A 16-year-old pupil who lost out in last year’s edition of the Spelling Bee competition, Idowu Sonoiki, has emerged the 2015 winner of the keenly contested award in Lagos.
At the end of the two-hour competition, Sonoiki attributed his success to perseverance and determination.
The pupil of Ikotun Senior High School, Ikotun, who will act as one-day governor of Lagos State, said this at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium on Wednesday. He beat Faiz Abdulliadi of Omole Senior Grammar School, Omole; and Fehinti Dahunsi of the Lagos State Model College, Kankon, to the second and third places respectively.
Among other prizes, Sonoiki received N250,000, while Abdulliadi and Dahunsi got N150,000 and N100,000 respectively.
Sonoiki said his inability to spell the word ‘myxomatosis’ sent him out of the competition in last year’s edition. But he said the determination to win and the support from his family and friends helped him to achieve his dream.
“I am so excited today. I was 89 per cent prepared. Last year, I was contestant 17 and I lost out when I could not spell ‘myxomatosis.’
“Right from that time, I was determined to return and win. My dad told me to work hard, because being a one-day governor is not a walk in the park.
“I used the encyclopaedia, the Spelling Bee Dictionary and another dictionary in my principal’s office. I was also always on the Internet, searching for words,” he said.
Sonoiki, who lost his mother in 1998 when he was only a few months old, alongside 56 other contestants had a hectic time spelling words such as ‘cami-knickers,’ ‘vicissitude,’ ‘phlegmatic’ and others.
The competition became more nerve-wracking in the final stages when the three finalists had to spell only words of Latin, Greek, Arabic and French origins. They included ‘mycorrhiza,’ ‘coccyx,’ ‘pettifogging,’ ‘jalousie’ and ‘colacobiosis,’ among others.
In her address, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, said the aim of the programme was to help pupils to improve their vocabulary and develop correct usage of the English language.
She added that pupils in the state have lived up to expectations since the inception of the programme 15 years ago.
“It is heart-warming to note that the goals of the competition have been achieved, as evidenced by the performances of our pupils in various external examinations.
“Again, I am gladdened by the fact that many of the past winners are now successful men and women in their chosen careers,” she said.
The Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, said the spelling competition, which was initiated by a former first lady of the state, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, would help pupils to build solid foundations in academics.
“As an educationist, learning how to spell words is important for pupils. Spelling words help lay a basic foundation that every pupil will need throughout their educational life.
“It is also important because it raises the profile of reading. It cements the connection that is shared between sounds and letters,” she said.
Source: The Punch