Cuttington University (CU) has won this year’s Inter Universities and Colleges Debate organized by NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Monrovia.
NAYMOTE Program Assistant, Bako Korboi Shuaibu, said the purpose of the competition, which ran from November 7 to December 5, 2019, is to highlight understanding of the Local Government Act (LGA) of 2018 to benefit the youthful population.
Shuaibu said that the competition became significant as the result of citizens’ failure to comprehend the LGA.
MIA Decentralization and Local Government Specialist, D. Emmanuel Wheinyue, said the event was designed to popularize the LGA, develop university students’ skills and knowledge to critically think, discuss and analyze the importance of the LGA of 2018 towards local economic development, participatory decision-making and job creation for young people, help them to develop a civic, political opportunities and ownership of the LGA of 2018 implementation.
The Inter-universities and Colleges Debates was conducted among eight universities and colleges across the country.
Schools that participated in the entire exercise were the Stella Maris Polytechnic University, United Methodist University Smythe Institute of Management and Technology, African Methodist Episcopal University, CU, Bong and Grand Bassa Counties Technical Colleges, and the Vision College in Grand Bassa County.
The competition, which officially began on November 7, 2019 at the Unification Pavilion, Buchanan City, was held under the theme, “Youth Perspectives on the LGA 2018.”
During the grand finale between CU and UMU, CU defended the proposition; “Local Government will bring Speedy Development to Liberia than the current centralized system of government,” while the UMU defended the opposite.
Captain of the CU debate team, Beulah Nimene, clarified that local government will bring speedy development to Liberia, because it will bring a sense of participation among locals, as well as address the issue of division of labour across government.
Student Nimene further said this will bring education and human capital development.
In her deliberations, she said decentralization is the only means to put Liberia on development map. Decentralization process, she said, has the people in mind, quoting Article 1 of the 1986 Constitution, which talks about how the power is vested in the people, and therefore, the people must be part of the decision making the process of development.
Captain of UMU debate team, Clifton Glee, said that Local Government Act cannot bring about speedy development if the issues that destroyed the fabric of the society is not addressed.
Student Glee named issues such as corruption, lack of accountability and integrity which, according to him, has become a threat to the growth and development of the country.
He also stressed the need to revisit laws on the books and re-awaken their full implementation, as well as invest in the social norms and fabrics to instill integrity in the people.
“Until these issues are fully addressed, the Local Government Act will not bring speedy development to our country than the current centralized system,” Glee said in his defense.
Eventually, CU won the competition with 89.33%, and was therefore awarded L$100,000, while UMU, which that took the second place with 85.53%, walked away with L$50,000.
The exercise kicked off between Grand Bassa Community College (GBCC), the Vision College in the first encounter of the seven matches conducted across the project’s locations.
Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf assured organizers of the program that the ministry will remain engaged with civil society organizations (CSOs) such as NAYMOTE and other partners to ensure that the LGA is fully implemented to better the lives of the citizens.
The program is funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Naymote Executive Director, Eddie Jarwolo, appreciated the partners, and government for the support to conduct the project.
Mr. Jarwolo said the program will enhance institutions, colleges/universities and students’ understanding of national policy, something he said also will help them identify, discuss, think and critically analyze how to make the country better.”