The setting inside the Grand Ball Room of the prestigious Oriental Hotel, Lekki-Lagos was as grand as the event billed for the evening. Guests and friends of contestants arrived early for the red carpet reception and photo session, while expectation about the main event of the night was at its peak.
Out of the numerous entries, nineteen state champions emerged representing Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Katsina. From these, ten finalists emerged. The finalists who slugged it out at the final lap, were winners from Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Imo, Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States.
The great moment of anxiety came when the ten were reduced to three – one man, two women – from where the second runner-up, first runner-up and the winner emerged. After some moments of suspense by the duo of Frank Edoho and Gbenga Adeyinka who handled the programme, Daniel Sunday Udiong from Akwa Ibom was announced as the second runner-up. Then the real moment. Two women; one from Borno, the other from Anambra.
Finally, the quest for the best teacher in public secondary schools in Nigeria came to a glorious end when a 37 year-old teacher from Anambra State, Rose Nkemdilim Obi emerged winner of the maiden edition of the Maltina Teacher-of-the-Year.
Obi, who is equally a daughter of a teacher, teaches Mathematics and Chemistry at the Federal Government Girls College, (FGGC) Onitsha. The year 2000 graduate of Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State beat nine other finalists to the coveted prize.
The first runner-up was Binta Mohammed Lawan of Federal Government College Maiduguri, Borno State, in the war ravaged North East.
The award instituted by Maltina, the non-alcoholic malt brand from the stable of Nigerian Breweries Plc, is courtesy of Nigerian Breweries-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund. It is aimed at restoring the pride of teachers and the dignity of the teaching profession.
For their effort, the national winner got one million naira and another five hundred thousand naira for being among the ten finalists. Aside this, another one million naira will be paid into her account annually for five years. Obi will also be sent abroad for professional training on the bill of Nigerian Breweries/Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund, just as the Federal Government Girls College Onitsha, Obi’s school, has also become an instant beneficiary of a block of six classrooms.
The first runner-up got one million naira plus another five hundred thousand naira finalists’ prize money, while the second runner-up took seven hundred and fifty naira and another five hundred thousand naira for getting to the finals.
Speaking after her declaration as winner, Obi dedicated her victory to God and her fellow teachers. She also thanked Nigerian Breweries, for the great honour and motivation done to teachers and the teaching profession. “Teaching is a noble profession, it is a calling and it is a commitment to building the nation. I thank God today for my life, and I thank Nigerian Breweries for restoring the dignity and pride of teachers“, she said.
In his welcome remark, the Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries, Nicolaas Vervelde explained that the company operates with a philosophy of “winning with Nigeria” and has championed causes that add value to the society since its inception in 1946. “In 1994, we raised the profile of our support of the education sector when we established the Nigerian Breweries-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund to enable us to contribute to the development of the sector. Everywhere in the world, teachers play a vital role in sustainable national development by training, coaching and modelling which is critical to determining the quality of education“, he said.
He noted that everywhere in the world, teachers play a vital role in sustainable national development by training, coaching and modeling which is critical to determining the quality of education. “However, everyone acknowledges that these teachers seldom get the recognition they deserve. It was to address this missing link that we launched the Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative in May“, he submitted.
He added that the valid entries received were subjected to an intensive selection and judging process by an independent, external panel of judges to ensure transparency, credibility and objectivity.
The Panel of Judges which comprised eminent Nigerian academics and professionals, was chaired by Prof. Pat Utomi, Founder/CEO, Centre for Values in Leadership. Others included: Mopelola O. Omoegun, Professor of Education, University of Lagos; Prof. Thomas I. Ofuya, Vice Chancellor, Wellspring University and Member, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities; as well as Olusegun Adeniyi, Chairman, Editorial Board, ThisDay Newspapers. Other members are: Dr. Abdulrahman Binta Fatima, National President, All-Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools; and Prof. Tijjani Abubakar, Dean, Faculty of Education, Ahmadu Bello University.
The race for Maltina Teacher-of-The-Year started on Wednesday, 20th May, 2015 generated unprecedented interest from teachers across the country. The initiative with prizes worth over N50 million annually, is to reward commitment and diligence to duty by exceptional teachers across the country.
Kufre Ekanem, Nigerian Breweries Corporate Affairs Adviser explained that that through this initiative, the company can inspire this nation to accord our teachers their deserved credit and bring back respect to the teaching profession in Nigeria.