•From left: Mrs Ofovwe Aig-Imokhuede; Mr. Tunde Folawiyo, Chairman, NSSF; Michael Ogbochukwu, Winner of the WeNaija Photography Competition; Mrs Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli, Board Member , NSSF; AigbojeAig-Imokhuede, Board Member , NSSF; and Nigerian singer, TY Bello at the WeNaija Prize Presentation and Photo Exhibition held at the Coronation Gallery, Lagos.

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Winners of the WeNaija Photography Competition tagged: Visions of Nigeria, emerged last week during an exhibition of the top 100 images selected from hundreds of entries received.

Organised by the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund, NSSF, the WeNaija Photo Contest which came to an end with the exhibition held at the Coronation Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos, saw Michael Ogbochukwu, taking the top position and was rewarded with N500,000 for his photo titled: The Abnormal Normal; Joshua Iragbie for his photo titled: Nigeria In COVID-19 and Onoseizame Dele-Damisa (Isolated), came 2nd and third, and received N300,000 and N200,000 respectively.

In the competition, the NSSF engaged young Nigerians to artistically capture, through the lens, Nigeria’s Covid-19 experience. The photographs all reflect not only how the pandemic has impacted Nigerians but also how the people have been able to live through its impact.
Each of the images therefore, tells a different story; real life stories in real life situation. The choice of photography, according to the organisers, was because social media made taking photos very easy, especially as they believe every Nigerian youth has a mobile phone.

Out of over 400 entries received, the top 100 images selected were showcased at Coronation Gallery during the exhibition. It was preceded by a live auction of top 20 photographs on Bonham’s website, a partner of the NSSF on the WeNaija Photography contest, and a leading online auction vendor in the UK, with affiliations in major cities across the world.

Chairman of NSSF Board, Tunde Folawiyo, said: “The exhibition highlights the creative ability of everyday people, demonstrates the depth and ubiquity of talent, and showcases the determination to work productively and contribute positively to society by our young people. We believe that the WeNaija Photography Contest provided creative Nigerians a platform to showcase their works and an opportunity to do so on a grand scale.”

According to him: “The photos on display here, are selected through public votes. This was more than a photography competition; it is a major awareness campaign to focus attention on how people are coping and living amid a global pandemic – the COVID-19 pandemic. These pictures here, reflect the reality of people in these challenging times.”

A board member and past Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc., AigbojeAig-Imoukhuede, said the campaign was about creating a platform for every young Nigerian creative to frame their best shot by telling real-life situations, showing how people are learning to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.

“The images here, were taken largely by non-professional photographers, yet they capture symbolic moments that demonstrated how Nigerians had been adapting to and are working to overcome the economic, health, education and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ogbochukwu who was excited for coming tops, said “I only applied for the sake of accountability to the one who shared the competition details with me. Coming tops gives me confidence that the future is bright for not only me, but also my fellow creatives.”
Nigeria’s elegant singer, T.Y. Bello,who was one of the judges, praised the level of creativity rising steadily among young people. “It is good to see that photography is a language everybody now speaks without owning a camera. A mobile phone is all you need. Also, the average Nigerian is beginning to understand visual languages as a part of our culture.”

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