In a bid to create awareness among the Nigerian youths and curb the menace of corruption in Nigeria, The Expression Undergraduate Debates Challenge 2017 was organized by Youngstars Development Initiative (YDI), a Non-Governmental Organization with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to commemorate this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day.
From 3 regional auditions in Abuja, Enugu and Lagos, 32 undergraduate teams representing 20 tertiary institutions in Nigeria participated in this year’s edition of The Expression Undergraduate Debates Challenge 2017, which held at the NAF Conference Center, Abuja.
Speaking at the grand finale of The Expression Undergraduate Debates 2017, the Nigeria Head of Office UK Department for International Development, Debbie Palmer, expressed her pleasure at the timeliness of the event, stressing that the initiative in mobilizing youth voice, both young men and women and persons with disability was a healthy civic and democratic culture for strengthening the society.
According to her, “Youth matters to us because we know that there are 1.8 billion young people in the world and 9 out of 10 of those live in developing countries like Nigeria”. She also, reiterated the UK government commitment in supporting Nigeria to tackle corruption through its anti-corruption programmes.
In his address, the Chief Judge of The Expression Debates 2017, Prof. Pat Utomi a renowned political economist and Founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL), commended Youngstars Foundation for such a laudable initiative, stating that one of the instrumentality for interrogating, balancing and raising public opinion, ideas and policy thrust is public debates.
He reminiscenced the days in Nigeria when undergraduate’s debates framed public discourse and contributed to national policy thrust and hope for the return of such a time with projects like The Expression Undergraduate Debates.
Addressing participants and guests at the event, the Chairman Board of Trustee Youngstars Development Initiative, Mr. Bulus Dabit, stated that the undergraduate debate was organized to provide a platform for youths to create their own future. He said, “Youngstars Development Initiative has for the purpose of this debate mobilized Nigerian youth leaders by providing a space for them to create their own future. Rather than taking the bull by the horn, some other youth spend their time blaming their parents, leaders or government for not creating such a space. Youth have what it takes to create the future they want”, he stated.
The Chairman also called for the re-examination of Nigerian media content policy. According to him, “A lot of the information being recorded today will be considered hard information. Most broadcast media organization attract large sponsorship because of the emphasis on entertainment. The youth have been the major producers of the entertainment content. Quite a number of them are making money from such production and this has caused low participation of youth in national policy formulation and implementation. We dare to ask how many media station are willing to buy today’s production and air it so we can stimulate the thinking capacity of our youth and mobilized them to effectively and efficiently participate in national discourse”, he asked.
On his part, the Executive Director, YDI, Mr. Kingsley Bangwell stressed the need for the Nigerian youths to lend their voices on contemporary issues of national interest such as corruption, adding further that The Expression Undergraduate Debates Challenge has provided the much needed platform for youths to amplify their voices.
Mr. Bangwell revealed that as part of the post-debate activities, the winners shall conduct a step down debates in secondary schools in their communities as well as promote the “I CHOOSE INTEGRITY” campaign.
A total of 32 teams comprising 64 persons participated in 28 engaging debates during the grand finale, it was a battle of words, ideas, oratory and grit. At the end of the grand finale, Team Quora of University of Ibadan emerged the 1st place winner of N500,000 cash prize, followed by Team Dunamis of University of Ibadan, winning N300,000 and third place was won by Team Roar of University of Jos, winning a cash price of N200,000.
Judges at the grand finale included First Baba Isa, Sola Fagurosi, Margaret Fagboyo, Blossom Olurumka, Rafatu Salami, Mary Manzo and Ify Malo.
The epoch making event had in attendance Secondary School students within the Federal Capital Territory as well as dignitaries and representative of government agencies. Many of the audience who spoke commended the project and secondary school students also made contributions.
The Expression Undergraduates Debates 2017 was made possible through the gracious support of partners including; DFID, BudgIT, This Generation 2017, Activating Success, Ben TV London, Wazobia Max TV and X2D TV.