June 12, 2024

13 yr-old clinches Info Fm maiden debate top prize

By Emmanuel Elebeke

Thirteen-year-old SS1 student of Government Science Secondary school, Piakasa in Maitama, Abuja, Excel Oma-Benedi, Wednesday clinched the N1 million grand prize of Info FM maiden debate competition held in held Abuja.

Oma-Benedi defeated Sindy Paul, 14 year old SS 2 student of Rabeto School in Wuse 2 at the final stage of the completion after a heated debate and highly contestation that  centred on the topic  ‘‘Religion has No Place Schools’’.

The two debaters made it to finals and slugged it out for the prize money of N1 million after eliminating other contestants at the round 16, round 8 and round 4 stages respectively in the maiden Abuja debate.

Speaking on the debate, the Group Program Director of Info FM, Prince Daniel Aboki said the debate  was organised because it aligned with one of the priority areas of Info FM.

‘‘The contest went beyond our expectation. One of our mission is to advance the course of education in Nigeria.’’

While responding to the challenge by Majeed, one of the judges to sustain the initiative, Aboki said, ‘‘Info FM has committed to bringing back debating clubs to power young talents in schools as well as to organise Abuja City Debate so that when next edition comes, the contestants would be prepared, it is something that we will do, it is a commitment.’’

On the planning, he said, a lot of educational institutions and corporate organizations shied away at the initial stage but expressed gratitude to the partners ‘‘for seeing value in education and coming on board.’’

He however, charged the families of the winners not to overlook the tough economic situation in the country and keep the prize money as a scholarship to aid the education of the kids, as a thing of  remembrance in future.

He also charged them to go and make Abuja proud in the next round of the competition in Lagos.

He explained that the next one has to be next year because all the four people that had made it at the semi-finals and finals will be meeting other winners in Lagos, alongside with those from Port Harcourt.

The Info FM Program Director who hinted on airing the next edition on a new FM Radio, Kid FM, said ‘‘As we speak, we are already constructing the Kid FM in Port Harcourt, whether we will air the next edition on our new proposed FM radio depends on how soon it gets to Abuja, if not it will still be aired on Info FM. ‘’

When asked about the pattern of selection for the contestants, he said it was an open call advertised for all the schools both public and private, which only a few participated.

For the prize winner, Oma-Benedi, the secret behind his success lied in his confidence and the people behind him.

He said, I’m static, is a brilliant feel, I feel great that I had the great time to compete with  the best in Abuja.  It took a lot of time, efforts and support from those around me.’’

When asked if he is ready to replicate his victory at the national level in Lagos, he said, ‘‘Expect the best of my ability from the Lagos edition. I am certain that God who has brought me this far will see me through in Lagos.’’

On what he would do with the prize money, he said he preferred to keep that confidential, nothing that ‘‘this has been the best two weeks in my life.’’

 Apart from NI million prize, he was given complementary prizes from sponsors: Call to Fly and a tablet from 3Js Hotels and Apartment.

Also speaking on her experience, the runners up, Sindi Paul, said, ‘’It feels like a dream that I am going to wake up at any moment. I never experienced something like this before.  I am very grateful that I am able to come to face my fears and anxiety, to compete with the best in Abuja. I am going to invest half of my prize and on Lagos edition, I am going to try so much harder so that I will represent Abuja well.’’

Meanwhile, Sindi, who came second in the contest got N500,000 prize, tablet  other consolation from sponsors as both would be going to represent Abuja at the national level soon.

The judges, Majeed Dahiru and Irene Bangwell,  based their judgement on the originality of presentations of the debaters, points raised, mannerism, authenticity of their arguments and  originality.

They had three minutes each at the first round, another three minutes each in the second round and also three minutes each at the last round.