It was a gathering of Lions and Lionesses (as University of Nigeria students/graduates are often called) from all over the world at its 1st Annual Convention of UNAA-UK which was held from 19th to 22nd October 2017 at the International Centre for Life Newcastle Upon Tyne United Kingdom.
The three-day event started with arrival of delegates from various destinations within and outside the United Kingdom on Thursday 19th October. The convention proper was kicked off with a courtesy call on the MP Newcastle Central Chi Onwurah on Friday 20th October at the Discovery Museum where UNAA-UK received a very warm reception to Newcastle. Delegates present were the UNAA-UK Executives, 2017 UNAA-UK Convention Planning Committee, UNAA global President Chief Barr. Andrew Oru, immediate past Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics of UNN Prof Poly Chigbu, UNN Professor of Tourism Prof Peter U.C. Dieke, Ndi-Igbo NorthEast England represented by chairman Dr Jude Eze, Nigeria Association of Tyne and Wear represented by chairman Chief Otu Chukwu-Etu, and other UNAA-UK members present. The courtesy call was followed by guided tour of the Museum, giving some history on various preserved inventions. Lions and Lionesses, and their friends then embarked on sight-seeing of the city led by Mr Ken Uwakwe Odo, President UNAA-UK. Members were later treated to pre-convention dinner to set the ball rolling for the main event the following day.
Saturday 21st October was the convention proper, whose theme was “Roaring in Diaspora and Looking Back Home”, chaired by David Faulkner OBE. The keynote speaker, Prof. Peter U.C. Dieke, speaking on “The Lion Goes Back Home: Challenges and Prospects”, traced his humble background and the challenges faced on returning home after a long period of absence. He also discussed how we can adapt successfully to overcome challenges and fit back into the society. Prof. Peter U.C. Dieke’s paper presentation can be read here
The convention also highlighted linkages and partnerships with new and existing universities in the United Kingdom as a way of supporting academic excellence in the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Presentations by Prof Benjamin Ozumba Vice Chancellor University of Nigeria Nsukka (whose speech was read by Ukonu Obasi), and Sabrina Mimid (Global Partnership Manager University of York) on The University of Nigeria potentials for partnership with UK Universities and University of York partnership potentials for UNN respectively, were aimed at building relationships to assist the University regain its repute position and ranking as a premier institution of learning in Nigeria, Africa and globally by drawing on the strengths of UK linked universities for a start.
Highlight of the morning was the special treat to 4D Motion Ride experience by International Centre for Life.
The business session was called to order by UNAA-UK President, Ken Uwakwe Odo, at 3pm. The session was solely for UNAA-UK and UNAA members represented. The agenda was circulated by the Secretariat and adopted by members. The President informed the house of recent births by the following members – Ego Ohazulike, John K. Ugwuanyi, Mr and Mrs Eze and Oluchi Anozie, Hyginus Eze and Paul Omeje.
The President’s report recounted the formation of the Association from its inauguration in July 2016, through to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in April 2017 and the Family event in July. He also noted the challenges the association had in opening a bank account. He expressed optimism that with the convention, the association will build on its successes and learn from its challenges. He thanked the UNAA Nigerian delegates Osaro Omogiade and Linda U. Agua Onyekwere for the effort made to attend, especially Linda who despite securing her visa late Friday flew in from Nigeria the morning of the convention, a true reflection of passion and spirit of Alumni.
The Secretary, Ukonu Obasi, presented a written report, which he read. It was accepted and adopted by the general house.
The Financial Secretary, Charles Odo, gave a report, which showed the financial standing of the association to date. He gave a detailed breakdown of the association’s expenditure from inauguration till date. He encouraged members to pay their dues to enable the association to be financially stable. The report was adopted by the house.
The Welfare Officer, John Kelechi Ugwuanyi, highlighted the welfare packages that members were entitled to, by the provision of the association’s bye laws. He spoke about some of the visits that the association made in fulfilment of those entitlements, and commended the president who had done a lot to visit people across the country who had different things to celebrate.
