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“Watch Out For What’s Going To Happen”- Ayeni Otito-Jesu, TLDS President Blows Hot Ahead Of Jaw War’21.

Jaw War is here, the largest public speaking event in the sub-Sahara Africa is upon us again and the world is about to see the best of intellectual capacity mixed with vibes jabs and entertainment on display by students of the University of Ibadan, the first and best.

Since the last edition of Jaw war in 2019, the whole of the University of Ibadan community has looked forward to the next edition, although the 2020 edition was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition of Jaw war promises to be something like never before, U.I is set to see Jaw war on another level. With just days to the start of the main event, Campus News caught up with the president of The Literary and Debating Society, University of Ibadan, Mr Ayeni Otito-Jesu and we discussed in length what to expect from Jaw war 2021, the problems encountered along the pathways of preparations and even his predictions amongst many other things discussed.

Campus News: Good morning Mr Ayeni Otito-Jesu, welcome to Campus News, it is safe to say it’s no longer news that you are the president of TLDS University of Ibadan, your name has been a recurring figure amongst students and even in the media, pls tell us how it has been being the President of TLDS and most especially at this time that Jaw war seems to be the only thing UITES want to hear?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: The fame within the University of Ibadan and beyond is one that brings me to spotlight and makes expectations high about my performance in office of President. That is one thing that can make one very conscious of the need to not disappoint but as much as this is bound to happen, I have made the effort to not get pressurized or puzzled by those expectations, hence, I do the work as I have decided on before coming to office. And that corroborates my efficiency and effectiveness especially that I’m bringing a new face to Jaw War. Being the President of TLDS has been a sweet experience for me, because I have set a standard that is difficult to pull down and most importantly, I’m the brain behind the coming edition of this year’s tournament — Jaw War ’21. Jaw War is the major event that Uites really turn up for and at a time like this, at times, I feel nervous when I remember that the day is drawing near, but as a way of calming down, I remember that I have put in the work and I believe that nothing dies in my hands.

Campus News: Jaw war is just around the corner, or should we say it’s right in front of us now, give us a little hint into what has gone on in the background to make this year’s Jar war a reality, the hitches, the battles you’ve had to fight, the preparations and all.

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: Like you’ve said, I’ve had to fight so many battles and that is because if you will make a change, you must step on toes. The mode of operation for Jaw War has been modified for this year’s tournament and this is because we need a more stringent structure that can set the pace for people to learn, put in the action that is required and bring out results from that effort they have put in. First, I have had to cut down on the size of those speaking for this year’s tournament. There are 10 speakers from each constituency and that was done to have a concentrated effort on a set of speakers who should champion the cause of their hall or faculty. 122 speakers will deliver at Jaw War this year, and we have 200 registered speakers for the tournament, putting into consideration, those that will speak twice.
Second is the recognition that Jaw War deserves. If you notice, the hype and publicity around Jaw War 2021 has been massive. That was intentional, because Jaw War has grown in intensity and quality and must be heard in the four corners of the country & beyond. What gave me an insight into how that recognition has become to be was when I received 3 international calls from the US, Poland and UK, and from my interaction with those people, it was clear that something had begun to change.
Third is the speakers’ bootcamp. For some media rounds I have done before now, the question that keeps popping up is that “Jaw War is seen as a place where speakers insult one another and throw jabs to entertain the audience. Is that what Jaw War is all about?”
This has been the narrative for a while and as a way of curtailing those excesses, we have organized and had a 3-day bootcamp for the 200+ speakers on argumentation, research and use of facts and delivery. May I pend it here for now and leave the rest for after the tournament. (Laughs)

Campus News: Also, tell us something new about this year’s Jaw War. Is it just the regular things we’ve always seen or known Jar war as or we should expect something different. Yes we know if it doesn’t spoil, it doesn’t need fixing but then, you know change is a constant thing or should I say evolution, what is the new thing we should expect from Jaw War’ 21?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: So many things are new and I have mentioned a few of them in the question before this. The most fascinating is that Jaw War is going National for the very first time . Expect to see new speakers — many old faces have graduated — and expect less of insults this year. And yes, Jaw War finals will be holding at the International Conference Centre for the very first time.

Campus News: Jaw War is a massive event and it pulls crowd and that’s a fact. The only event that pulls more crowd than Jaw War in U.I is Pastor Adeboye’s yearly crusade, so we would love to ask, what’s the plan for containing crowd especially with the COVID-19 protocols in U.I, will Jaw war be ticketed or will it be on pre register to gain entrance or would it be an online streaming thing, what exactly is the plan for Jaw War’ 21?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: We have drawn a logistical plan on how to curtail the large crowd and the truth remains that, crowd control in this kind of event is somewhat uneasy, because uites already start gathering at the venue 2 or 3 hours before we start but as a way of complying with the guidelines, we have made provisions for;

  1. Registration of attendees which should begin 2 days to the start of the competition;
  2. Compulsory use of masks and sanitizers;
  3. Live streaming via different platforms for people to watch, irrespective of their location

Campus News: It’s no longer news that Ayeni Otito-Jesu would be representing Kenneth Mellanby Hall at Jaw War 2021, you are arguably the best public speaker that has come out of U.I in the past decade, what should we be expecting from you as this would be your last jar war performance? Have we seen your best in the past or you’ve saved the best for the last?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: Hmm… No lies, I’m one of the best products from the Public Speaking sphere in U.I. but as for my participation, I just would say that everyone should watch out for what’s going to happen. Let’s just get started on Wednesday, September 29 2021 first.

Campus News: Jaw War is going national this year as you have announced, and we’ve been seeing the fund raising flyers seeking for sponsorship and even crowd funding. What is the rationale behind the national event, is it another strategy to show the dominance of U.I over other universities, which is obvious, U.I still remains the first and best, or what exactly is funding the push for a national Jaw War Competition?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: To every embarkment, funding is very important. Jaw War has been underfunded and ‘na lack of money dey kill idea’, like many would say. The need for crowdfunding came to be because in the past, we have had people who want to do something for Jaw War but there has been no platform for them to do. Asides that, we believe that there’s so much that can be generated for this competition if the public contributes. So it’s not showoff or dominance to claim the place of U.I. as the first and best but as a way of giving people the avenue to be a part of this cause and see it successful.

CAMPUS NEWS: So as the TLDS President and even a public speaker I’m sure you have seen some the participants that the halls and faculty are presenting, do you think U.I is in for a shock this time around? A number of new faces and some returning faces. What do you think, is there anyone we should be keeping our eyes on for this year’s event?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: This situation is a testament of the popular statement by Nigerians that,
“…soldier go, soldier come but barrack remain.”
There are some new faces because those who occupied that space for some time have left. The returning faces are showing up too because they are still in the system. By the time they graduate, a new set takes over. And as for the ones we should keep our eyes on, I think you should watch out for every single speaker. They have prepared hard and anybody can surprise us.

Campus News : As Ayeni Otito-Jesu now, give us your predictions for eventual winners of Jaw War and even your predictions for the best speaker at the end of the event?

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: I would not want to do that because of the position I hold as President — so many people have been discussing and arguing those that will become eventual winners — but for me, I’ll say that you should expect anything from anybody, any hall or faculty.

Campus News: Thank you so much for your time sir, we really appreciate.

Ayeni Otito-Jesu: Thank you very much for having me once again. It was a pleasure doing this for Society .

The 2021 edition of the competition will kick off on Wednesday 29 September 2021. This year’s edition is themed “Africa in the era of the new normal”

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