By Tope Templer Olaiya
For Mary Adegunloye, 200-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), winning is everything, most especially doing it on a big stage. And there is no bigger stage at the first-rate university than being the champion of the annual inter-faculty debate.
At least, till the end of the 2013/2014 session, apart from the cash prize of N50,000 and a high-tech laptop, she strolls the turf with the bragging right as the university’s chief orator. Temitope from Clinical Sciences came second, while Osas Odiase, from the faculty of Engineering, finished third.
Beaming with smiles after being announced as winner of this year’s debate, which was competed among 13 faculties, Mary told The Guardian that winning the contest was a dream come true and a step forward to realizing a bigger dream.
“Debating is something I always love doing, so it gives me a sense of satisfaction doing what I love doing and doing it well. For me, the bigger picture is making a mark in future in the media world and this will help build my confidence, charisma and relationship with people,” she said.
The debate was an intellectual platform to discuss issues pertaining to the Nigerian situation and this year’s topic was Sovereign National Conference (SNC): Is it desirable at this stage of Nigeria’s development.
Mary supported the motion and her argument went thus: “The SNC is an assembly of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to discuss the national question, which is the basis of our existence as a single entity. The end result of it is dialogue among the various ethnic groups. In 1914, we were amalgamated and not integrated.
“Another issue to be discussed at the SNC is our constitution. We need to draft a constitution that truly reflects the values and aspirations of the people. ‘We, the people of Nigeria,’ was not a part of the 1999 constitution in the true sense of the word. We also need to define our federal structure. What we practice at the moment is centralized federalism, which is a contradiction. It is either a central system or a federal system.”
The ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), according to her, is not cool. “While some students are praying for it not to end to catch up on their reading, others are looking at the time wasted.
“For instance, our mates at the University of Ilorin are not on strike and by the time they would be graduating, we may still be in 200 level. The delay is a clog in the wheel of progress of the country’s educational system. The strike has since lost its relevance in forcing the hand of government to their demands,” she noted.
Despite the noise about the dwindling standard of education, Mary beats her chest that it is not the case with the classy Unilag. “Academic in Unilag is very competitive, which is why only the best end up being students. It is like war gaining admission into Unilag. So, you can find a 300-level student here who can’t compose a simple letter.”
What about having the school renamed Moshood Abiola University in the nearest future? It was a sharp remark that followed. It is not happening to Unilag. It can’t just happen.”