The 2019 Maltina teacher of the year competition sponsored by the Nigeria Breweries (NB) Plc has come and gone with winners smiling to the banks just as stakeholders commended the company for recognising teachers in the country.
The 4th edition of Maltina teacher of the year was won by Ezem Chizuruoke Collins, a 38-year-old teacher with Royal Family Academy, Wuye, Abuja and he smiled home with N7 million. He got N6.5 million as winner and N500, 000 as state champion (Abuja).
With Ezem’s victory on Friday, October 18, it meant Abuja has set a record in the history of Maltina teacher of the year competition. The implication is that Abuja has won the competition twice; in fact, it picked the coveted award back-to-back (2018 and 2019)
Records available indicate that since 2015 when the Maltina teacher of the year started, teachers from Abuja have always made it to the award ceremony.
At the maiden edition of Maltina teacher of the year, Sunday Yomi, a teacher from Abuja emerged one of the state champions and went home with N500, 000, in 2016 and 2017 Maureen Paulinus, represented Abuja twice and won N500, 000 each. The climax was in 2018 when Opeifa Olasunkanmi Samuel, a teacher with Government Day Secondary School, Karu, Abuja carted home the coveted prize. His school got six-block of classroom.
Again, during the 2019 edition, Ezem Chizuruoke Collins and 22 other teachers emerged state champions and were given a cash prize of N500, 000 each. After the elimination process based on the Prof Pat Utomi-led jury assessment and criteria, the list was reduced to ten and later three. With three teachers standing, tension gripped everybody in the hall.
The three teachers standing after 20 others have been eliminated were Mr. Fidelis Atondo from Kastina State, Mr. Soji Megbowom from Lagos and Ezem Collins from Abuja.
When Mr. Atondo, was announced as the second runner up and presented with N1.25 million cheque, all eyes were on Ezem and Megbowon.
While the Lagos State Government delegation led by the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, including the First Lady, Dr (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwu-Olu, and top officials of the state hoped Megbowon will clinch the coveted prize and make it a second award within one week, having won the Presidential Teachers Award in Abuja, Mr. Ezem, who came with his wife, Mrs. Ucheoma Ezem, went on his knees with two hands raised. He silently prayed for divine intervention.
For about two minutes, the hall was silent. With rapt attention, everybody in the hall stared at the slips of the two MCs waiting for the name of the 2019 Maltina teacher of the year.
Ezem was still on his knees praying fervently when his name was announced as the 2019 Maltina teacher of the year. The wife rushed at him on stage to embrace him while the Lagos State delegation was consoled with the second runner up.
With Ezem’s victory, Abuja not only emerged the first to win the coveted prize for a second time but back-to-back. He went home with N6.5 million, N500, 000 as state champion while his school will get six-block of classrooms worth N20 million.
The 38-year-old teacher and father of two kids was overwhelmed with joy and lost in thought for few seconds.
Ezem, a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria thanked God for making him the face of Nigeria teachers and appreciated the Nigerian Breweries Plc for instituting the award to recognise the efforts of teachers.
The Abia State indigene, who teaches Christian Religious Studies and Civic Education, described teachers as foot soldiers for the development of the Nigerian constitution and education curriculum.
Ezem told The Education Report that he was optimistic that he will emerge the 2019 Maltina teacher of the year and promised to impact on other teachers as well as build new teaching philosophy.
According to him, on several occasions, he felt discouraged about being a teacher, stressing that his school and wife encouraged him to remain in the profession.
“My school takes training of teachers serious. The owner of the school has good welfare for the teachers. My wife sacrificed a lot to marry a teacher. I appreciate Nigerian Breweries Plc for restoring the lost glory of teachers.’’
Mrs. Ucheoma Ezem, who was the first person to rush onto the stage to congratulate her husband, said she has never been discouraged marrying a teacher, stating ‘’teaching is part of his life. He is also a teacher in the Church.’’
She confirmed that her adrenaline was high when the husband and Megbowon were the last two teachers standing, noting ‘’I was optimistic, he will win. I don’t have any regret marrying a teacher.’’
OSINBAJO, SANWU-OLU COMMEND NB
The award ceremony, which attracted the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwu-Olu, Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji, commissioners for education from Delta, Lagos and Ogun State, Registrar of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof Josiah Ajiboye, Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Commissioner, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, management team of NB Plc, Chief Kola Jamodu, chairman of NB Plc, President of All Nigeria Confederation of Principal of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Mr. Anselm Izuagie, General Secretary, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr. Mike Ene and several stakeholders.
In his remarks, Prof. Osinbajo said the recognition of teachers is a continuous exercise and lauded Nigeria Breweries Plc for rewarding teachers with mouth-watering prizes.
Osinbajo congratulated Ezem and the state champions and recalled that the Federal Government also bestowed awards on teachers during the celebration of World Teachers Day in Abuja.
He disclosed that NB Plc has been at the forefront in improving the quality of education by building over 400 classrooms and provided about 35 libraries.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwu-Olu, in his speech at the award ceremony commended NB Plc for celebrating teachers for their contributions to the education sector and national development.
Sanwu-Olu, who was represented by the education commissioner, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo said the annual Maltina teachers’ award has become a major event organised to reward excellence in the teaching profession.
“Indeed, it has, no doubt, been a source of motivation for teachers to put in their best with the knowledge that their efforts will be recognised and rewarded.
In his address, the Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Jordi Borrut Bel affirmed that the initiative was designed to recognise, celebrate and motivate teachers in Nigeria for their invaluable contributions towards the overall development of our lives as individuals and the society as a whole.
“There is no doubt that teachers play a vital role in sustainable national development by training, coaching and modelling students which are critical to determining the quality of education. However, everyone acknowledges that these teachers seldom get the recognition they deserve.
“We at NB Plc, commend you our teachers for the countless lives you have touched and molded-in your own unique ways. We recognise the work you are doing and on behalf of Maltina and all of us at Nigerian Breweries Plc, I salute you for your exceptional efforts. I congratulate all the winners today and charge those who do not win the top prize to hold their heads high for being a shining light for their profession,” he said.
Reviewing the journey of the 2019 MTOTY, the Corporate Affairs Director of NB Plc, Mrs. Sade Morgan, described the Maltina Teacher of the year as a national competition among secondary school teachers in the country, stating “the competition adopts a rigorous multi-stage screening process supervised by an independent Jury to produce the winners”.
Morgan disclosed that 1,310 entries were received for the 2019 edition as against 641 entire in 2018. She said the figure represents a quantum leap of 104 percent increase.
She said the 1,310 entries were subjected to an intensive selection process by the judges to ensure transparency, credibility, and objectivity.
Though Ezem was presented with N6.5 million cheque, he will receive N1 million in 2019 and every year , N1million for the next five, including a capacity development training abroad while his school, Royal Academy, Wuye, Abuja will get a furnished six-classroom block worth N20 million as part of the winning prizes.
On the reception accorded him when he arrived his school, Ezem said ‘’I was received royally, like a King, it was a triumphant reception they gave me. The proprietor of the school who is also the Senior Pastor of Family Worship Centre presented me to the Church and I was given opportunity to share my testimony. My school leaders and students received me in a cerebral spirit and it was honorable