Sixteen-year-old Emmanuel Ejiogu Onyekachi of Miketoy College, Ikotun, Lagos State, made history as he emerged winner of the maiden edition of PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge (PZCCC). The SS3 pupil beat off competition from three others at the grand finale held in Lagos last weekend. He came first in each stage of the competition which had 1,270 candidates in stage one, 97 in stage two and four finalists; garnering a cumulative score of 83.5 per cent. For his feat, Emmanuel was rewarded with N700, 000, a laptop, a trophy and gold medal, while his chemistry teacher, Mr Jossy Ogunniyi got N100, 000, Chemistry books worth N100, 000 were also presented to his school. Commissioner for Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye who was represented by the Director of Private Education and Special Programmes, Mrs Sewanu Amosu, lauded PZ Cussons for rekindling the passion for sciences in secondary schools. “Lagos State Government appreciates PZ Cussons for starting this off in Lagos. It shows that all is not lost in Nigeria.
We still have hope; all we need to do is to continue to groom the children and have the right teachers who conscientious and committed. I am also happy that they remembered the teachers. They were also rewarded as the saying goes that teachers’ rewards are not only in heaven,” she said. Mrs Amosu implored students to do more in terms of their academic activities. “Once you are in school, learn and pay attention to what the teacher is saying. You should read outside the syllabus. Not just go on the Internet to surf all these social media alone. You can gain a lot from the Internet; like you have people solving Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and other subjects problem now on the Internet,” she said. Chief Nike Akande, a Director, PZ Industries and former Minister of Industries, said she was happy with the outcome of the competition, especially with the winner, Emmanuel. “This award today is to encourage students to have interest in Chemistry. And you can see that some of the students are very intelligent. One was coming top all the time; there were many schools in Lagos State that put in for the competition and one student was consistently coming first. This is a great achievement for our country. There is hope,” she assured. Obi Uchenna David of Barachel College, Ifako-Agege, the first runner-up with 62.2 per cent, was presented with a cheque of N500, 000, a laptop and silver medal, while his chemistry teacher, Mr Ojo Sunday also went home with N60, 000. His school also had chemistry books worth N50, 000. With a cumulative score of 56 per cent, Mgbemena Thankgod of Leeland International College, Oregun-Ikeja, finished as second runner-up and got N400,000 cash prize, a laptop and bronze medal. His chemistry teacher, Mr Ugwoke Johnson Ikenna, won N40,000 while his school received N50,000 worth of chemistry books.
Third runner-up Victor Ike-Okoro of Top Grade Secondary School, Surulere pulled a total of 44 per cent and had a cash prize of N300, 000, a laptop and a consolation medal while his chemistry teacher, Mr Odinibe John Nnani got N20, 000 and his school had N50,000 worth of chemistry books. Relieved at the end of the rigorous final stage, which included a practical session, Emmanuel expressed gratitude to God, his parents, teachers and the organisers, as well as the other finalists who he said provided him stiff competition. He admitted that the practical session was the most challenging: “I was shivering during the practical. While mixing the chemicals, I did something that would have messed everything up but I quickly made up for it.” The first child in a family of seven, Emmanuel said he would like to study chemical engineering and would strive to win more competitions. He urged PZ Cussons Foundation to incorporate other science subjects into the competition and also organise it on a national scale