The Public Relations Officer, Obianuju Amamgbo, informed the members that the association’s website was set up 24 hours after the inauguration of the association. She also informed members that the association has set up two WhatsApp groups to enable members have discussions and there was members directory which she encouraged members to join. She highlighted that the association sent Christmas cards to members with the list of dates for the associations major events. She promised to continue to stay in contact with members and keep them informed of activities of the association regardless of their financial standing in the association.
Election of executive officers was conducted to fill vacant positions by Prof Poly Chigbu who was appointed the chair of the electoral committee. This was followed by the inauguration of the full executive officers by the National President, Barr Andrew Oru for two-year tenure. This was followed by appointments to boards and standing committees.
The date and venue for the 2018 was agreed for 18 – 21 October 2018 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.
Dr Oloto’s suggestion to have the Convention as the main event for the association’s calendar to merge it with the AGM was accepted by members. He also suggested that the activities for the convention should start from Friday evening, instead of Thursday, in order to save cost for delegates. He further suggested to have an academic side to the convention, which will allow people to use it as an academic leave. These matters were referred to the convention committee for deliberation.
The association members in Newcastle bowed to the wish of the house and accepted to host the 2018 convention.
John Ugwuanyi urged members to make contributions of ideas and resources to ensure that the 2018 convention is bigger and more successful than the maiden one.
A vote of thanks on behalf of the executive and convention planning committee was given by Monica Allison to end the business session.
Highlight of the business session was the cutting of Alumni cake specially made by Monica to mark the event.
The grand finale was the gala night with highlight of Nigerian themed menu prepared by the International Centre for Life, a first of its kind as confirmed by MP Chi Onwurah, who is hoping to convince the chefs to prepare similar for herself and her guests. This was capped with a selection of Nigerian songs with throwback from the 80’s which left sweet memories in the minds of those who attended.
Sunday 22nd October was departure of delegates back to their respective base.
Amongst dignitaries’ present over the three-day program were Chi Onwurah (MP Newcastle Central), Chief Barr. Andrew Oru (Global President, University of Nigeria Nsukka Alumni Association), Prof. Peter U.C. Dieke (Professor of Tourism, George Manson University USA and University of Nigeria Nsukka), Prof. Poly E. Chigbu (Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, UNN), Mr Emmanuel Namah (Minister, Nigeria High Commission, London), Ms Sabrina Mimid (Global partnership Manager University of York), David Faulker OBE (Newcastle Upon Tyne Councillor, Director of International Newcastle and Coordinator of Waka Waka Africa North East), Alistair Balls (Chairman, International Centre for Life), Dr Jude Eze (Chairman Ndi-Igbo NorthEast England), Chinwe Amakalu (Vice Chair Ndi-Igbo NorthEast England), Chief Otu Chukwu-Etu (Chairman Nigeria Association of Tyne and Wear). Distinguished Alumni (Lions and Lionesses) and their family/friends from all walks of life and from all over the world included Dr. Emeka Oloto, Dr. Nnaemeka Okpala, Dr Patricia Eseonu, Dr Onisuru German, Dr. Christian Okoli, Dr. Francis Kalu, Kevin Amoke, Chibueze Ogbonnaya, Mrs Hilda Amadi, Oluchi Ibegbu, Emeka Uzochukwu. UNAA delegates from Nigeria – Chief Andrew Oru, Prof P.E Chigbu, Prof P.U.C Dieke, Mrs Linda U Agua Onyekwelu, Osaro Omogiade, UNAA-UK family/friends – Dr Onyebuchi Eseonu, Daniel Allison, Karolina Lazdauskaite and baby Zizi Ohazulike, UNAA-UK executives – Ken Uwakwe Odo, Ego Offor Ohazulike, Romeo Amalu, Kingsley O. Ugwuanyi, Charles Odo, Monica Allison, John Kelechi Ugwuanyi, Ukonu Obasi and Obianuju Amamgbo.
Visit our photo gallery page for eye-catching pictures covering the event
Report by Ukonu Obasi and Obianuju Amamgbo for UNAA-UK