A 14-year- old girl, Odjegba Divine Omesiri, has emerged the winner of the 2018 United Bank for Africa (UBA) Foundation National Essay Competition, taking home a brand new laptop as well as an educational grant worth N2million 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 yesterday in Lagos, beating 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.
Escorted by her mother, Odjegba said she was excited to have come tops 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 gynaecologist.
“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,” she said.
The second prize was bagged by 15 -year – old Ozemoka Halimat Emesomi, 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 laptop 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 laptops.
Managing director and chief executive of UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, 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 the bank was happy 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 were now UBA ambassadors.