Eighty-five students have been drawn across the country to compete in this year’s edition of a national essay competition to commemorate the 10th Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Programme, with the theme ‘Freedom, Justice and Equity: The Children’s Intervention in the Renewal of the Nation’ holding in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Ondo State governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, said social and physical development of young children have a direct impact on their overall academic growth and future prospect as adults.
Akeredolu said the younger generation should be given the best in order to secure the future, and build the nation.
He said: “You are very promising and deserve the best. I believe in your generation. We need a forum to talk to them in order to get the best from them. Your future is bright. I implore you to keep your head high because the sky is the limit.”
He commended the efforts of the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, as a writer, activist, and someone who has contributed positively to the development of Nigeria society through his writings and teachings.
“We appreciate the efforts of Soyinka in the past 10 years of this programme; he deserves the highest honour this country can give. It is important to learn what he stood and fought for so that we can continue his struggle when he is gone,” Akeredolu said.
Earlier, Professor Segun Ojewuyi of the Department of Theatre, Southern Illinois University, United States of America, who is the leader of the team and a co-executive producer had appreciated the state for its investments in the programme.
He stated that the programme started in 2009 as part of efforts to search for a project with lasting impact on the world, and also to ensure that Soyinka’s legacy lives after him.
Ojewuyi said “The ethics and principles he has lived by will continue to affect our lives. We will celebrate him through his civic duties. We also wanted to invest in the future of our country with this programme, which runs globally.”
He disclosed that 85 students across the country would participate in the programme this year.