By Tope Templer Olaiya
The Pan-African Universities Debating Championship (PAUDC) organizing committee has announced the University of Botswana as the host of the second Pan-African Universities Debating Championship in Gaborone, Botswana from the 12 to 18 December 2009. The championship will bring together universities from 15 African countries plus numerous debate trainers from the United States, South Korea and South Africa.
Tebogo Mogotsi, sponsorship director and also a veteran debater, revealed that so far 15 participating countries that have confirmed attendance are: Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia; Uganda and Kenya will participate including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa from Southern Africa.
Mogotsi expects 25 universities, among them the Universities of Nairobi in Kenya, Botswana, Jonnanesburg, Limkokwing, Free State (last year’s winners), Rhodes, Fort Hare, Namibia, Lagos and Calabar in Nigeria.
The championship is also expected to have participants totaling about 500 debaters, adjudicators and 12 trainers, making it the biggest debating tournament ever on the African continent. Also 40 Botswana school students are also expected to participate as debaters, volunteers, timekeepers and runners. The week-long tournament will be hosted at the University of Botswana main campus with among other socials, the grand opening ceremony, Cultural Expo night and the Grand Final at Phakalane Golf Estates.
“This intensive competition requires each university team to take part in eight preliminary debates over six days. The highest-rated teams go forward to knockout rounds, with the champions ultimately named during a Grand Final at the Golf Estates,” Mogotsi added. He further noted “in addition to the actual debate tournament, there will be formal training workshops and interactive forums with leaders in business, ministers, civil society and government. The debating championship will also provide a forum in which African university students can be exposed to new ideas, discuss a range of topical issues and be challenged to think critically.”
Training youth in leadership skill
With six years left to reach the goal mark of the Millennium Development Goals, the Federal Ministry of Youth Development recently organized leadership training for youth leaders and student activists across tertiary institutions across the southwest zone. The delegates numbering over 180 participated from 36 tertiary institutions.
The training was targeted at redirecting the thoughts of the delegates towards sacrificial and selfless service, create awareness of government reform programmes and policies, inculcate self confidence and the spirit of entrepreneurship and expose them to role models that can ginger them towards cultivating desirable leadership tendencies.
It commenced with an opening ceremony, which had in attendance the representative of the Vice Chancellor of Covenant University, representative of the Special Adviser to the President on MDGs, representative of the Lagos State Commissioner on Youth and Sports, and the convener of the training, Mallam Yusuf Adamu.
The seemingly insolvent ASUU strike was also addressed and participants pleaded profusely on the need for students to return to school, as education is the only assurance of a brighter future.
The participants were urged to be conscious of the fact that they are leaders of today not tomorrow and to strictly adhere to the principles of leadership, anti-corruption and patriotism that LEAP Africa represents.
The students were taken through military exercises to keep fit, learn tolerance and encourage hardwork. Each participant was given a certificate of attendance and was duly reimbursed for the cost of transportation.
The experience could be summed up as being informative, entertaining and educative, and it ended in a grand style with a colourful closing ceremony when a crop of students who are due and ready to take Nigeria unawares were unveiled.
However, the question on the lips of inquisitive participants was if the budget for the programme was judiciously used. Other question that arose was why despite the fact that the beautiful ones were already born, the ugly ones have refused to die and why the budget for education is the substitute for that of road construction.
2011: To Serve Nigeria is not by Force
Back in those days, when I was in the secondary school, we used to engage ourselves in frivolous activities and youthful exuberance, which we took pleasure in. One of such is the remixing of the national pledge …I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest, to serve Nigeria “is not by force”…instead of ‘with all my strength’.
Though it sounds unpatriotic, probably because we were discouraged from having faith in our country from disloyal minds; now, looking at the phase, it makes a whole lot of sense with regards to the coming 2011 elections.
Looking at our electoral precedents, it is pertinent to drum this into the ears of our political office seekers, so as to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Our politicians should take a cue from their colleagues in other countries like the United States and neighbouring Ghana, by giving room for free and fair elections at all level. They should begin to see the electoral process as a necessary machinery of competition, and not political rivalry; or the unpopular, horrendous, do or die style, which suppresses the wish of the people as expressed by their votes for the candidates of their choice.
It is also noteworthy to emphasize the importance of the acceptance of defeat by our politicians so as to ensure a healthy democratic system. The electorates also have an important role to play; to follow strictly the election protocols; adhere to the democratic rule of one man, one vote, and defend their votes, doing so with an objective mind, showing by example how to serve Nigeria with all our strength.