24-year-old student at the Nigerian Law School from Anambra State, Onyinye Omenugha, has won the prestigious Diana Award.
The award is annually conferred on outstanding young persons in the United Kingdom and around the globe.
Instituted in 1999 with erstwhile British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as the board chairman, the award was set up in honour of Princess Diana famous for her solidarity with the marginalised.
It recognises people between 9 and 25 years who have done remarkable things which affect humanity positively, in the tradition of Prince Diana. The Diana Award Charity currently has former British Prime Minister David Cameron and ex-Scottish First Minister Jack McConnel as patrons.
Onyinye received the award on Friday in recognition of the nongovernmental organisation (NGO), Lawsanaid, which she founded to assist law students with disabilities in obtaining quality and inclusive education.
Moved by the experience of a relative, Onyinye established Lawsanaid, whose activity is consistent with the work of other Diana Award recipients that “demonstrate their ability to inspire and mobilise new generations to serve their communities and create long-lasting change on the global scene”, according to Diana Award Charity chief executive Tessy Ojo.
“Onyinye’s work has inspired others, and she has become a role model for young people in the legal industry.
“She is also involved in mentoring, creativity promotion, and advocating youth-led initiatives.”
Professor Cornelius Ukwueze of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka taught Onyinye in her undergraduate programme, and exclaims: “Having taught her in the Law Faculty a few years ago, I am not surprised at this international recognition. She will go places.”
Onyinye, who hails from Nnobi in Idemili South Local Government Area, is the last child of Dr Mike Omenugha, a medical practitioner, and Dr Kate Azuka Omenugha, Nigeria’s second female Mass Communication Professor who served as the Anambra State Commissioner for Education for eight years from 2014.
Though yet to be called to the Nigerian Bar, Onyinye is a certified arbitrator with the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (UK) and a member of the Institute of Chartered Mediation and Conciliation.
She has also attended courses and conferences organised by the United Nations, the European Union and Harvard University.
“She is steeped in the family tradition of excellence”, says Willie Nwokoye, an investment banker and economist who was ex-Governor Willie Obiano’s principal secretary.
“Her mother brought many awards to Anambra State when she was the Commissioner for Education.”
The Diana Award to Onyinye is “a testament to her passion and commitment”, according to Dr Emeka Obegolu, an Abuja-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
To a newly elected member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, The Hon Henry Nigeria Mbachu, who represents the Awka South 1 Constituency, the honour is “the shape of things to come.
“I have known her for several years, and she will achieve more”.