In what has been described as a historic achievement, the University of Ibadan (UI), winner of the 2017 and 2018 annual Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Debate & Essay Competition, has again emerged champion of the 2021 edition, beating Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and University of Ilorin in the process.
The keenly contested sixth edition of the programme, which took place at New Faculty Building, Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, on 4 June 2021, witnessed a massive turnout of notable dignitaries, professors, pharmacy students, and a panel of judges, comprising legal icons, public speakers and linguists.
Seeking to garner maximum points through their arguments, the academic gurus from the participating institutions debated on two topics – “Should Nigeria divide to survive?” and “Inadequate Funding of Nigeria Institutions, Should Student Pay More?” They also had an oratory session on “Suicide, Is It an Option?”
At the end of the sessions, the judges, led by Dr Oluwatoyin Daniel, head of department, Pharmacology; Pharm. Ochuko Orere of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Administration; and Mrs A. Abuloye, from the Department of Business Law, declared UI as the winner of the debate competition, having garnered the highest points; while the host, OAU, and the debutant, UNILORIN, emerged first and second runners-up consecutively.
In other categories, Olalekan Ayomide, a representative of UNILORIN, won “best orator” award, while Joy Adegoke of OAU clinched “best debater” award.
Also, in the category of the essay competition, out of the 97 entries from 21 pharmacy schools across the country, Samuel Tolu Komolafe from OAU, emerged the winner with the highest score, while Ngozi Esther Ifoko, from University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), and Anthony C. Ofojebe from OAU, emerged first and second runners-up consecutively.
While explaining the criteria deployed by the judges to decide the winner of the debate competition, Dr Daniel, the lead judge, explained that the panelists considered several factors, including number of points garnered, manner of presentation, dress code, composure and stage management.
Praising the contestants, Prof. (Mrs) Margret Afolabi, dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, OAU, said they were setting a good precedent for other prospective pharmacy students to follow, adding that the contest would undoubtedly improve their communication skills.
While applauding the patron of the initiative, Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi, the dean who assumed office a week ago, described him as a great personality who had brought so much honour to the faculty and the institution at large.
She said: “It would be recalled that he graduated in 1967, a time when none of you had been born. Even me, I was still in primary school, so it is noteworthy to see that he has always given back to the faculty in several ways.
“What we are witnessing today is part of his gesture towards giving back to the profession, as one of the aims and purposes of this event is to improve students’ communication skills. Communication skill is an integral part of the profession. Moreover, the occasion also allows us to have a little freedom away from the traditional students-to-lecturers relationship and interaction. So it gives us the opportunity to be lively in a relaxed atmosphere.
“I also want you to have this question at the back of your mind. ‘When I graduate and leave the four walls of the institution, just like Sir Atueyi, what am I going to give back to the profession of pharmacy?’”
In his address, Pharm (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, managing director of Pharmanews Limited, who was represented by Mr Patrick Iwelunmor, editor, Pharmanews praised the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS) for honouring him with the annual contest.
According to him, even though he was not physically present, he was ably represented and happy that the annual event resumed this year after the interruption caused last year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking further, Atueyi noted that he was grateful to PANS for the great honour done to him by PANS in 2015 at UNIBEN, where the competition started.
His words: “Established in 2015 by PANS-UNIBEN under the presidency of Pharm. (Dr) Samuel Ugwumba, the competition was hosted and won by the UNIBEN in 2015 and 2016. Then it moved to OAU in 2017, and from there to the University of Ibadan in 2018 and 2019, and I am happy it returned to OAU this year, 2021.
“I wish to thank the president and his team for their effort to organise this competition this year, and I also appreciate the academic staff, especially the dean of the faculty, for their support. Some pharmaceutical companies supported the programme in various ways, so we really appreciate their unending love and support,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Olusola Michael, president, PANS-OAU, said it took several weeks of preparation and sleepless nights to ensure that the programme came to reality, adding that the programme is dear to their hearts because it involves one of the living legends in pharmacy who is also one of the patriarchs in the faculty.
According to him, “I can recall the first edition that I witnessed in 2017, as a 100 Level student then; it was well attended and the glamour, as well as the seriousness, attached to the programme, endeared it to my heart. Today, I am standing before you as the president, PANS-OAU, and we are celebrating one of our fathers, one of the foundation students of this great faculty. So it gives me great joy and I must thank the Pharmanews team from Lagos for honouring us with their presence.”
While reacting to the feat recorded by their school at the sixth edition of the programme, the lead speaker for the University of Ibadan, Anushiem Chidera, said he felt ecstatic being the winner this year again having won two times in the past, saying it was due to a lot of homework and preparation that finally paid off.
He said: “Last year, we lost narrowly, but this year we came prepared for the gold and we thank God that it is finally in our kitty.
“At UI, we usually put in a lot of effort to come out victorious in this competition but most importantly, we have a culture in the Faculty of Pharmacy, which places much priority on literary and debating activities and that has been a plus for us. The kind of support given to us by the faculty has also kept us, and not leaving out the place of God grace as well. So we are happy and we hope to do more.”
The Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Debate & Essay Competition initiative was launched in 2014, with an arrangement to allow each year’s winner to host the next contest.
Other dignitaries at the event included Dr Oluwole Adeyemi, vice-dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University; Dr Chijoke Nwasuba, Department of English, among many others.