Sixteen year old Akachukwu Anumudu of Apostolic Faith Secondary School, Anthony, Lagos, on Saturday, February 9, 2019, emerged winner of the first edition of the InterswitchSPAK National Science Competition held in Lagos – Nigeria. He beat eight other contestants in an intense quiz session to win the grand prize of N7.5 million worth of tertiary education scholarship spread over five years, a laptop and a monthly stipend during the course of the scholarship.
The first runner-up was 16-year-old Henry Umunna of the Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja. Umunna won N4 million worth of scholarship spread over three years; while the second runner-up, 16-year-old Onyedikachi Kanu from Dority International School, Aba, got N1m worth of scholarship for one year.
Akachukwu came tops after advancing through various levels of the competition. Expressing his gratitude, Akachukwu said he never expected to make it this far, explaining that competitions like this would help in discovering brighter young stars in Nigeria.
He said: “Whenever I see people win at competitions, I always wondered if I could ever get that lucky. But now, I know it’s beyond luck and I am glad that all my sleepless nights and hard work paid off. I am very grateful to Interswitch because they made me who I am today. Before now, I was very shy and reserved, but my whole experience at the InterswitchSPAK 1.0 has helped build my confidence and prepared me for the future”.
Another highlight of the day was the presentation of the Founder’s Award to Team Neptune- winners of the Innovation Challenge. The team made up of nine SS2 kids, collaborated to develop a technology-driven solution aimed at providing Nigerians with easier access to National Health Insurance. Each student was presented with a medal and a laptop. The nine students also get a chance to partake in a two-week internship programme at Interswitch Group’s head office in Lagos during the holidays.
Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director/Founder, Interswitch Group, said that his company is particularly passionate about the healthcare sector and is already working on the proposal that emerged from the Innovation Challenge. He added that the winning team will get to join the Interswitch team to further develop the proposed solution.
After presenting the cheque of N7.5 million to the grand winner, Elegbe, in his short remarks,reiterated the importance of emotional Intelligence.He said: “You have emerged winner of this competition and that makes you a very special person. However, you must remember that although having a high IQ is necessary, it is not sufficient for success in life. We hope you will take all you have learnt during this competition and apply it where necessary. We wish you greater success in life and we will be with you every step of the way”.
Mr. Abubakar M. Gana, Acting Registrar/Chief Executive, National Examinations Council (NECO) in his address, drew a connection between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and national development. “STEM education, if adequately pursued, can be described as the bedrock of any nation’s technological take-off or development. The era of pen-paper quiz has given way to technology. Quiz administration is now computerized as we can see here at InterswitchSPAK 1.0”, he said.
He also lauded Interswitch for their investment in the competition as well as for being a major player in Nigeria’s economy through their electronic payment system which eases business transactions.
Besides the three major prize winners, the other six contestants were awarded N500,000 each, as consolation prizes for earning a spot in the ‘Top 9’. 15-year-old Glory Okoli of Ambassadors College, Ota, was gifted an additional N250,000 by the Interswitch boss for being the last female standing in the competition.