By Osa Mbonu-Amadi
To have the rare opportunity of attending NAFEST, Nigeria’s annual iconic arts and culture festival, is usually a thing of joy for everyone. It was therefore strange for Vanguard Newspaper to find Olabanjo Inioluwa Precious, an SSS 2 student at Model Secondary School, Alagbaka, Akure, Ondo State, weeping. Vanguard spoke to the weeping student, and this is her story:
“A letter was sent to the principal of my school to present candidates for essay competition at Eko NAFEST 2022. So, we were taken to the Ministry of Arts and Culture in Ondo State to write qualifying essays. After the evaluation, I was picked as the second person to represent Ondo State. The person who came first was Ogene Fejiro from another school.
“When I got home, I went online to search for everything about NAFEST. I got to know that it is the 35th edition, being hosted this year by Lagos State, and there are different activities scheduled for the festival like essay writing competition, Ayo traditional board game, children’s music competition, fashion, drama competitions, free skills acquisition, etc.”
Precious told Vanguard that she and Fejiro “were groomed for two Saturdays to come to Lagos to represent Ondo State at Eko NAFEST 2022 essay writing competition.” The title of the essay was “Arts, Culture & Tourism as Tools for Peaceful Co-existence in Nigeria”. About 30 (expectedly well-known brilliant) students wrote the essay in Ondo, and Precious and Fejiro were selected to come to Lagos.
Precious had hoped that she and Fejiro were going to write the competitive essay at Eko NAFEST. She was not told that only one essay writer was going to represent each state. So, when Fejiro and other contestants were ushered into the hall for the competition, leaving Precious behind at the Press Centre, Precious broke down in tears, because she had worked so hard for the competition and had determined to win the laurel for her state, Ondo. That was where the ever-vigilant eyes of Vanguard spotted Olabanjo Inioluwa Precious and decided to announce her to the world!
“If I had been told in advance that only one person was needed to represent a state, I wouldn’t have felt so disappointed. I had prepared so earnestly for this competition. I worked so hard for it. We are even writing tests presently in my school and I had been preparing for the tests and this essay writing competition at the same time. That’s why it was so painful to me. My school is a very standard school, and I don’t like missing a day in school. I was very happy when I got to know I was going to Lagos to represent Ondo. I don’t usually travel.
“My mates in school know that I was coming for this competition. So, what will I tell them when I get back and they start asking me questions (about my performance at the competition)? I came all the way from Akure, and as I am here, I am missing a lot (of classes) in the school. I had competed when I was in JSS 1. But this time around, I had seen it as an opportunity to win for my state.”
Speaking about her career aspiration, Precious told Vanguard that she is a science student, and her aspiration is to be a medical doctor. She said this career path was informed by her compassionate nature and desire to see people in good health.
Vanguard introduced Precious to the Director-General of National Council for Arts & Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe and Mrs. Oyinade Nathan-Mash, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Arts, Culture & Tourism.
Precious, no doubt, is a girl to watch. Many young persons in her position would have occupied themselves roaming the pavilions at NAFEST and enjoying themselves without giving a hoot about their mission in Lagos and at the event. But she wept.