My Odyssey To The Top, Sophia ‘Malala’ Oyibo Tells Her Story

Rave of the moment, 18-year-old Miss Sophia Awajibenem Oyibo has told her story of how she came to the spotlight after emerging winner of the essay competition in the first phase of the ongoing advocacy campaign, an initiative of the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, tagged #OurStateOurResponsibility.

Sophia, now gaining prominence as the ‘Malala of Rivers’ in reference to the Pakistani whiz kid Nobel Prize winner, Malala Tousafzai, spokeat a one day sensitization programme with the theme: ‘Wind of Change’, affirming that her success was the handiwork of God, made possible through Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, the Honorable Commissioner of Information and Communications in the state.

She said she won the essay competition because she ‘kept the balance’, adding that when she was announced winner, she made sure to move with the Information and Communications Commissioner, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who had the vision.

“Always, we may be talking about gratitude and you may be wondering why we are honoring the Hon. Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim for speaking of me the way he does.  And I smile, and cry the tears of joy because I am declared the winner and Ambassador of the ministry.

“The truth is, it has never been easy as a human being, keeping up to standards and portraying good morals and being a model to others.  To be sincere, it is not easy.  It is something that involves discipline.  To be a model to others, you have to burn that late night candles.  You have to exempt yourselves from some pleasures of the world to get to the top”, she said.

At the event which held at the Ministry of Women Affair, Easter Bye-Pass, Port Harcourt on Thursday, with attendance by students of over twenty-five secondary schools in the state, the Andoni-born sensation, while reeling out tips for success in life, noted that there is no easy way to make it to the top except through resilience, discipline, consistency, fear of God, and what she says is ‘being smart’ about intentions.

“Many of you work hard and many of you make money for yourselves.  It is understandable, but until you add value to someone else’s life, its then you know you are making good money.  If you don’t do so, you are just making money for yourself, and what contribution are you making to promote the society?”, she asked.

“This is the wind of change and you must change the state. You have to create value and positivity in your state.  But before you come into the society, you must make your home a better place.  And when you realize that you’ve changed someone else life because of the person you are, that is the day you start living.

“When you encourage others to do that which is right, and make sure that the world is growing, that is when you are living”, she said, stressing that God had not left anyone empty but had graciously equipped youths with what it takes to succeed and be celebrated in life. 

Miss Oyibo appealed to youths and people of the state to join in the advocacy for a better Rivers State, adding that the prosperity of the State is the prosperity of the people living in it.

“Think what you can do for Rivers State, be productive, contribute, be innovative, the Government cannot do it only on their own,” she said.

She said maximizing one’s talent involved productivity, innovation and personal love and discipline. “These elements are the ingredients to success,” she said.

Earlier, the Special Guest of Honour and Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo had urged the youths to take advantage of the huge investments made by the Governor Nyesom Wike led administration in education to improve themselves academically.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Uchechukwu Oriri, the Deputy Governor reiterated that the Wike’s administration has reintroduced boarding system in select secondary schools across the three senatorial districts of the State while new courses such as medicine and others have been instituted in Rivers State University.

“Campuses of the Rivers State University are in Emohua, Etche and Ahoada. I urge our youths to take advantage of these educational facilities and improve themselves academically,” she said.

The Deputy Governor described the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign initiative as a positive contribution to the development of Rivers youths, noting that the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign has made tremendous impact in changing the negative perception of outsiders about Rivers State.

Dr. Banigo therefore called on other ministries, ministerial departments and the public sector to emulate the Ministry of Information and Communications and chat a future for youths of the State.

She expressed delight that the event was initiated by a girl-child who distinguished herself among her peers to emerge winner of the essay competition.

She said the event was an encouragement to the girl-child and to her pet project “Protect the Girl-Child Initiative” which has mentored some girls in secondary schools to gain admission into tertiary institutions out of which 51 students in tertiary institutions were offered scholarships across gender.

In his welcome speech, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim emphasized  that Governor Wike has made Rivers State a model for development in Nigeria through his visionary leadership.

He therefore urged people living and doing business in Rivers State to continue to promote the advocacy campaign to change every negative narrative about the State.

“Let us join hands with Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to build a better Rivers State where young people can be assured that in terms of education, healthcare delivery, infrastructure and so on, their needs will served. These needed infrastructures will not be lacking and such a man deserves our support.

“When I say that Governor Wike is the number one governor, I say it with a deep sense of responsibility because we travel around the country and one can state without fear of contradiction that Governor Wike surpasses all of his contemporaries today,” he said.

He said Governor Wike’s dream is to restructure Rivers State to a phase where youths would grow with the assurance that their future is secured.

“I urge everyone living and doing business in the State to cooperate with the Governor to build a better Rivers State, making her the investors destination of choice.

“Every negative news that goes out of Rivers State affects our socioeconomic development and we believe that the time has come for us to come together to begin to support our visionary Governor who has changed the infrastructural landscape of the State,” he said.

Nsirim noted that the early stages of the advocacy campaign #OurStateOur Responsibility which began with advocacy visits to various stakeholders, religious organizations, amongst others, was geared towards changing the negative narrative about Rivers State.

He said the advocacy campaign has registered huge success so far with the second phase which produced the winner of #OurStateOur Responsibility essay competition, Miss. Sophia Oyibo who is currently the Ambassador of the Ministry.

He urged the youths to shun negative tendencies and cultivate the virtues of honesty, hard work and integrity as the hallmark of greatness in society. “Part of what we want to achieve is to draw attention to those values that make a nation. Values of honesty, hard work and integrity.

“We have come to a point in our national life that we have to address those values because they are the values that will create a new Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, the Head of Service of Rivers State, Mr. Rufus Godwins commended the Ministry of Information and Communications for the initiative of carrying out the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign programme which he said had made positive impact in changing the negative narrative about Rivers State.

He urged the people of Rivers State to always have positive thoughts on how to better the lot of the State by propagating the benefits of the developmental strides of the State Government.


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