel, praised Omoya’s “outstanding work” for its “clarity of purpose”.
“Many of the other contestants wasted words beating around the bush and dancing round in circles without making any thesis statement,” she wrote in her award notes.
“The writer stood out because he has an easy way with words and his few slips are quite pardonable; they did not litter the essay.
“He made use of recent, relevant and credible references in support of some of the claims made in the essay. He is at best a purpose-driven writer and this quality made his essay to tower above some of the other equally-good writers.
“He made effective use of paragraphs and presented his ideas in a variety of sentence structures, thus enhancing readability. He however used a Yoruba proverb in text and this I think is a style he will have to jettison especially when writing for a mixed audience. On the whole, his was a well-written, easy-to-read, interesting and logical essay.”
Accepting his N100,000 cash prize for winning the contest from Michael Sonubi,a former PRO of the union, Omoya said he found his victory “highly encouraging”.
“It is undoubtedly the biggest prize I’ve gotten from writing so far. This will go a long way in sustaining my interest in writing, especially when I keep meeting people who wonder what correlation medicine has with writing,” he said.
“To fellow teenagers and youths like me, who are talented and who feel passionate about a craft or art, please never see your course of study or choice of career as a barrier to exhibiting your God-given gifts and abilities. The world is replete with men and women who have combined writing and arts with other professions, and yet excelled at them brilliantly.”
He dedicated the prize to Dare Amuda, his “beloved and intellectual friend” who died on November 10, 2015.
“Let this be to the beautiful moments we shared before his demise, and to the countless memories of him that will forever linger,” he said.
He also thanked UCJ, UI, for organizing the contest, before adding: “My profound gratitude goes to the sponsor, Fisayo Soyombo, a journalist par excellence whom I hold in high esteem, and from whom I draw inspiration unbeknownst to him. This is a giant stride towards improving writing culture among Nigerian undergraduates, and one must credit him for that.”
Commenting on the award Soyombo himself said: “It’s an honour for me to give back – even if only in a small way – to the organisation where journalism all began for me.
“The writer says this award will motivate him to continue writing, and that, for me, means it’s mission accomplished! The next task for me now is how to ensure that this award is even bigger next year.”