By Chinenye Anuforo
A 16-year-old student of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, Agbugui Felicia, has emerged the overall winner of the 2016 edition of the UBA Foundation National Essay Competition, winning an educational grant of N1 million to study in any African university of her choice.
The student, who was also given a laptop, came tops at the grand finale of the competition last week at the UBA House, Marina, Lagos, ahead of 12 finalists selected from numerous entries received by the UBA Foundation from students of senior secondary schools across Nigeria.
Felicia, who was excited about her victory, said her achievement would propel her to do more in attaining her dreams of becoming an engineer. “I am very thrilled, and thankful to God. I am grateful to UBA for this huge opportunity and for taking a huge financial burden off my parents, especially at this trying time,” she said.
The second prize went to by Master Arigi Bill Beckley aged 16 of Global Kids Academy, Arkilla, Sokoto, who won N750,000 educational grant and a laptop, while the third prize went to Sanni Mistura of Sacred Heart Catholic College, Ibara, Abeokuta. He won a N500,000 educational grant and a laptop. The other nine finalists were given laptops. While congratulating the winners, Ijeoma Aso, the MD/CEO of UBA Foundation, praised them for their exceptional brilliance. “Every student who sent in an entry is a winner. It shows that he or she is confident about his or her writing skill. For those that did not win, I will say do not be discouraged. Take it as a challenge to perfect your writing and enter for the competition again in 2017,” Ijeoma said.
According to Aso, UBA Foundation, being the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of UBA Plc., makes it a point of duty to give back to communities where UBA operates. Education, she noted, is one of the foundation’s areas of focus as it is the bedrock of any nation.
She went on to encourage finalists to be good ambassadors of the competition which is in its sixth year in Nigeria, affirming that the competition will be held every year.
In his remarks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of UBA Plc Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said UBA as a bank is happy that it is touching lives and making solid impacts through this competition and the grant it gives out to those who emerge winners.
“Seeing past winners tell their stories on the impacts the grants have made on their education and particularly how the financial burden was lifted off their parents, give us joy that our foundation is unique and stands out from others in touching lives,” Uzoka said.
He informed the gathering comprising parents, students and media that the essay competition has produced 96 winners, since its inception in 2011 in Nigeria, with winners studying various courses in universities in Nigeria and African continent. “I must also state here that we want to make sure that the grants are given to those who really need it. That is why we restrict the support to schools within Africa alone. If by chance the parents of any winner sends his or her ward to an elite school outside Africa, we would not go ahead with that support, because what we are really after are those who really need the grant and contribute to the development of the Africa, Uzoka said.
He encouraged the winners to be of good character, and advised that apart from academic excellence, they must avoid any negative action that might dent the foundation’s image and that of their families.