BY IKENNA ASOMBA
Through dint of hard work, focus, determination and mother luck, 17-year-old, Caleb Uzuegbunam of Unique Tutorials, Ikotun, Lagos, last Thursday, carted home a Nissan Starlet car, after beating over 15, 000 school-leavers to come top at the 2014 Most Brilliant Student in Nigeria (MBSM) competition held at the Indoor Sport Hall of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka.
The mind-pulsating three-phased intellectual test, which was organized by the Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO) and solely sponsored by Fidelity Bank Plc, saw Uzuebgunam beating four other finalists in the third round of the competition that initially kicked-off with over 15,000 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidates (Jambites), drawn from various tutorial academies across the country.
Meanwhile, Situ Otito of Pass4Sure Concept, Lagos and Funmilayo Ajala of Bachel Academy, Akoka, who came first and second runners-up, bagged a one-year ATSO scholarship and Galaxy Tablets respectively.
Speaking at the event, the Branch Leader, Fidelity Bank Plc, Akoka Branch, Wale Badmus said: “Fidelity Bank Plc decided to support this brilliant initiative because they say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Considering that there is a transition period between when a student graduates from secondary school and when he gets admitted into the university or any other tertiary institution, we discovered that these section of people are presently being neglected. So, while waiting at home, if they are not meaningfully engaged, their minds go into so many things.
“We have been having the Beauty Pageants, where we celebrate the most beautiful girl in Nigeria and so many other awards, but not in the academic line. That’s the reason why we decided to support this initiative for the Most Brilliant Student in Nigeria.
“We believe this will encourage our youths while they are waiting to be admitted into tertiary institutions, to continue reading at home and not engaging in various social vices. Events like this, if sustained, will definitely prepare them and keep them busy, while they await admission into the university.”
The Ag. President, ATSO, Mr. Sodunke Michael said: “the essence of the competition is to encourage and bring back majority of our youths towards the pursuit of academic excellence, as it has been observed that majority of them are tilting towards music, acting, football and entertainment in general. They believe that if they are not beautiful or handsome, they can’t become a star. So ATSO, realised that no one has given attention to our students and youths that are brilliant.
“What we did was to go to tutorial academies across the six geo-political zones of the country to pick the best students after testing them. We were able to get over 15, 000 students, who were further tested to arrive at the 3,000 students.
“In the second round, 50 best students were chosen, which further downsized to five finalists. But at the end of the day, just one student took home with the Nissan Starlet car,” adding “it is unfortunate that the standard of our education is on the decline, but it is not dead.
“So, we believe that government and corporate bodies could actually help us. With this kind of programme, you will to a large extent see serious change in the level of the decline.”
Uzuegbunam, who applied for Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ibadan (UI), however, expressed optimism that “through dint of hard work, focus, determination and mother luck, I am going to be admitted this year at the University of Ibadan. Going away with this coveted prize of a Nissan Starlet shows that I’ve prepared adequately for this competition, my UTME Computer-Based Test and the forthcoming UI Post-UTME. With this new status, I will always represent ATSO as a good ambassador wherever I find myself.”
Some of the tutorial academies that participated in the competition were Pathfinder Tutorials, Surulere; Way to Campus Tutorial, Akoka; Pass4Sure Concept, Lagos; Bachel Academy, Akoka; Career Builders Academy, Iwaya, among others.