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By NBF News
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When Nwankwo Adaora Linda, a medical student of Igbinedon University, sat on her table for five hours writing an essay on Nigeria, her fatherland, it never occurred to her that her entry would win the star prize of N1 million. Today, her gifted hands have paved way for her into the millionaires' club.

Nwankwo's success story started on Monday, September 20, when she borrowed her uncle's laptop to write an entry for an essay competition organized by the Intercontinental Bank Plc. The contest was organized as part of celebrations of the nation's 50th independence anniversary. Her friend had called two days earlier, pressuring her to make her modest contribution to the competition.

Adaora heeded her advice and sat to work on the topic: Nigeria at 50; The Past, The present. From 7.30am till 12.30pm. The 25-year old lady wriggled on her seat, weaving her random thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs. Success smiled on her as her entry won her the cash prize of N500,000 with an additional education grant of N500,000 and a laptop.

While sharing her experience, Nwankwo confessed that writing on the topic wasn't an easy ride as she thought, as it suddenly dawned on her that she had recondite knowledge of her fatherland. Undeterred by this shortfall, she racked her brain for hours until the spring of knowledge opened and filled her head with a surfeit of ideas. Surprisingly, her entry that won the coveted prize was written on the very last day initially given by the bank for the submission of entries.

Cruising on the wings of fame, Nwankwo spoke in a posh accent during the presentation of the 50 winners of the competition on Thursday, last week at the Eko Hotels, Lagos.

'I had to engage my mind. I saw Nigeria as a nation that has broken down and also a nation full of hope', she said.

She said her essay portrayed her dream for a better country as she highlighted her expectations for the nation in the next 50 years. According to her, since Nigeria is acclaimed as one of the most religious countries on earth, she ended the essay with a prayer that the words of the national anthem shall one day become the creed governing the minds of all Nigerians.

Speaking at the occasion, the Group Managing Director of the Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr. Mahmoud Lai Alabi, said 50 stars emerged from the competition that recorded over 6000 entries.

'Every star the bank will unveil this afternoon started this journey through an attempt at the essay theme: 'Nigeria @ 50; The Future, The Past. At the close of submission of entries last month, over 6000 entries had been received from all our outlets nationwide,' he recounted.

To ensure that the best writers emerged from the competition, Alabi said the bank engaged the services of Brandzone Consulting firm, as well as three professors for a second level assessment of the entries received.

'All the entries went through a tough first level marking exercise from where the best 50 emerged. To authenticate and give further credibility and transparency to this noble project, we engaged the services of three professors for a second level assessment to scrutinize the top 10 candidates from the 50 that emerged from the first level,' he explained.

While Nwankwo's script came tops, Ojukwu Elochukwu, a medical student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University won the second prize. He smiled home with an education grant of N300,000 , an additional cash sum of N300,000 and a laptop.

Also, Ukpong Victor Ubong of the Department of Accountancy, University of Lagos, won the third prize, with an educational grant of N200,000, cash sum of N200,000 and a laptop. Other 47 winners also got laptops to assist them in their academic work.

The Group Managing Director said the bank organised the competition as its contribution to the intellectual development of the nation.

'It is also a demonstration of our genuine desire to continuously support the development of human capital in our dear country, Nigeria, using the vehicle of quality education and intellectual development,' he said.