NNPC’s Platform to Greatness

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Yakubu with 2013 winners

The annual national quiz competition instituted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation 14 years ago, has provided a platform for participants and winners to excel in their chosen disciplines

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug. 4, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has lived up to expectations in the past four decades as a federal government agency. In addition to the statutory functions of safeguarding federal government’s interest in its dealings with international stakeholders in the hydrocarbon value-chain to ensuring and sustaining a stable supply of petroleum products  to the nation’s filling stations, the corporation has never shied away from its core responsibilities.

This, indeed, informed the corporation’s interest in education as the foundation on which nations are built, most importantly, science and technical education. According to it, science and technical education remain the cornerstone of industrial growth and advancement especially among the global super powers. It is in realization of this fact that the NNPC decided to make science and technical education as the key fulcrums upon which an appreciable percentage of its corporate social responsibility, CSR, is anchored. This burning desire to redefine the concept of CSR prompted the corporation to establish an Annual National Quiz Competition in 2001.

Some of the particicpants
Some of the particicpants

For starters, the NNPC Annual National Quiz Competition was an off-shoot of an NNPC-sponsored Niger Delta Science Quiz Competition held in 2000. Following its resounding success that year, the NNPC moved a notch higher to sponsor and stage the competition at a national level and ever since, that is to say in the last 14 years, the corporation has never looked back.

Every year, the competition starts from the grassroots level where students of various secondary schools within a state slug it out in core science subjects of English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. After the state level contests, three winners from the state move to the zonal contest where the various states in the nation’s six geo-political zones compete among themselves. From there on, the best six states will emerge to represent their zones at the grand finale which usually takes place at the NNPC Towers in Abuja.

Over the years, the competition has been characterised by very keen and healthy contests from the participating states, all borne out of the sincere desire and commitment of the participating students to do well.  It is, indeed, noteworthy that in such healthy rivalry, the students adequately prepare themselves towards the rigours of their Secondary School Certificate Examination, SSCE, which usually comes up shortly after the quiz competition, as well as the challenges of tertiary education. The state governments, and no least the students, are very proud to be part of this positive development.

As a responsible corporate citizen, the NNPC has always given the national quiz contest the attention it deserves. This is because the competition aims at: supporting the massive federal government campaigns towards uplifting the standard of education in the country; stimulating the interest of the younger ones in the study of sciences; creating an atmosphere of challenge within the nation’s schools in order to improve teaching and learning processes; sharing ideas and building a solid foundation for science development within Nigeria, and promote unity among the various youths of the country.

Apart from the above noble objectives, it is also safe to say that the NNPC Annual National Quiz Competition presents a great challenge to the participating students. This is the challenge of working hard to do a great deal of honour to themselves and their families, as well as putting their respective schools and states in national limelight and for the right reasons. It has always been a heavy responsibility, which, happily the students’ young shoulders have learnt to carry.

Yakubu with some of the participants
Yakubu with some of the participants

It is therefore heart-warming to say that from the responses the corporation has received over the years, these cardinal objectives are being met. A number of students, who were -or are still- on NNPC’s sound scholarship scheme (where each member of the victorious state at the national finals receives the sum of N100, 000 each year as bursary throughout their study duration) have excelled- and are still excelling in their respective disciplines in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

For instance, Sunday John Aliyu from Edo State, who was among the winners of the inaugural competition in 2001, went ahead to bag a First Class Degree in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the University of Benin and a Distinction in his Masters (Computer Science and Engineering) at the African University of Science and Technology, Abuja. He also did another Masters with Distinction at the prestigious Imperial College, London. Currently, Aliyu is an employee of Total Upstream Nigeria Limited where he works as a Database Engineer on the company’s Egina project in Lagos.

 Also, Olatunde Kehinde Israel, a winner of the 2010 annual competition, represented Nigeria at a contest to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, in Vienna, Austria. At the competition which saw the 12 member countries of the organisation taking part, Nigeria emerged second, just few points behind the eventual winner from Venezuela. This was a no mean feat not only for the Olatundes and his state but also for the NNPC and Nigeria.

From its inception till date, a close look at the over seventy winners of the  Annual National Quiz Competition has revealed that a number of them have become or are on the verge of becoming medical doctors, pharmacists, microbiologists, physiotherapists, neuro-surgeons, human anatomists, zoologists, engineers (agricultural, chemical, electrical, mechanical, civil, environmental and even aeronautical), computer analysts/programmers,, IT technicians, mathematicians and economists. All these have become possible as a result of the great opportunity presented to them by the NNPC through the annual quiz contest.

The impact of the Annual National Quiz Competition is simply immeasurable. In a nation where education has continuously posed a challenge for both parents and authorities, the NNPC quiz initiative is a welcome development. If anything, it has helped towards the development of science and technical education in the country. In all these heart-warming development, the most significant news is that as a public- spirited organisation, the NNPC will continue to assist the nation’s future leaders-particularly the children of the less-privileged to prepare towards contributing their own quota to national growth and industrial development.

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