Of Expectations and Stern Competition: Who Will Win The 62ND UIMSA Health Week Debate?

As medical students, we’re either in classes or at the clinic studying our way into becoming doctors. Yearly, a chance presents itself for us to step out of the clinics and classes to have fun for a whole week. Medical students of the university of Ibadan eagerly await the commencement of major events of the 62nd Health Week. The Health Week is an annual event hosted by the University of Ibadan Medical Students Association featuring various activities such as bonfire, chap, symposium, dinner night and most interestingly, interlevel competitions. The interlevel competitions include sports competitions, the interlevel quiz competition and the debate competition. 

The debate competition is always an interesting one. In a battle of wits, banters and punchlines, stern competition is witnessed and upsets are created. Juniors go against seniors, attempting to bowl them over while seniors aim to affirm their experiential advantage over juniors. This year’s edition is set to hold in two rounds: the preliminary round and the final round. The preliminary round shall hold on Sunday, the third of March. The draws are out and the topics are out. It’s bound to be an exciting ride. But just before the debate, we reached out to UIMSAites to find out what their speculations on the debate are.

Our correspondent spoke with Emmanuel Adebiyi, a member of the 100-level class. 

Q: This is the first time your class will be participating in this competition. What are your expectations?

Emmanuel: Okay. My expectations are not very high but not too low. I expect that we would be underrated by the opponent but we will surprise them… not really by the results or stating that we would beat them but by how well we could perform. Even if we can’t make it to the next round, it wouldn’t be by a thrashing. And if they over-underestimate (if there’s a word like that) then you could witness an upset.

Q: We are aware of the fact that you were crowned Zik Hall Literary and Debating Rookie of the Year last year.  What should we expect from you and how far do you think your class will go in this competition?

Emmanuel: Like you said, this is the first time for the class so I don’t know how strong other classes are and can’t predict. However, I believe public speaking competitions are levellers. It’s not by how long you’ve been in it but how well you do it. Although, ‘how long’ can contribute to ‘how well’. UIMSA should get ready for us. 

We also spoke to Elizabeth Ayegboyin from the 200-level class who are also first-timers at the competition. 

Q: Your class is participating in the competition for the first time because the debate competition was swapped with pageantry last year. What are your expectations?

Elizabeth: I think we’d do quite well. We might not have participated in a UIMSA debate before but it doesn’t mean we don’t have the capabilities too. Besides, there’s a first time for everything.

Q: What do you feel about your class being drawn with the defending champions of this competition?

Elizabeth: It is a bit daunting, seeing as they are the most experienced as they’ve spent more years in UI and the public speaking community than any other class but I believe we will pose a challenge to them. They will not have it easy with us.

Olajire from the 300-level class downplayed the possibility of the Medical Board exams dampening their focus on the competitions and showed confidence in his class’s debate team. 

Q: Your class will be preparing for the debate while also writing the first professional exam. What do you feel about this?

Olajire: The schedule is quite tight but I’m very positive my class debaters are ready to put in their very best. The attention span is divided but they’ll deliver to the best of their abilities.

Q: You are facing members of the 500 level class who are more experienced in this competition in the first round. Do you think this will matter?

Olajire: My class is well equipped with speakers who have represented their various halls in the popular Jaw War competition. I can say they have relatively acquired the necessary experience and knowledge for a competition like this.  It doesn’t really matter, to be honest. 

Q: This is your second appearance at the competition. How far do you think you will go this time?

Olajire: We’ll go far. See you in the finals.

Victor Mong, the team lead of 400 level debate team said that the return of the debate competition was a good idea and he also affirmed his confidence in his class’s team. 

Q:  The debate competition was swapped with the pageantry last year and now, it has been returned. What do you feel about this?

Victor: I am sure the Health Week committee or whoever made the decision thought it was the best thing for the association at the time, and while I agree that the pageantry may have served a purpose, I think it was a  wrong call to replace the debate competition with it. The interclass debate competitions are a matter of class pride and also help build speakers for the association for larger stages, not to mention the opportunities it provides for personal development in public speaking for members of the association. There’s also the fact that decisions reflect priorities, the choice to replace debate competitions with pageantry says a lot.

Q: How confident are you about your class running the show at this competition?

Victor: I have a strong team, and nobody ever did it better than 2k23 at public speaking, so I’ll say 10/10. 

Q:  Your class will be facing the freshers in the first round of the competition. Do you think it will be an easy one?

Victor: No, and I don’t expect it to be. The fact that I have never met their speakers makes it even more interesting. But this much is certain, the only way they are making it to the next round is as best losers.

A member of the 500-level class who chose to remain anonymous hoped that more academic and religious activities would be included in this year’s health week. 

Q: Last year, we did not have the debate competition but it is back this year. What do you feel about the usual switch in the activities of the health week?

Anonymous: Well, my opinion is that I actually have no idea what they are cooking but I hope that they have stuff to engage people like me who go to Church, hospital and love book ?

Q: I’m sure they do, haha. This is possibly the penultimate Health Week debate competition for your class (if the debate competition returns next year). Do you think your class will win it?

Anonymous: Why not, my class must win o. I really hope they win.

Gladys Ibrahim from the 600-level class is confident in the public speakers of her class and thinks they can successfully defend their title. 

Q: Your class won the debate competition two years ago. Are you confident about your chances of retaining the title?

Gladys: I’m quite confident in the abilities of the public speakers in my class. It goes without saying that we have some of the most seasoned speakers, seeing as we were the champions of the last competition. I believe that they will be bringing the trophy home once again, and for the final time, before we take a bow out of school. 

Q:  Your class is facing the 200-level class who are first-timers in this competition. Do you think you will easily beat them?

Gladys: I haven’t witnessed the speakers in the 200-level class so I don’t know what to expect from their end. I’m only certain of the abilities of my class speakers and I hope that the 200-level class bring on a good challenge.

Q: It is possibly the last debate competition for your class. What are your expectations about this competition? Are you aiming to dominate every competition in the health week or choosing to enjoy the competition this time without any desire to win it all?

Gladys: Not possibly, but definitely the last. We’re just here for a good time, really. It’s not possible to win every single competition for a lot of factors, one being that some classes may be opportune to have members that are more experienced in some games. We’re currently all about creating final-year memories, and the inter-class competition provides us with the opportunity to unwind and connect as members of the class. Of course, memories of us winning will be a great thing to reminisce on in the future.

We eagerly await the surreal feeling of rising emotions and resounding cheers that the debate competition brings. Only time can answer the question: Who will win?

Emmanuel Ibitunde


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