By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis
Against all odds, representatives of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, have won the grand prize at the 2015 edition of the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Debate Competition.
The contest which took place at the Banquet Hall of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) on 8 July, 2015 was part of activities lined up by the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS) to celebrate the Annual Pharmacy Health Week.
Debating on two topical issues – “Should Nigeria Practice Free Education?” and “Should Euthanasia be Legalised in Nigeria?” academic gladiators from both OAU and UNIBEN metaphorically went for each other’s jugular in a bid to garner maximum points through their arguments.
While representatives of UNIBEN claimed that education could not be completely free, citing the huge budget earmarked annually for the educational sector, the OAU team maintained that it was indeed possible, considering the near-100 per cent literacy model of countries like Korea and Sweden.
Team UNIBEN however countered the argument with the claim that the countries cited succeeded simply because of their moderate population figures.
“Now imagine Nigeria with a huge population of approximately 177 million to contemplate the idea of offering free education. Where is that done?” the team asked rhetorically.
On legalisation of euthanasia in Nigeria, Team OAU canvassed that Nigeria was not ripe for such “obnoxious act of ‘mercy killing.’” One of the contestants cited the remarkable case of Karen Quinlan of the United States who survived after she had been removed from mechanical ventilation and even went on to live nine more years in vegetative state before her eventual death in 1985.
Team UNIBEN however countered the notion, pointing out that their opponent (OAU) was not putting peculiar cases, such as those suffering from cerebral cancer, into consideration.
“When dying patients cry out for euthanasia, they know the reason for it. After all, don’t we humans clamour for analgesics and opium in the face of excruciating pains? How then can you justify the need for patients with terminal diseases to go through a lifetime pain? It is totally uncalled for!” the team argued.
At the end of the debate. Team OAU was announced winner.
Announcing the result, the panel of judges, comprising Dr Patrick Osarenmwinda Igbinaduwa, head of department, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, UNIBEN; Barrister Theodora Ewah, administrative assistant, UNIBEN; and Barrister Omoduwa Osaduwa, administrative assistant, UNIBEN, said that they considered a number of factors, which included number of points garnered, manner of presentation, dress code and composure, to arrive at their final decision.
In the same debate category, Ojelabi Jesujoba, who led the OAU delegation, was declared the best speaker.
In the essay writing category, Ezekiel Efeobhokhan, a 400 level pharmacy student in UNIBEN emerged winner, with his article, “Performance Enhancing Drugs: Is it Justifiable In Sports & Academics?”
Praising the contestants and the organisers for their outstanding contributions, Pharm (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, managing director of Pharmanews Limited, said he was particularly impressed with the institution that won the debate contest, given the fact that OAU was his alma mater.
Remarking on the essence of the annual event, which is hosted in his honour, the Pharmanews boss said it was necessary to understand that great men and women do not become successful or prominent overnight, noting that so many hurdles and challenges must have been surmounted along the way.
“There will always be obstruction and challenges. It will get to a point where you might start wondering why those things are happening to you. But know that God is with you even with those challenges.
“I am where I am today because God has destined it. Pharmanews might look like an accident, but I assure you that it is not,” he remarked.
Reminiscing on how the journal was birthed in May 1979, Atueyi narrated the story of how he was compelled to abandon employment to pursue his dream.
“As you go on with your programme, some of you are finishing; let nobody tell you that you cannot be the person you hope to be. Let God decide that for you,” he counselled.