It was indeed a singular august occasion when on Monday, August 27, a date that marked the 27th anniversary of the creation of the Anambra State, Governor Willie Obiano welcomed home from the United States the world-beating students who won the World Technovation competition. Call it 27-27!
It is now a fact of recorded recent history that Anambra State put Nigeria on top of the technology map of the world after a global contest in which students of Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, Anambra State who represented Nigeria and Africa at the World Technovation Challenge in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA won the coveted Gold Medal on the night of Thursday, August 9, 2018.
The stellar girls defeated other contestants from supposedly more technologically-advanced countries, notably host nation USA, China, Spain, Turkey and Uzbekistan. The world-beating girls are Adaeze Onuigbo, Nwabuaku Osai, Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Vivian Okoye and Miracle Igboka. They were led by their teacher Mrs. Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, the CEO of Edufun Technik STEM.
The irrepressible girls beat all-comers in the World Pitch Challenge by developing a mobile application called the FD-Detector that tackles the challenge of fake drugs and sundry pharmaceutical products.
The then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was prompt in congratulating the young girls for doing Nigeria proud by winning the 2018 Technovation World Pitch in USA. Osinbajo posted the laudatory message under the picture of the girls as they were being decorated with their gold medals in the USA on his Twitter handle @ProfOsinbajo on Friday, August 10: “These young ladies in Junior Secondary School developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problems of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. Yesterday, they won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch in California. Congratulations. We are proud of you.”
Now the all-conquering girls are back home from the United States and have been grandly received by a visibly buoyant Governor Obiano who bestowed a million naira on each of the students. Their instructor, Mrs. Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, got two million naira, the same amount given to the principal of the school, Reverend Father Vincent Ezeaka.
Governor Obiano used the occasion to restate as ever his unequivocal commitment to the uplift of education. To put this tradition of excellence in education in perspective, it needs to be recalled that Obiano himself was the winner of the John F. Kennedy Memorial essay Competition organized by the American Embassy in 1974 when he was a student of Christ the King College, (CKC) Onitsha!
The Governor was joined in the reception of the history-making girls by the first female governor in Nigeria, Dame Virgy Etiaba, herself a distinguished educationist. Also on hand on day of the welcome were Senator Victor Umeh, Mrs Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu, former Anambra State Deputy-Governor Emeka Sibeudu, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Dr Paulinus Ezeokafor, the Auxiliary Bishop Dr Jonas Benson Okoye, and the Bishop on the Niger (Anglican Communion) Right Reverend Owen Chidozie Nwokolo.
The Archbishop of Onitsha, Dr Valerian Okeke, who turned a former social centre into the world-beating Regina Pacis Model School, was duly represented.
The world champions had spent five months researching and developing FD-Detector, which swept through over 2000 competing applications to get to the finals in San Francisco. On their participation in the Technovation contest, team leader Mrs. Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu informs: “The chances of emerging as finalists seemed very odd because other countries appeared to be more advanced in technology than these girls who for the first time are using the internet and opening an email account for the first time in their lives. The determination in them and the passion to solve problems of fake drugs kept their hopes alive as they knew it was a lifetime opportunity.”
After astoundingly winning the world contest, the girls spent time in America attending field trips, and participating in life-changing workshops including a networking session. Governor Obiano provided for the girls to have a good rest period in the United States.
In another heroic vein, Miss Tochukwu Anyigbo, from Ihiala in Anambra State who is studying in Lagos, participated in this year’s International Artificial Intelligence Competition in Mexico courtesy of Governor Willie Obiano, and took the second position. She will be equally received by a grateful Governor Obiano like the pacesetting schoolgirls of Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha.
The all-encompassing attention given to education by the government can be put in perspective through the words of Mr. C. Don Adinuba, Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, thus: “A state which has produced Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alex Ekwueme, Ukpabi Asika, Louis Mbanefo, Emeka Anyaoku, Arthur Mbanefo, Chike Obi, Kenneth Dike, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo and Olaudah Equiano, among other internationally renowned personages, has to be the pacesetter in enlightenment and enthronement of enduring and productive values.”
It’s indeed an uplifting epoch in educational accomplishment in Anambra State under the charge of Governor Willie Obiano.