Yiaga Africa Kicks Off MyNigeriaDebate Competition with Zonal Rounds

Three weeks ago, the My Nigeria – Our Nigeria debate competition officially kicked off with zonal rounds in six cities of the country and 24 university teams participating to select those who would participate in the national finals. 

The debate competition, which is organised by Yiaga Africa in partnership with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the All-Nigeria Universities Debating Championship (ANUDC) with the support of the Open Society Foundations brought together 48 students – two students per team – to debate on topics bordering on democracy, governance, citizenship and national values.

This competition is an opportunity for the students to not only showcase their oratorical skills and how to make persuasive arguments, but also to express their vision of the Nigeria of their dreams through their views on relevant issues in the country. 

These include topics such as if voting should be made compulsory for all eligible voters in Nigeria, if the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has outlived its purpose, if the narrative that democracy is the only legitimate form of government is valid, and if immunity for certain public officials in Nigeria should be eliminated, among others. 

The debate competition employed the British parliamentary debate format for the competition, which required each debate to have four teams: an opening and closing team for the government, and an opening and closing team for the opposition. Additionally, the debaters were given the topics only 15 minutes before the commencement of each round, requiring them to employ quick research to prepare their arguments.

On 24th April, the South-East and the North-West zonal debates were held concurrently in Owerri, Imo State and Kano, Kano State currently.

In Owerri, the participating teams were the Imo State University which was the host school; its neighbours, the Federal University of Technology, Owerri; the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Caritas University, Enugu. 

After three rounds of debates, a clear winner had emerged, with Imo State University leading the pack and securing its place in the national finals.

The debaters from all four participating schools in the South-East zonal round

In Kano, the participating schools were the Federal University, Dutse; the Kebbi State University of Science and Technology; the Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano and the Bayero University, Kano which hosted the zonal round. The debaters went toe-to-toe against each other on various topics around the theme of the Nigeria of their dreams, as they wowed the audience with their quick thinking and the depth with which they explored the various topics.

A debater making her points during the North-West zonal round

At the end of the day, the slot for the North-West zone in the national finals was picked by the Federal University, Dutse.

Yiaga Africa’s Programme Officer Sanusi Olaniyan with the team from the Federal University, Dutse

The #MyNigeriaDebate train moved to Port-Harcourt and Abuja on the 26th of April for the South-South and North-Central zonal rounds respectively. 

The South-South zonal debate was hosted by the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, and had the University of Calabar, the University of Benin and the Rivers State University of Science and Technology participating.

A debater from the University of Calabar during the debate

It was a fierce but friendly battle on the dais as these students laid out their points on the topics that they had been assigned to debate, and also pointed out flaws in the arguments of their opponents. At the end of the day, the University of Calabar emerged victorious and will be proceeding to the national finals.

An exchange of greetings between the debating teams at the South-South zonal round

In Abuja, the Veritas University, Bwari hosted the North-Central zonal round with the University of Ilorin, the University of Abuja and the Nasarawa State University as the participating schools. After four rounds of debate, the host school, Veritas University had scored the highest points and earned the right to be the zonal champion.

A debater at the North-Central zonal round stressing a point during the debate

The final zonal rounds of the debate took place in Lagos for the South-West and in Maiduguri for the North-East on the 29th and 30th of April respectively. As it was in other zones, four schools competed fiercely and debated passionately on the topics given to them. 

In the South-West, the University of Lagos hosted the debates with the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State; the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State and the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State as the other competitors. The Obafemi Awolowo University edged out the other schools to emerge as the winner and will be carrying the hopes of the zone at the finals.

Participating teams in the South-West zonal debate in a group picture

For the North-East, the University of Maiduguri played host to the Yobe State University, the Gombe State University and the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi as the other competitors. At the end of the fourth round of the debate, University of Maiduguri emerged the winner of the North-East zonal rounds bringing to an end the zonal rounds of the #MyNigeriaDebate.

The winners of the zonal rounds will proceed to the national finals where they will participate in a live televised debate. 

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