AbdulRazaq hails Commonwealth Values as Royal Contest Begins in Kwara

· Emmanuel Kehinde, ilorin

The commonwealth’s values of human rights, inclusion, equity, empowerment and robust pluralism are timeless and invaluable for sustainable peace and development, Kwara Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said on Thursday, adding that those ideals continue to inspire billions of people worldwide.

Speaking at the official launching of the 2021 edition of the Queen’s Commonwealth Competition organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society of Nigeria (RCS) held in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, the Governor said those values unite various peoples across continents and have continued to foster peace and economic cooperation.

“The Commonwealth symbolises peace, togetherness, and equity,” AbdulRazaq said, just as he commended the RCS for taking the launching of the competition to Kwara State for the first time — a feat he credited to the magnanimity of the body and the goodwill of the First Lady of the state Ambassador Olufolake AbdulRazaq.

“On behalf of the people and government of Kwara State, I commend the Royal Commonwealth Society for giving our state the historic privilege of hosting this important event.

“This competition offers a rare opportunity for young people from Kwara State to compete and showcase their talents to the entire world. It is a lifetime opportunity for participants to etch their names in gold, and I am convinced that the Kwara child will not lose such an opportunity. This essay competition, and the opportunities that come with it, represent some of the shared values of the Commonwealth.”

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Submission of entries for the competition, which has junior and senior categories and dated back to 1883, began across the Commonwealth countries after the launching in Ilorin on Thursday June 10 and would terminate on June 30. Entries may be submitted through the website of the RCS, which also contains the guidelines for the contest.

Attended by Deputy British High Commissioner Gill Atkinson, the First Lady of Kwara, representatives of the Ministers of Education and Foreign Affairs, cabinet members, and RCS Country Director Blackson Bayewunmi, the launching was preceded by a quiz contest involving students from basic, secondary schools and the University of Ilorin.

Ambassador AbdulRazaq, who bagged a special award of honour by the RCS, said the competition would spur the creative ingenuity of young people by giving expression to their innate thoughts.

“This event no doubt presents opportunity for our young people to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on key global issues and have their hard work and achievement celebrated internationally,” she said.

“Like the Royal Commonwealth Society however, my office and Ajike People Support Center have chosen to champion the importance of literacy, equality and inclusion, the environment and connected communities and support the concerns of young people within the Commonwealth’s 54 member nations and indeed across the world.

“As you may be aware the government of Kwara State has committed sincere effort and huge resources into repositioning education and ensuring that each child gets a fair competitive chance to excel in their education.”

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Mrs AbdulRazaq noted that the increasing youth awareness across the Commonwealth and the need for young people to consider their position and power in bringing about change, and how their influence can be used as a tool for positive action is pertinent now more than ever before.

She commended the British High Commission, the Federal Ministry of Education and the Royal Commonwealth Society for choosing Kwara out of the thirty six States of the Federation to launch the 2021 edition of the competition.

Atkinson encouraged students from Kwara State to take part in the competition and make their respective communities part of the competition.

“I have seen with these youths the Nigeria’s future. Nigeria’s future is talented, knowledgeable, and confident. I believe with you Nigeria will prosper,” she said.

She said the mission and core value of the 54 independent nations was to ensure democracy, human rights and sustainable development, and work together to ensure the future development of the countries.

“Events like today are so important, providing an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the bright talent of the youth of Nigeria. Providing them a platform, as young Commonwealth Citizens to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on key global issues and have their hard work and achievement celebrated internationally,”according to Atkinson.

“With thousands of young people taking part in this competition each year, it is undoubtedly an important way to elevate youth voices and develop their key skills. They are the future, and I strongly believe that the strength and dynamism of Nigeria’s youth is essential to drive Nigeria forward. I am particularly pleased to see that the theme for this year’s competition is around ‘Community’. The sense of community, and unity is something that is needed more than ever, both around the globe, as the world deals with an ongoing global pandemic, and in Nigeria, where many are living with increasing insecurity.”

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The Country Director Royal Commonwealth Society, Nigeria Branch, Mr Blackson Bayewumi, explained that 2020 edition of the competition received more than 11,000 entries from across the Commonwealth.

“The competition in the modern day gives creative young writers the opportunity to explore contemporary themes through the written word. The competition is in two categories: Junior category (14 years and below as at June 2021) and Senior category (14 years – 18 years as at June 2021) while the overall winners and the runner-up in both categories are expected to be invited to London in late 2021 for a week of educational and cultural events, culminating in award ceremony at Royal Palace, London,” he added.

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