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Igbo gaa-adi Splash Millions of Naira to Prize Winners of Igbo Essay Writing Competition

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For the first time in recorded history, Igbo language received a boost in Anambra state. Many things have been said about the language and few years ago, UNESCO and the Oxford University gave a resounding prophecy that if extra effort is not made, the Igbo language will go into extinction in less than two decades.

Many individuals and groups have shown remarkable interest and have gone on a showdown to revive and turn this prophecy down. Igbo Ga Adi, an offshoot of IFMA INITIATIVE, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) poised to preserve the Igbo language and identity, founded by Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor, the NGO took the giant step especially in the last three years using our children as the tool for reviving and recovery of the Igbo language and identity.

It should be noted that Okafor hosted Igbo Children in October 31st 2013 in Abuja and also hosted the International Day of the African Child in June 2013. In all these, he brought new concepts to make his efforts work. He introduced essay writing competition in indigenous language for students in secondary schools in Anambra state. The number of entries received ran in thousands as various schools from all zones, nooks and crannies of the state encouraged their students to be part of it. It also carried a surprising and mouthwatering package for Igbo teachers and their respective schools which baffled many. The essence was to help reward indigenous language teachers on earth and no longer in heaven. The first topic of the essay was on the importance of language to children and importance of language and culture to the development of Igbo land. Shortlists of 20 best written works were selected out of the thousand entries. Exactly on April 5 2014, which was not only the award ceremony day, but also a day for a sit-in-writing, where all the shortlisted students put up a fight for the mouthwatering prizes on the topics: Effect of road accident to children and reducing the menace of motor accident, the duty that calls, for junior and senior categories respectively. The sponsor of the program, Chief Osita Chidoka OFR (Ike Obosi), Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of Federal Road Safety Commission who doubled as the founder of Nkemefuna foundation was represented by Mr. Kenneth Nwaegbe, HPIO of the FRSC.

The sit-in-writing narrowed down the names of the best 20 students to 10, 5 from each category. These students mounted the podium one after another to read their written essay in the presence of dignitaries among whom were Professor Pita Ejiofor, former vice chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Hon. Commissioner for Local government and chieftaincy matters, Hon. Commissioner for education represented, Hon. Commissioner for Women Affairs & Social development represented, HRH Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife of Isseke Kingdom, Dr. Chief Mike Ejiofor, Federal Permanent Secretary (rtd), Chairman Post Primary Schools Service Commission among others. They were all thrilled to see these students read in Igbo language and were made to agree that Igbo language would never die. It was time for the judges made up of Professors and experienced lecturers in Igbo language drawn from the University.

The 1st prize winner for the senior category, a student of St Charles College, Onitsha, Master Odiakosa Alfred won a cash prize of N100.000, Hundred thousand Naira, a laptop computer. A big deep freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new set of computer with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks for the library.

The 2nd prize winner, Master Okonkwo Benjamin also from St Charles College, Onitsha, won a cash prize of N65.000 Sixty five thousand Naira, a mini laptop computer. A medium size deep freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new set of computer with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks for the library.

The 3rd Prize winner Master Tojah Chidinka of Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha carted away with cash prize of N50.000 fifty thousand Naira, set of books for the school a printer and cash of ten thousand Naira to the teacher.

In the junior category Miss Onyejesi Favor , of Anglican Girls Grammar School, Onitsha took home a prize of N60.000 sixty thousand Naira, a mini laptop. A deep freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new set of computer with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks for the library.

While Ikeh Calista , of Queen of Rosary College, Onitsha emerged the second position and took home N50.000 Fifty thousand Naira. A medium size deep freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new set of computer with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks for the library.

Miss Uzochukwu Adaeze of Bishop Okoye Memeorial Grammar School, Nnewi clinched the 3rd prize carting away N30.000 Thirty thousand Naira, Ten thousand Naira to the Igbo teacher, set Igbo books and notebooks for the library. The 4th and 5th winners in each category received eight and ten thousand Naira each while the other finalists of 10 received a cash prize of Five thousand Naira each. Schools present were satisfied with the development and expressed interest in the promotion of Igbo language to their individual students. The commissioner for education represented by Mrs Ewuzie in her remark praised the commitment of well-meaning efforts of many Igbo's in reviving Igbo language and culture and submitted a promise of partnership which she believed the present government will be pleased to be part of, she applauded the initiative and commended the initiator of the annual competition Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor and the sponsor of the program Mr. Osita Chidoka saying that such noble initiative should be encouraged and sustained. A day like 5th of April 2014 will remain alive in the mind of many Igbo children in Anambra states for being rewarded for their efforts and interests in Igbo language and for the teachers, a new door of opportunity is opened for them to instill hard work on their students and to receive their reward while alive on earth. Mrs Azuka Enemo, Hon. Comm. For local government and Chieftaincy matters who spoke directly to Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor the host of the program applauded the concept of the program, the Honourable Commissioner said that rewarding the students and their teachers and schools will motivate and encourage teachers to put in more efforts in teaching of ingenious language. The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Chief Mike Ejiofor in his speech commended the initiator of the program while stressing on the need for the program to be sustained to help improve the academic performance of Igbo children in indigenous language, Ejiofor also said that the program is one that the state government should encourage and support, he went on to commend the sponsor of the program 'such selfless and noble gesture is one to be emulated' he said.

Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor the initiator and host of the program who doubles as the Founder of the IFMA INITIATIVE (Igbo ga-adi) in his speech charged parents and teachers to wake up to the challenge facing ndigbo, he urged them to consider issues relating to the sustainability of the Igbo language and identity as a major priority, Okafor expressed sadness that over 65 percent of Igbos cannot read or write Igbo language, while over 90 percent cannot hold a 5 minutes conversation in Igbo language without adding English language, he said this is because the learning of indigenous language was never encouraged in schools in the past, he said that for the Igbo language and identity to be revived and sustained, ndigbo must be proud of being Igbo, proud of the Igbo language and culture. Okafor said he designed the annual competition in a way that it would make a huge and positive impact in the lives of the people of the state. It is sad and discouraging that most stakeholders in Igbo land hardly come forward to support, sponsor or encourage programs geared towards the good and future of Igbo race he said, while appreciating in a special way Chief Osita Chidoka OFR (Ike Obosi) for coming forward to express his love for the good and future of Igbo race by proudly sponsoring the program.

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Articles by Emmanuel Ugokwe