Nation-building: Yiaga Africa organises debate competition for universities

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Nation-building: Yiaga Africa organises debate competition for universities
By Oluwatope Lawanson




Yiaga Africa, an NGO, says its national debate competition will provide a unique platform for students across universities in Nigeria to articulate their vision for the nation of their dreams.

Mrs Antonia Onda, Senior Programme Officer, Yiaga Africa, made this known at the South West Zonal Debate titled: ‘My Nigeria – Our Nigeria’ held in Lagos on Monday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Yiaga Africa invited students from accredited Nigerian universities to register to participate in the debate competition in February.

According to Onda, ‘My Nigeria – Our Nigeria’ debate competition is a Yiaga Africa initiative with support from the Open Society Foundations and in partnership with the National Universities Commission and All Nigerian University Debating Championship.

Onda explained it was organised to encourage participants to engage in insightful debates on crucial topics relating to citizenship, national values, governance, and politics to harness citizens’ inputs into governance and nation-building.

According to her, it is also a tool for promoting critical thinking, advocacy and vision amongst students of tertiary institutions.

She said: “We saw the involvement of young people at the last general elections and we can see their enthusiasm so we discovered that they need an opportunity and a platform.

“Also, they need to be encouraged every time. Therefore, the debate is an opportunity for universities across the country to come together, express themselves and have honest conversations on national issues.”

Onda further explained that the initiative was a platform for students to contribute actively to the discourse on the future of Nigeria.

She noted that the debate symbolised the essence of critical engagement and visionary leadership.

“This is to see how youths will be included and carried along and also encourage young people to participate in governance processes.

“Also, this debate gives them the platform to have a discuss on the issue that bothers them with regards to governance while prizes will be awarded to winners.

“The competition will embrace the opportunity to be a part of this transformative journey and join in shaping the future narrative of Nigeria,” Onda said.

The Yiaga Africa official disclosed that the debates were held at each of the six geo-political zones, and that winners at the zonal round would be invited to the grand finale in Abuja in May.

According to her, the final round of the debate will be broadcast live on TV and social media platforms.

One of the participants, Ifeoluwa Odeyemi, a 400 level student of Political Science at Obafemi Awolowo University said Nigeria was at a stage to make certain decisions that had to do with restructuring and procedures, to produce desirable results.

“Nigeria is at a stage where we have to make certain decisions that has to do with restructuring and procedures to produce the results we desire.

“This kind of platform provides more resources for the government to have something to rely on whereby citizens can actually speak where it matters.

“For as long as we continue to discuss issues that border on Nigeria on a more concentrated platform like this, l believe there are positive steps to the future that we want for our country.”

Another participant, Miss Halimat Ariyo, a final year Cell Biology and Genetics student at the University of Lagos, said the competition was an avenue for youths to have an engaging conversation that they would not necessarily have outside their daily life.

Ariyo said the competition was insightful because in most instances, youths shied away from engagements relating to nation building.

According to her, this debate is an avenue to bring youths together to make them have hard conversations that go beyond sentiments, favouritism, ethnicity or tribe.

“It allows us to make hard conversations in a friendly environment because in a debate environment, you cannot necessarily attack the speaker but you can proffer solutions to cases before you.”


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