Oyindamola Aje, a 16-year-old student of Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has emerged winner of the second edition of the InterswitchSPAK National Science Competition held in Lagos.
He defeated eight other finalists in an intense quiz session to win the grand prize of N7.5 million worth of tertiary education scholarship. This scholarship will spread over five years. He also went away with a laptop and a monthly stipend for the duration of the scholarship fund.
The first runner-up, 15-year-old Oluwatobi Ojo of Apt Scholars Universal College, Ogun State won N4 million worth of scholarship spread over three years; while the second runner-up, 15-year-old Onyekachi Madumere from Scholars Universal Secondary School, Ogun State, received N1 million worth of scholarship for one year.
Oyindamola came tops after going through various levels of the competition. In his comments after the announcement, Oyindamola said he wasn’t looking forward to the competition as he did not know what to expect knowing he was competing against brilliant minds.
He said: “I am very happy that I won the InterswitchSPAK 2.0 first prize. It has been a very long and exciting journey for me and I am grateful to God that I am the overall winner. I did not see this coming at all but I’m very excited”.
Expressing his gratitude, Oyindamola said “I feel very proud to be part of a project that is giving students in Nigeria opportunities to utilize their talents and skills to impact the nation positively. I would like to use this opportunity to thank Interswitch for creating the InterswitchSPAK project and giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. I also want to thank my parents, teachers, friends and the other participants in the InterswitchSPAK competition. My success today is as a result of their support, encouragement and challenge. I thank them all.”
Another highlight of the day was the presentation of the Founder’s Award to Team Earth- winners of the Innovation Challenge. The team, made up of nine SS 2 students, collaborated to identify a problem in the agricultural value chain in Nigeria,proffered a solution, leveraging technology.
Each student, alongside their mentors were presented with a medal and a laptop. The nine students will also get a chance to partake in a two-week internship programme at Interswitch Group head office in Lagos during the long school holidays.
Mitchell Elegbe, MD/Founder Interswitch Group, in his opening remarks, stressed the importance of science and technology to the Nigeria economy.
He said: “Consistently as a nation and even a continent, we will keep having challenges, I am therefore challenging all of you seated here today to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to face these challenges and overcome them.”
Mitchell further urged the students to broaden and challenge their perspectives to think about the impact they can make in Nigeria using science and technology.
He advised young graduates to develop and explore skills that can help them become entrepreneurs rather than job seekers.
“These are interesting times to be young. Indeed these are great times to be an entrepreneur. With the huge advantage the internet portends, the increasing consciousness for mentorship and the plethora of success stories at your disposal, the Nigerian and African youth cannot but rise up to the occasion. As a matter of fact, I believe you all can do it, at least the InterswitchSPAK has proven that, twice,” he added.