A 16-year-old Master Esigbone Ferdinard of Roshallom International Secondary School, Egbeda, Lagos has emerged the overall winner in the 2019 edition of the Mike Okonkwo National Essay Competition for Secondary School students in Nigeria competition, having scored a total average of 68 percent.

The second position went to Oluwaseun Aremu of Shepherd International College, Ado-Ekiti with an average score of 61%, while Adeola AdemuwaIfeola from Chrisfield College, Itamaga, Ikorodu came third with a total average score of 60%.

The fourth position was a tie, with West Tamunonye also of Christfield College, Itamaga, Ikorodu, and Anazia Rita from Roshallom International School with a total average score of 56%.

Ajayi Ibukun of Fit-Charis International School and Olaitan Olajuwon of Chrisfield College, Itamagaboth took the fifth position respectively in the competition with an average score of 54%.

While announcing the 2019 results of the competition, the Chief Examiner, Professor Akachi Ezeigbo disclosed that a total of 612 essay entries were sent in for assessment, representing a drop of about 28% when compared to the 848 that were received and assessed last year. The drop does not indicate any waning of enthusiasm for the competition.

“On the contrary, feedback from teachers and students indicates that some schools in Lagos are now adopting the winning entries of this competition as models in their teaching of writing and rhetoric. As we understand it, the drop arises in part from new management strategies introduced by the organisers to ensure that only credible entries are sent in for assessment.

“Based on the positive feedback and to further the institutionalization of the Bishop Mike Okonkwo Lecture Series, we urge the organisers to put the winning entries in a book form, as had been done to the adult version of lectures, in order to make the materials more portable and accessible to teachers and students. Such a compilation will build capacity and prepare students for a more viable participation in future competitions. More importantly, it will be a unique addition to curriculum materials. We assure you that our winning essays are original materials from gifted students that can function adequately as teaching materials,” he said.

Speaking further, the examiner postulated that the teaching of responsible internet usage in secondary school curriculum has become very paramount and of necessity submitting that, “The fact that almost any material is available and accessible via a click makes a compelling case for us to introduce the teaching of responsible Internet usage in the secondary school curriculum.

“We recommend a review and expansion of the syllabus of a subject like civic education to include teaching students to understand that plagiarism violates Intellectual Property (IP) rights, and that referencing the literature they consult as they make their points is a key aspect of their academic development.”

In the first round of the 2019 edition of the competition, a total of 612 entries were received from Junior and Senior Secondary Schools across different states of the federation and the topic was ‘Justice as an Instrument of Enduring Peace in Nation building’ while the second round topic was ‘Entrenching Tolerance as Solution to Nigeria’s Ethnic and Religious Crises.’

For coming top in this year’s competition, Ferdinard will get a cheque of N100,000, a personal Laptop, a trophy, a plaque, while the school gets three sets of Computer and a printer. Aremu, who came second will go home with a cheque of N75,000, a plaque and the school will get two sets of computers and a printer. For emerging the third position in this year’s competition, AdemuwaIfeola will go home with a cheque of N50,000, a plaque and the school gets a computer set. The other winners will get a consolation price of N20,000.

The prices for the winners of the 16th Mike Okonkwo National Essay Competition for Secondary Schools in the country will be presented at this year’s Mike Okonkwo Annual Lecture, at the Shell Hall Muson Center, Onikan, Lagos, on Thursday September 5, 2019.  The theme for this year’s lecture is “Justice as an Instrument of Enduring Peace in Nation Building”. The Lecture will be chaired by Chief Folake Solanke (SAN) while the lecture will be delivered by Barrister Femi Falana (SAN).

Mike Okonkwo National Essay Competition was initiated in the year 2004, as part of activities to celebrate the birthday of the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, TREM, Dr. Mike Okonkwo and more importantly to contribute to the development of the Educational Sector.

Okonkwo has continued in this gesture for 16 years, using his God-given talent, strength and resources to be a blessing to the younger generation in the pursuit of academic excellence by encouraging them to cultivate the habit of reading and writing effectively.