Stakeholders have lauded the quest of Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to promote understanding of local content among youths via essay competition. The commendation is coming on the heels of the huge success recorded in the recently concluded 6th edition of the competition. Participating students were drawn from all over the country from year one to final year irrespective of state or religion. The competition is being anchored by a firm, Mahogany 21st Century Concept Limited, with sponsorship from the NCDMB. As one of the corporate social responsibilities of NCDMB and bearing in mind that education is the bed rock of every society, the Board has not reneged in sponsoring this programme while the consultant has tried to keep it afloat for six years on a stretch.
Concept of workshop
It is on the basis of the foregoing that the NCDMB annual national undergraduate essay competition was conceptualized and developed. The whole idea according to NCDMB was initiated as a strategic approach to further deepen the board’s established mandate focusing on the youths, who are indeed the real drivers of the Nigerian content initiative to enhance their understanding of the local content policy, so as to effectively position them to explore the opportunities in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. In the same vein, the exercise is a conscious attempt by the NCDMB aimed at promoting writing skills, analytical and research conduct potential of young Nigerian undergraduates in public and private universities and polytechnic in the country to stimulate academic excellence. For this year’s edition of the easy competition, the top ten emerged from different parts of the country. The winner of the competition always goes home with a million naira and a laptop while the second runner-up goes home with another huge money and a laptop. The same thing with the third person. The most interesting thing about this year’s competition was that all the ten finalists went home with laptops and consolation prizes while the first to the third position went home with money.
With this year’s topic as “Strategizing for transportation to clean energy in the changing global energy landscape; the NCDMB intervention”, a 200-level Political Science student of University of Ibadan, Ayotomiwa Elesho, carted away the N1 million and a laptop. The 23-year-old student from Odogbolu, Ogun State, is passionate about community building and has volunteered with no fewer than ten organizations. He aspires to graduate in the nearest future and utilize the education he has acquired to create positive change in Nigeria. Also, Victor Sunday, 23, from Ebonyi State, a student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, emerged second winning a price of N700, 000, while Bayelsa-born Doutimibraladei Timothy Frank, a 100 level student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Federal University of Otuoke, emerged third with a price of N500, 000. Others included: Jonah Bonaventure Alidor from Ebonyi state, fourth position; Abdullah Yaqub from Oyo state, fifth position and Oluwafela Bibire, sixth position.
Speaking to the winners at the presentation ceremony which took place recently in Yenagoa, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, noted that it was heartwarming that the Board has sustained the sponsorship of the competition for six years, saying it speaks volume of the importance of the competition and the impact it is making among the target participants. Represented by Head, Corporate Communication, Esueme Dan- Kikile, Wabote said that NCDMB will continue to introduce programmes that will engage Nigerian youths especially the undergraduates. He said: “It is heartwarming that NCDMB has sustained this important event for the last six years. It speaks volume of the importance of the impact it is making among the targeted audience and participants. “The NCDMB began to sponsor this competition because we understood the need to inculcate the local content consciousness among undergraduates in our higher institutions to make them understand the local content economy.
The intervention policy
“This is one of NCDMB’s multiple intervention to uplift the standard of education in Nigeria. It aims to promote proficiency in writing, awareness of local content and give benefit to the local economy. “I can tell you that NCDMB has several intervention programmes for young people. Literacy and effective communication are critical to citizens’ engagement and sustainable local content. “We are building a group of young people from every strata of the academia that can be able to put their thoughts in writing. The annual national undergraduates’ essay competition is one of NCDMB’s multiple interventions to lift the standard of education in Nigeria. “It aims to promote proficiency in writing, awareness of local content and its benefit to the national economy and to engender citizen engagement from undergraduate level. “The topic was expected to stimulate the young ones to deploy their creativity in capturing the strategies that should be considered in transiting into cleaner energy as well as appraise the board’sinterventions in this light. I received feedbacks that the participants have done well.
“As we may be aware, in March 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari declared the years 2021 to 2030 as Nigeria’s decade of gas and announced the Federal Government’s determination to fully exploit the nation’s abundant gas resources to accelerate the economic development of Nigeria. This declaration aligns fully with the rising global demand for cleaner energy sources. “Also, in August 2022, the Federal Government launched the energy transition plan which was applauded by the United States Government for being the first in the African continent. “This is why we chose the topic of this year’s competition to focus on strategizing for transformation to clean energy landscape, the NCDMB intervention”. The Chairman of the occasion, Inatimi Rufus Spiff, in his opening remarks, noted that the topic for the essay competition couldn’t have been more apt considering the effects of climate change ravaging the global landscape where nations now look for alternative sources of energy.
He said since its establishment, the NCDMB has impacted and enhanced local participation in the oil and gas industry in an appreciable manner. He continued: “The era where artisans and other unskilled personnel were brought from abroad to work in the oil and gas industry even where local capacity abound has become a thing of the past. “The world appears concerned about the level of carbon emission principally from oil and gas exploration activities which is suspected to be responsible for a number of environmental hazards globally. This has informed the conveyance of a number of global conferences to strategize on alternative energy sources. “To NCDMB, the organizing institution, I wish to thank the management and staff for the initiative which in all ramifications is worthy of emulation”.
Expert hail competition
Also speaking, Eyinimi Omorozi, the Chief Executive Officer of Mahogany 21st Century Concepts Limited, described the competition as one of the biggest flagship event of NCDMB, adding that the board has been supporting the competition because they have seen success. He said: “In the next five years, we want to see the competition grow, where it will be recognized all over the world so that Nigerians outside will participate in the programme. “The last six years has been very interesting and wonderful. We have grown from strength to strength. The essay competition has been very effective. It has been one of the flagship events of NCDMB and it is all about building capacities and competences, which means it is a youth-driven project. “A programme like this that has to do with youths falls very well around NCDMB’s established mandate. The board has been supporting it because they have seen the success and it is projecting the NCDMB in a very positive light and it is achieving its desired purpose. “In the next five years, we are expecting this programme to grow like an institution where all over the world, it will become recognized. “Our students are all over the place in the diaspora. We want Nigerians outside to be able to participate in this programme and it is going to give NCDMB a huge mileage.
Mode of selection
“On the mode of selection, everything is ICT based. We take it from a blind assessment, where no name or school will be displayed. So, you can be an assessor marking the script of your son without knowing. The only time you know who is who is for all those thousands is when you get to the final stage. “And at this stage, the system brigs it out and you begin to see the names. Even at that too, they will come and face a panel like you are defending your PhD thesis before the winner will emerge”. Elesho, the winner of the competition, in his reaction, thanked the organizers of the programme and thousands of students that took part in the competition. He said: “I want to thank all thousands of students that took part in this competition, but were not selected. I was once there. I have written loads of essays, but I wasn’t selected. So, I encourage them to continue trying and put in more efforts”.