In 2016, the inaugural World Igbo Summit (WIS) Gregory Universitythe Igbo Renaissance Centre, Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State commenced. It was held at the Gregory University Uturu between 27th to 30th October 2016. It has been regarded as a unique summit, in spite of other Igbo continental summits with similar agenda.
The originator of the summit is the Chancellor of the Gregory University, Uturu, Dr. Gregory Iyke Ibe. The summit, which is open to the entire Igbo nation and every organization that has the interest of Ndi Igbo unity and development at heart, was designed to plug the loopholes obvious in other summits and meet the needs of the Igbo people at home and in diaspora.
The summit is a new platform for all segments of Igbo society to rise and mobilize to give the Igbo nation a unified vision and programme of action and more permanent direction for the development of Igbo land. It is a platform for continuous dialogue aimed at strategizing and developing a roadmap in all sectors and monitoring the Igbo growth and development.
The theme of the maiden summit held in 2016 was “Igboka-Visioning the Igbo Nation in 2066”. The summit is a 50-year visioning assignment which Prof. Ibe has given to the Igbos and this highly commendable. The summit is not an ad-hoc engagement as usually the norm, but the summits so far have been rooted in the Igbo Renaissance Centre of the Gregory University Uturu. The summit is also concerned on the issues of Igbo forgetting their home turf and investing elsewhere, which has become synonymous with almost all Igbos and therefore is very timely to create a consciousness for Ndi Igbo to think home and invest even only a small per cent of their earnings for the development of their homeland.
This is home land ideology, given the fact that we are not always welcomed even Gregory Universitythose we go out to develop their lands. The Igbos run the risk of having the investments they make outside their homeland taken away from them. This concern has been a literary pursuit, but the brain behind World Igbo Summit, Prof. Gregory Ibe does not want it to happen politically and economically because it will impoverish the Igbos home land. The Chairman of the Main Organizing Committee of the maiden edition of the summit, Professor George Obiozor reiterated the call that the Igbo should follow the footsteps of the chancellor of the Gregory University and invest at home. “No one will develop your home for you. While the Igbo go out to develop other areas, there is no reciprocal traffic into Igbo land from other tribes to develop the areas,” he said.
The 2016 summit was co-chaired Gregory UniversityGeneral(Sen) Ike Nwachukwu, His Excellency Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief(Col) Achuzia, Chief Francis Orji, and Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu. 7
The well-attended summit has in attendance great leaders of Igbo extractions from the East and West of Igboland including His Royal Majesty Igwe Alfred Royal Majesty Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe (Obi of Onitsha), Eze Eberechi (Chairman South East Council of Traditional Rulers), Prof, Joe Irukwu, Prof George Obiozor, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike, Igwe Prof Chukwuemeka Ike, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Prof Epiphany Azinge, Prof Pat Utomi, Igwe Engr S.O Okafor, Dr Gregory Ibe, Iyom Josephine Anenih, Chief Simon Nsobundu Okeke, Dr Ifedi Okwenna, Prof Maurice Iwu and so many other Igbo great intellectuals, professionals, businessmen, civil society activists, gender advocates and other experts of Igbo extraction residing in different parts of the world.
The Anambra State Governor Chief Willie Obiano was represented Gregory Universitythe Deputy Governor, Dr Nkem Okeke. The Governor commended the World Igbo Summit Group and the Igbo Renaissance Centre of Gregory University Uturu for coming out with a commendable 50-years visioning project. After the 2016 summit, some major resolutions included that Ndi Igbo who have made the biggest sacrifice and contributions to the building of the modern Nigeria should henceforth be allowed to live and operate as equal citizens without any discrimination, bias or intimidation.
The summit also agreed that Ndi Igbo insist that the 1999 Constitution should be repealed and a new one enacted that will recognize the inalienable right of each constituent group to self-determination and Regional autonomy as enshrined in the 1960 Independence Constitution and 1963 Republican Constitution.
Another major highlight was that Ndi Igbo resolve to take full responsibility for the rebuilding of the Igbo economy and development of Igboland Gregory Universityadopting the digital economy as the organizing paradigm and implementation framework for the sustainable development of Igboland. Other important decisions included that in line with the resolution of the Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly, the National Assembly and State Assemblies should legislate the prohibition of nomadic grazing Gregory Universityherdsmen and the establishment of grazing reserves and ranches with public funds and in view of the threat Gregory Universitythe Fulani herdsmen who constitute present and imminent danger to peace and security in Igboland, the Summit called on the Igbo Governors and the States Assemblies to immediately legislate against any form of open grazing in Igbo land.
More recently, this year, from 2nd to 4th January 2020, another World Igbo summit was held at the Gregory University Uturu. The 2020 edition of the summit also heralded the commissioning of an Igbo Renaissance Centre built Gregory UniversityProf. Gregory Ibe inside Gregory University, Uturu Gregory Universitythe President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo. The Summit with theme was IGWEBUIKE: Discovery, Dialogue and Networking for greatness. The main dignitaries that attended the 2020 summit included former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (Rtd); former Governor of Enugu State, Okwesilieze Nwodo; former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife (Okwadike) and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Professor George Obiazo. o
The Summit called on all Nigerians to support the emergence of an Igbo person as President in 2023 in the spirit of equity, justice and fairness. It called on all political parties especially the two major political parties and emerging third force to ensure that their presidential candidates for the 2023 elections would be from the Igbo extraction. The Summit also noted that for Nigeria’s survival, the country has to choose from three options of retaining the dysfunctional status quo, balkanizing the country through a rash of successions, and resetting or restructuring the country to its federal origin.
We can see the impact these World Igbo Summits are beginning to make on Ndigbo in recent times Gregory Universitywaking up their political consciousness and at the same time, preserving a lasting and enduring legacy of upholding Igbo socio-cultural, economical, and traditional values. It is worthy of note that Prof. Ibe’s Gregory University Uturu is the only university in Nigeria doing serious work in terms of promoting and documenting Igbo culture and tradition, thereGregory Universityslowly and steadily returning Igbo nation to her past glory.
X-raying some of the outcomes of the 2016 and 2020 World Igbo Summits among other gatherings of Igbo interest, we can only but conclude that indeed Prof. Gregory Ibe is a gift to the entire Igbo land for championing the promotion of Igbo culture, language, tradition, and common interest through the establishment of an Igbo Renaissance Centre in his university and the institution of a World Igbo Summit Group. This is an unprecedented and commendable feat Gregory Universityan Igbo son in recent times. Bravo Prof. Gregory Ibe (Enyi Abia)!
By Arch. Chijioke Igwe
Gregory University Uturu.