L-R: Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Dr Victor Odoeme; Rev. Fr. Dr Martin Onukwuba, Director of Development, Veritas University and Mr Edi Monkpe, Student Union President (SUG), Veritas University, during a news conference on the National Debating Championship, in Abuja on Tuesday
No fewer than 230 Nigerian Universities are expected to participate in the 2023 All Nigerian Universities Debating Championship, scheduled to hold between Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 at Veritas University, Abuja.
Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Dr Victor Odoeme, said this during a pre-event news conference by the All Nigerian Debating Council in preparation for the championship.
Odoeme said veteran Nollywood actor, Kenneth Okonkwo, would be the keynote speaker at the event.
“This is the 10th edition and Veritas is the defending champion,” he said.
Odoeme said that the championship was open to undergraduate students of all Nigerian Universities whether faith-based, public, private and state-owned, who have been invited to participate.
He said that participants would be debating on topics to be selected by an experienced panel and that there would be room for public speaking competition.
Odoeme urged private and public organisations especially the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) and Tertiary Education Fund (TetFund) to contribute and support the championship.
“The conversation with NUC is ongoing but we are hoping that they will come in the future and to advise every university in Nigeria to take up debating as a core curricular activity which is one of the major objectives of the All Nigerian University Debating Council.
“Since this is a bag round for advocacy, it is good for NUC to make sure every university adopts it because of the benefits that come with being exposed at that level.
“We have also reached out to TetFund, so we are still having the discussion hoping that they will buy into the idea and understand that this is an essential part of the university and funding it will be as good as funding tertiary education in its entirety.
“We are open to have corporate sponsorships and we are glad that some of them are buying into the project,” he said.
Odoeme also said that the championship is an intellectual equivalent of the All Nigerian Universities Games.
He said that the strength put in organising the sports angle should also be applied to the intellectual angle.
Mr Ocheido Adah, Convener of the tournament, said the essence of the debate was to allow people to have thinking capacity on the spot.
He said that the future of the country needed to be in the hands of youths who are thinking.
“This means that if they are faced with any difficulty wherever they find themselves, there is a training that constantly allows them to reach the deepest part of their thought process and bring out something which becomes very important for their growth.
“So, if you are going to interact with the debater in future, you will be able to understand that someone who has gone through that rigorous process is able to say 10 things and eight will be meaningful and for some, the 10 things will be meaningful.
“The debate is not the common podium debate most institutions do; it’s like the British parliamentary system where people are given topics on the spot to think.
“So, what it does is, rather than actually giving people what they will go back to their tutors to prepare speeches for them to come and deliver, you get them on stage and you give them 15 minutes to talk, where they don’t have access to the internet or any help,” he said.
Rev. Fr. Dr Martin Onukwuba, Director of Development, Veritas University said: “This is the first time the debate is coming to the north”.
Onukwuba also urged undergraduates from other universities in the country to attend the debate as adequate arrangements had been made to provide security for the participants and visitors.
Mr Edi Monkpe, the current Student Union President (SUG) of the institution said the university had produced champions in the debate more than any other university.
“Education does not end in the classroom; it is also a medium of teaching and learning during the course of the debate.
“One will have the opportunity to learn how to speak, learn how to stand out from the society and also one’s level of reasoning is going to be equipped.”
NAN reports that there are trophies and certificates for the best speaker, best debater and best institution.