38-year-old Chizuruoke Collins Ezem, a teacher with the Royal Academy, Wuye, Abuja has emerged the 2019 Maltina teacher of the year.
Ezem beat 23 other teachers Friday night in Lagos to emerge winner, bagging a whooping N6,500,000 cash reward, with his school to be endowed with six blocks of classrooms.
The ceremony, which attracted the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeks Nwajiuba, First Lady of Lagos State, Dr Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji, Commissioners of Education from Delta, Ogun and Lagos, Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Commission, Boboye Oyeyemi, the management team of Nigeria Breweries Plc, and several education stakeholders.
Ezem, a father of two and an indigene of Abia State, thanked God for making him the face of Nigerian teachers and appreciated NB Plc for recognising teachers.
The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira, graduate, described teachers as foot soldiers for the Nigerian Constitution and curriculum development agents. Ezem said he was optimistic that he would win the coveted prize.
The Christian Religion and Study and Civic Education teacher came tops over 23 state champions, becoming 2019 Maltina Teacher of the Year. NB Plc disclosed that 1,310 teachers submitted entries as against 641 in 2018.
The first runner up went to Soji Megbowon, a teacher in Lagos State, he received N1.5 million (plus N500,000 as state champion) while a teacher from Katsina State, Fidelis Atondo, emerged 2nd runner up with N1.25 million, as well as N500,000 as state champion.
In his remarks, Prof Osinbajo, represented by the Minister of State for Education, acknowledged that NB Plc has been at the forefront of improving education through its foundation, which has built over 400 blocks of classrooms and provided 35 libraries.
According to him, the recognition of teachers will remain top priority of the Buhari administration, as he congratulated Ezem and the state champions for emerging winners.
In his address, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the annual Maltina teacher award has been a major event to reward excellence in the profession.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, said the award has been a source of motivation for teachers to put in their best with the knowledge that their efforts will be recognised and rewarded.
The Managing Director of NB Plc, Mr Jordi Borrut Bel, said teachers play vital roles in national development, thus the need to recognise and reward their efforts.
He acknowledged the support of the Federal Ministry of Education (TRCN) All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) and other stakeholders in ensuring the success of the annual teachers award.