Following many years of few unsuccessful attempts to bring Lions and Lionesses resident in this country together to form a major hub of the University of Nigeria Alumni Association (UNAA), things came to a head in the second quarter of 2016 with a meeting in London between three UK Lions and the then National President of UNAA who was on transit from Nigeria to the US at the time. The trio, Ukonu Obasi, Charles Odo and John Kelechi Ugwuanyi met with Chief Barrister Andrew Oru on 30th May 2016 at Jimmy Restaurant in O2, Greenwich, London. It is noteworthy that these four Lions were meeting one another for the very first time ever and their coming together was a direct consequence of a series of coordinated phone calls instigated by Ken Uwakwe Odo, an erstwhile National Secretary of UNAA who was unavoidably absent on that day. It was two members of UNAA’s International Networking Committee in Nigeria, George Nwolisa and Lady Doris Okoro that alerted Ken Odo of the National President’s presence in London.
The Greenwich meeting yielded a decisive outcome: a date (only weeks away) was set for a formal inauguration of the UK Branch of UNAA and Chief Oru accepted to re- turn to the UK to officially establish the chapter. The four pioneers, Ken Uwakwe Odo, Ukonu Obasi, Charles Odo and John Kelechi Ugwuanyi held several phone and Skype meetings in order to meet the agreed target, investing their time, energy and money.
Consequently, the University of Nigeria Alumni Association, United Kingdom (UNAAUK) was officially inaugurated on 16 July 2016 at Waterloo Action Centre, London, with thirteen alumni (9 Lions and 4 Lionesses) resident in the UK and the visiting Chief Barrister Oru in attendance. An interim executive committee was elected and members are:
- Ken Uwakwe Odo – President
- Ukonu Obasi – Secretary
- Charles Odo – Financial Secretary
- Monica Allison – Treasurer
- John Kelechi Ugwuanyi – Welfare Officer
- Obianuju Amamgbo – Public Relation Officer
On that day also, a constitution drafting committee comprising all the Exco members except Charles Odo was announced and mandated to produce a constitution for the young Branch of UNAA. Only a few days after the inauguration, the interim PRO placed UNAA-UK on the worldwide web as she got the “unaauk.org” website running.
In April 2017, the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of UNAA-UK was held at the Loxley House, Nottingham City Council where the Association’s constitution was presented, debated and adopted. Date and venue of the maiden convention was also agreed at the AGM and a convention committee chaired by John Kelechi Ugwuanyi was constituted.
The first annual convention took place at the Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne from 18th to 20th October 2017, with David Faulkner as chair of the main event. Lions and Lionesses enjoyed the full participation and friendship of Chi Onwurah MP, the Member of Parliament for Newcastle Central. Peter U. C. Dieke, a renowned professor of tourism delivered the convention lecture of the year.
UNAA United Kingdom was firmly set on the path of steady progress. Over a period of two years, the membership has grown from an initial thirteen to about thirty active and fully paid members in 2018. There are over one hundred alumni who identify as informal members in the Association’s WhatsApp forums. However, effort is underway to get all the social media “warriors” to formalize their membership