AfriHeritage and Abuja Based Associate Fellows: A Night of Positive Interactions
The African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage), On Tuesday, 14th November, 2017, hosted its Associate Fellows based in Abuja to an interactive session in the nation’s capital. The event which took place at Valencia Hotel, Wuse II, witnessed an impressive turnout of research and Associate Fellows who have not been very active in the Institution’s activities especially in the last two years or more.
Welcoming the Associate Fellows to the meeting, the Executive Director of AfriHeritage, Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, thanked his guests for honouring the invitation and said he was delighted to meet with the Fellows and to interact and share with them on how the Institution can re-invent its successes of the past years, after several attempts to have the meeting in Enugu failed. According to him, “the essence of this interactive session is first for us to meet, discuss on ways we can have a better and more rewarding relationship, particularly on the expectations of, and from an associate fellow of the Institution”, he admonished the Fellows to re-invent the same enthusiasm which helped the Institution achieve some milestones in the past.
The Executive Director who set the mood and agenda for the night’s discussion identified such areas as possible areas of collaboration; re-classification of fellowship of the institution; incentives and reward system; acknowledgement of membership in publications as well as 2018 workplan of AfriHeritage as issues for deliberation.
Responding, the Abuja based Associate Fellows thanked the Executive Director and the Institution for enabling such an interaction which was long overdue, given the fact that they were yet to meet the Executive Director since his assumption of office middle of 2016. They observed that a few issues have hindered a free flow of interaction between the institution and its Associate fellows, these according to them include: the transition from African Institute of Applied Economics (AIAE) to African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage) which has not really sank well with the fellows given the fact that no formal campaign was done to launch the change of the corporate name; the slow pace cum decline in which the institution was following social, economic and political events in the country; non-recognition of the contributions of the earlier Fellows who helped the Institution attain its enviable heights in the past; non-attractive incentives and compensation packages for the Associate fellows based on experience and expertise. Other issues raised include: lack of trainings, conferences, seminars, etc. on economic and related areas where fellows can come in as resource persons, as it used to be the case in the past.
According to Dr Frank Amagwu, one of the Associate Fellows, AfriHeritage can still reclaim its position as a top notch research institution if some of the observations made tendered are taken into consideration.
As a way forward, the Associate fellows in Abuja agreed among themselves to become more involved in the activities of the Institution. They therefore resolved to hold quarterly meetings and interactive sessions even without waiting for the promptings of the Institution. According to them, Dr. Frank Amagwu and Mr. Chidiebere Ibe are to coordinate the meetings and keep AfriHeritage regularly updated.
In addition to the above, a number of other resolutions were also reached, they include:
That AfriHeritage should recognize the older and active fellows who have been with the institute over the years. Issuance of certificates of membership or participation or monetary compensation could be one way. Floating a journal where members will have their papers published is another way.
Fellows should provide support to ensure that the AfriHeritage becomes number one think-tank and independent research institution in Africa as used to be the case. Members should always remember to mention AfriHeritage in their papers and publications and other relevant ways to strengthen its institutional footprint, and to make the brand more attractive.
Members were encouraged to send their updated/current CVs to the Secretariat for the purpose of proper alignment of areas of specialization on the thematic areas and easier reference or identification of expertise. There should be regular updates of members’ achievements, especially those that could be uploaded on the institution’s website.
AfriHeritage should reintroduce programs like trainings, seminars, conferences, colloquiums that will encourage participation of Fellows and non-Fellows. Having regular programs in Abuja with commensurate media support and coverage will resonate widely and reawaken the consciousness of the institution in the minds of the public.
In order to improve capacity, AfriHeritage should partner with sister institutions as well as seek funding support for some of their training programs or even for their members to participate in training elsewhere by reaching out to institutions like the Central Bank of Nigeria and development agencies.
For a more cordial relationship between older Fellows and the Institution, the emphasis should be on “partnership given the fact that many of them work as consultants in their own right or own rival private firms. Therefore, the terms of engagement must be re-negotiated within the context of partnership where the individual is the originator or source of the idea or project.
Members should try as much as possible to follow AfriHeritage’s activities on social media (Faceook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc.). Older members should help in mentoring the younger members and researchers of AfriHeritage.
Members should also participate in linking AfriHeritage to other relevant institutions both within and outside the country.
In conclusion, the Executive Director once again, thanked the Associate Fellows for finding time to share with the Institution, he also appreciated them for their immeasurable contribution towards the success story of AfriHeritage. He assured them that the Institution will surely develop a robust collaborative working package that will be mutually rewarding to everyone. He pledged that henceforth, monthly/quarterly reports will be sent to them in order to keep them updated on the goings-on at the Institution.