When the United Bank of Africa, Plc, popular, Pan African Bank, described as one of the most solid Banks in the African Continent, and the Foundation, under the close watch of Bola Atta, who incidentally is the Head of the Bank Corporate Affairs Competition, Launched the yearly National Essay Competition, for secondary schools Students in 2011, not many believe that it will become very popular, that Students in both the West and Central African sub-region , including Nigeria, would be rushing to put in entries because of the educational grants involved which run into millions.
The essay Competition which is organized every year in Nigeria and the nineteen other African countries, where the Pan African Bank has established presence had continued to produce fantastic results. Informed sources told The Value News that the Pan African Bank had initiated the NEC, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR pillar, aimed at ‘’promoting reading culture, encouraging healthy and intellectual Competition amongst Students in Secondary Schools in the African Continent.
Kennedy Uzoka, the Bank, Managing Director, and officials of the Foundation, have continued to come up with new programmes, on how cater for the interest both the young and the old in the society. In encouraging Secondary Schools Students in the African Continent at the initial stage to take the essay Competition serious,, Uzoka, the UBA Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said that winners would be given opportunity to win a scholarship grant for their university to the limits of Le 50million, Le 40million and Le 20million for the first, second and third positions respectively . The Prize had continued to be increased on a yearly basis, according to an insider, in order not to dampen the enthusiasm of Students to participate in the NEC. ‘’Like we did in 2020, this year, we have also increased the prizes to match the rising cost of living in the country and other parts of the world’’,he had said.
The UBA boss, had said that it had continued to touch lives and making a solid impact in the society’’. He noted that the NEC, which had started in 2011, ‘’produced hundreds of winners, some of them have long graduated from tertiary Institutions and have been impacting on their Communities’’.
As a prelude to ensuring that clear-cut winners this year, the grand finale was said to have been held at the Tony Elumelu, Amphitheater at the Bank Corporate Head office, Marina, Lagos, in a ceremony that was said to have been well-attended by students, teachers, parents staff of UBA and government officials, across the African country. The Judges may have done a good work as a 15-year-old Ms.Esther Eziaku, a Student of ‘’His Grace High School. Enugu, south east Nigeria’’, essay was to have been edged the best by the Pannel of Judges and subsequently declared the overall winner of the NEC, on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, amidst cheers.
Indeed, this is the fifth uninterrupted year that female Students had won the UBA NEC, beating the male Students to it. Ms. Eziaku, was said to have beat 11 other Finalists selected from the well over 17,000 entries received digitally by the Foundation from Students in various Senior Secondary Schools across Nigeria.
In fulfilling with its promise, the Bank was said to have given an educational grant of N3 million to Ms.Eziaku, the winner, to study at any African university of her choice, to the admiration of her parents, Teachers and the state government officials. She was said to said to have also received a brand –new state- of the art- Laptop from the UBA Foundation.
Those who think that the UBA Foundation officials will abandon Ms. Eziaku, to manage herself with the N3 million educational grant would be disappointed. This is because the Pan African Bank Foundation officials have given their words that ‘’ throughout her educational career and beyond Ms, Eziaku, and the two others , who the second and third place position, would be supported with constant mentoring to remain on focus’’.
Mrs. Chika Joy Eziaku, Esther’s mother, who had escorted her to the NEC grand finale in Lagos, was so excited that that her daughter came top in in the highly Competitive essay Competition for Secondary School s Students in Nigeria, stating that ‘’the experience has bolstered her Confidence to succeed in her educational pursuit’’. Mrs. Eziaku, who could her feelings had declared, ‘’I am so grateful to the UBA Foundation for this great opportunity given to my daughter to exercise her mental prowess’’.
In apparent response, to her being the overall winner of the UBA Foundation, NEC,, the 15 year –old Ms Eziaku, had said she was able to make it to the grand finale and finally clinch the top position as she had studied hard and conducted a lot of research work’, describing ” it as not an easy task’’.
. ‘’I am happy that it paid off for me’’, she had said. She may have gladdened the heart of her parents, Teachers and well-wishers when she disclosed that the opportunity to participate in the UBA essay Competition has’’ changed her world- view of life for good and made her want ‘’ to learn more, read more and aspire to become a better person in the society ’’. I really appreciative to UBA Group and the Foundation for the great opportunity, she further remarked.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the UBA Foundation education initiative has changed many lives over the last 10 years as the tertiary education scholarship programme had continued to impact on the lives of Students and their Communities at large.
Ms. Eziaku, may have won the first position of the UBA Foundation NEC, but the second prize was bagged by One Nduka Chukwuemeka , a male student, aged 17, of Oxfords International School, Abia state, who was given a educational grant of N2.5million and a new Laptop while the third prize went to 15 year-old Hajarat Abdulwahab of Addy Basic School, Kano, north west Nigeria who was said to have gotten an education grant of N2 million and a brand new Laptop. The other nine Finalists who had participated in the UBA Foundation essay Competition were said to have received brand new Laptops and other Consolation prizes, including books and Learning materials.
While Congratulating the winners for their exceptional brilliance, Atta, the UBA Foundation, CEO,asserted that ‘’every Student who had sent in an entry is a winner’’, stressing that ‘’to be Confident about your writing skills and ambitious enough to enter into the Competition to further enhance your educational path is Laudable’’. Appealing to those who did not win not to feel discouraged, but ‘’to take it as a challenge to perfect their writing skills and enter for the Competition next year’’, she is optimistics that they may win.
Given an insider information of the Foundation, being the CRS, arm of the Pan African Bank, she averred that makes it a point of duty ‘’to give back to Communities where the Bank Operates’’. She reiterated that the UBA group is ‘’Committed to the socio-economic betterment of societies in which it operates, ‘’ focusing on development of education as the bedrock of any nation’, environment, Economic Empowerment and Special Projects’’. She had said that ‘’the UBA Foundation, NEC, has been rolled out to other African including Ghana, Senegal, Siera Leone, Guinea, with plans for more footprints in 2022’’.