The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, UNN, Prof Charles Igwe has appointed the immediate past Head, Department of Linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian Languages of the university, Prof Chris UchelAgbedo, as the substantive Director, Centre for Igbo Studies of the institution.
In a letter, dated August 2, 2021, Prof Igwe enjoined Prof Agbedo to "give leadership required to inspire staff and students of the Centre to work with vigour towards the efforts of his Administration to make the UNN a Centre of Excellence and her programmes/products globally competitive."
Already, Agbedo has formally assumed duty at the Centre after receiving a handover note from the immediate past Director of the Centre, Prof Roseline Ijeoma Okorji, who gave a brief run-down of the activities of the Centre during her 3-year tenure.
The former Director congratulated her successor, on his well-deserved appointment and prayed God to give him the enablement to pilot the affairs of the Centre and consolidate on the landmark achievements already recorded since the establishment of the Centre.
Responding, Prof Chris Agbedo expressed gratitude to God for the opportunity to serve Him and humanity in that capacity and prayed for God’s grace without which he, can do nothing.
Also, speaking shortly after a brief meeting with the staff, during which he expressed his happiness for the opportunity to be part of them, Prof Agbedo, asked them to redouble their efforts in their individual and collective responsibilities towards not only sustaining the glowing legacies bequeathed by the past directors and present staff of the Centre but also actualizing the noble objectives for which the Centre was established.
The Centre for Igbo Studies of the institution was formally established in 2014 with the mandate to garner and mobilise human and material resources for growing, developing, advancing, and sustaining the Igbo language, literature, and culture.
To this effect, the Centre is developing a working Programme of Action, PoA, which entails Online Igbo (embedding digital pedagogy in the Igbo language curriculum), conversational Igbo, research and documentation of linguistic, literary, and cultural aspects of Igbo, Acculturation Programme, Igbo Crafts and Arts, indigenous knowledge creation and Professions/Occupations, Inheritance Rights & Gender issues in Igbo land.
Others include, Marital and Burial Rites, Communication Modes, Kola Nut, Igbo Calendar, Traditional Religion, Cultural Festivals and Carnivals, Igbo Political System and Tourist Sites in Igboland among others.
However, to actualise the PoA, the Centre seeks to synergize with similar institutions and organisation within and outside the UNN, including Departments of Linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian Languages, Arts Education, Fine and Applied Arts, Music, Theatre and Film Studies, Archaeology & Tourism Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, Political Science, Religion and Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Institute of African Studies, National Language Centre Abuja, Ọhaneze Ndịgbo, Royal Fathers and Cultural Centres and Icons in Igbo land as well as the Diaspora.
Furthermore, it would seek global partnerships and collaborations with Language Centres of tertiary institutions (within and outside Nigeria), Association University Language Communities (UK & Ireland), as well as apply and get accredited by the International Association of Language Centres, IALC.
Meanwhile, the current management and staff of the Centre are not unmindful of the fact that the foregoing would remain mere lofty projections unless requisite manpower, material resources, and political will are duly galvanized and deployed towards actualising them in due course.
It is to this effect, that Prof Agbedo, calls on all people of good will, well-meaning sons and daughters of Ndịgbo in Igboland and in the Diaspora, friends of Ndịgbo and lovers of Igbo language and culture to rise to the occasion and brace up to the challenges of advancing the worthy cause of Igbo language and culture.
According to him, "Together, as a people with one mind and one destiny, collectively propelled by galvanic purposefulness and the urgency of NOW, we can be the change agent with the divine mandate to change the Igbo narrative for the overall betterment of Ndịgbo and their language and culture. "Igbo ga-adị; Igbo adịrịla! The die is cast! Ugo eberela na mgbagbu!"
Earlier, in his acceptance letter, Agbedo had thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof Igwe for considering him worthy to be so appointed and pledged to do his best to take the Centre to greater heights."
He further appealed to Ndigbo in Igbo language, saying, "Ọrụ ịkwalite asụsụ na omenaala Igbo dịrị mụ na gị
Ọrụ, ọrụ dịrị mụ na gị - ọrụ
"Ndịgbo bịanụ ka anyị kwalite asụsụ na omenaala Igbo
"Ọrụ, ọrụ dịrị mụ na gị… ọrụ."