Despite disruption of academic activities occasioned by outbreak of coronavirus in Nigeria, a 14-years-old girl, Eshiet Abasiekeme, shone bright among other 12 finalist of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Foundation National Essay Competition(NEC) after winning the 2020 edition alongside N2,500,000.00 educational grant.
Abasiekem, a student of Bright Stars Model Secondary School from Akwa-Ibom state, who took home this year’s winning prize was said to be among the ten girls out of twelve finalist of the tenth annual National Essay Competition(NEC) of the bank.
While the first prize went to Abasiekem, the second prize was awarded to 14-year-old Mofoluwake Adesanya of Spring Forte-Lead College Lagos State, who won a N2,000,000 educational grant, whilst the third prize of N1,500,000 went to Abdulganiyy Habeebah, a 16-years-old girl who attends the International School, University of Lagos.
Abasiekem, and the 11 other finalists during the virtual ceremony that was attended by high school students from across the nation, took home their brand new laptop computers to aid their competitive edge.
The top three educational grants winners would be supported throughout their throughout their educational career, while Abasiekem grant would allow her study in any African university of her choice and she would also be supported throughout her educational career and beyond with constant mentoring by the UBA Foundation.
Reacting to her price, Abasiekem who joined the virtual event from her base in Akwa Ibom said that the educational grant would allow her fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer.
“I feel honoured to be the winner of this year’s NEC, and I want to appreciate UBA and UBA Foundation as this will help towards my dream of becoming a lawyer,” she said proudly, expressing that she would like to go to university in Uyo in her home state.
Congratulating all the winners at the final event of the competition, the Managing Director/CEO of UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, who applauded all the participants for their exceptional brilliance, explained that the Foundation had taken into consideration the effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on lives and incomes across board and had increased the prize money by 33 per cent this year to help cushion any negative or inflationary effects.
“We are passionate about the annual NEC because it changes lives and helps to improve the quality of lives of students and their families. The NEC helps to improve the quality of writing and competitiveness amongst students. We have launched in more African countries this year and would have launched the initiative in 20 countries by the end of 2021. It is not just about writing essays, the ripple effect is really quite enormous, and we are glad that it is cascading to other countries where we operate.’ she said.
On his part, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of UBA Plc, Kennedy Uzoka, expressed satisfaction on the fact that more females emerged the 2020 winners, adding that notwithstanding the constraints and challenges of 2020, the Foundation received the highest number of entries at over 12,000 digital submissions.
“The NEC has been changing lives positively for 10 years, and we have awarded scholarships to students not just in Nigeria but in other parts of Africa like Ghana, Sierra Leone and Senegal. Some of these students are already graduates and contributing meaningfully to their communities’.
“To all 12 of you that have emerged finalists, I would like to congratulate you. If out of 12,000 entries you were able to make it to the top 12, that represents about 0.12% of the entries. You are no doubt, already a winner,” he said.