By Anote Ajeluorou
The 10th edition of Chevron-sponsored National Art Competition for Secondary School has produced winners. This was at a glittering award and exhibition ceremony held on Tuesday at MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. It had a gathering of students from different schools from across the country who had come to cheer their mates who scaled the initial hurdles out of 600 entries from 400 schools to emerge top 10 each in the Junior and Senior Secondary School categories.
In the end, Joshua Abel won in the Junior Secondary School category while Christopher Ukaegbu won in the Senior Secondary School category. This drew resounding applause from students, teachers and guests present in sheer appreciation of artistic ingenuity. Abel attends Oto Awori Junior Grammar School, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Lagos while Ukaegbu attends Hallel College Boarding, Port Harcourt. With ‘Grow Your Ideas’ as general theme for the contest, this year’s specific theme was ‘Protecting People and the Environment,’ which saw the student artists interpreting it in various ways.
But somehow, the works of two Junior Secondary Students – Olawunki Olanrewaju of Harrobs College, Alapere-Ketu, Lagos and Olatiboye Temiloluwa also of Harrobs College – on renewable energy failed to make even third place. Even the work of Azike Anita of Charles dale Memorial International School, Port Harcourt, condemning gas flaring by oil companies, with its attendant harmful effects on human beings and the environment, also failed to hit a distant third place mark.
Other winners include second placed Joshua Odonsi of Hallel College Boarding, Port Harcourt and third place, Godwin Hodonu of Beulah Comprehensive College, Badagry, Lagos in the Junior category. Onyedikachi Egbebu of Harrobs College, Lagos, second and third place, Wilson Imini of Federal Government College, Keffi, Nassarawa State in the Senior category.
But in all it was a contest where young ideas come to the fore in understanding and interpreting issues relating to the health of the environment and how it is everybody’s duty to keep it safe from man’s harmful practices.
According to Chairman/Managing Director, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Clay Neff, “In 2005, when Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) set out to organize the maiden edition of this competition, we had no doubt that it was going to be a success. That was because we knew that Nigeria is blessed with talented young men and women.
“Ten years down the road, the level of success and acceptance is truly astounding. This year, we had hundreds of exceptional entries out of which our judges have chosen the most outstanding 20 for the purpose of prize-giving. It shows how well the competition has gone in providing our kid-artists a veritable platform of artistic expression. It is important to note that former winners of the competitor have gone ahead to higher institutions to study fine arts, graphic design, engineering and other courses.
“Why does CNL, an oil and gas company, sponsor Art Competition one may ask? Celebrating the arts is in line with the company’s Social Investment (SI) programmes which are aimed at contributing to the development of education, health and the socio-economy. Moreover, at Chevron we hold diversity as one of our core values. Diversity is not just a buzz word to us; we value and encourage diversity of thoughts and perspectives. Thus, by partnering with the Federal Ministry of Education to sponsor the National Art Competition, we are keeping faith with the company’s values of partnership and respect for culture and diversity.
“The sponsorship of the competition is also in line with Chevron’s vision of helping Nigeria lay a foundation of creative and productive youths, who, by virtue of their education, can stand tall amongst their peers in any part of the world. Through the vehicle of art we are challenging our youths to develop problem-solving and team building skills while not losing their competitive dispositions. Our sponsorship is also aimed at giving participants the opportunity to express their multiple perspectives of our environment, as there are many ways to see and interpret the world, and hone their skills.
“Researchers have shown that skills learned through participation in the visual arts help to equip youth for the challenges they will face in shaping the future. According to Elliot Eisner, Art Education Researcher and Scholar in his The Ten Lessons The Art Teach, visual arts are essential to a high-quality and balanced education”.
ON his part, Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr. Dafe Sejebor, said, “The event seeks to stimulate the Nigerian Secondary School Students’ interest in the study of fine and creative arts, promote healthy competition and develop their capacity for young children to see themselves as future entrepreneurs. We also believe that our students can attain academic excellence not only in science subjects but also in Fine and Creative Arts.
The objective of the competition is not only to promote creativity in the Nigerian child but also to provoke an early awareness of the environment for the Nigerian Child. I want to use this opportunity to reassure you that efforts are being intensified to ensure that this event runs continuously on a long term basis and that all participating students are properly catered for.
This edition of the competition marks another opportunity for us to develop and showcase our young talents under the theme ‘Protecting People and the Environment…’”
Also representing Lagos State Deputy Governor and Commissioner for Education, was Hon. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, who commended the organisers and said the contest would help to bring out the entrepreneurial spirit of young people. He said it was a celebration of passion and excellence and a way to reward the students and the schools. Bank-Olemoh said education is a great investment in developing a morally upright generation and charged stakeholders to do more in this regard.
Wife of the state governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, represented by Mrs. Abiodun Opeifa commended Chevron for giving back to society through sponsorship of the contest and charged every individual to emulate the oil company by always helping out those in need. She also said art is a way “to channel the creative energy of young Nigerians to make a living”.
Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Hajia Hindatu Abdullahi, represented by Rev. Chris Ogorji, stressed the importance of art to human development, as it “enhances the process of learning and nourishes the integrated sensory organs such as the cognitive, emotional and psychomotor capacities. In fact, the research shows that art is the driving force behind all other learning… A holistic education involves not only classroom activities of reading and writing, but the ability to express ideas and issues through art…
“The NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture is collaborating with the ministry through this programme to preserve ourtoday for posterity and also encourage creativity among our youths… We owe our young ones a duty to revitalize their minds, commitment and vision towards making Nigeria a better place”.