One year ago, precisely May 26, 2022, the International Communication Association (ICA) annual conference held in Paris, France.
Port Harcourt, Nigeria was selected as one of the few locations around the globe to host a Regional Hub that convened concurrently with the ICA annual conference. That was the only ICA Regional Hub convened in the West African sub-region.
The 2022 Port Harcourt Regional Hub was hosted by one of Nigeria’s foremost Universities, University of Port Harcourt, and was rated one of the most successful regional hubs that engaged intellectually and socially with participants in the French capital, Paris, as well as the other regional hubs.
At inception, little may have been known about the ICA among some communication scholars in faculties of communication in Nigerian Universities; but the huge success recorded at the rather experimental Regional Hub event was enough to send bookmakers on a wild goose chase.
The factors responsible for the positive response and massive turnout to the event are indeed, numerous.
First, was the enthusiasm of the participants who attended the occasion physically and a commendable number who participated virtually as though they had been praying for such an international forum, especially at a time when the Universities were shut down by industrial strikes.
However, the success story of the regional hub will be incomplete without the acknowledgement and special mention of the efforts of the Regional Hub Organizer, Ekaete George, and her team.
Ms Ekaete George, a PhD candidate in University of Port Harcourt, displayed the great organizing and mobilization skills and left no stone unturned to ensure that the regional hub was successful. The success of her excellent organizing efforts for ICA is worthy of note. To say more than this, is to be verbose.
Consequently, the ICA President, Noshir Contractor has formally expressed their deep gratitude to Ekaete George and the University of Port Harcourt for their efforts that accounted for the enormously successful Port Harcourt Regional Hub.
But more than this, there is a greater cause to celebrate. Approval has just been given by the ICA for the creation of ICA Nigerian Regional Chapter. This, according to the ICA, is to sustain an all–year–round presence worldwide.
These Regional Chapters, according to the ICA President, will have ICA branding and will organize locally or regionally recruit members and organize events that will help support and build community among undergraduate and graduate students and faculties of communication in their respective locations globally.
This is indeed, a case of ‘one good turn deserving another’ as the approval of ICA Nigeria Chapter -as one of only six sites worldwide outside the United States of America, especially in the global South- is a result of the impressive performance of hosting the Regional Hub in Port Harcourt in 2022.
Therefore, the ICA – Nigeria Regional Chapter inauguration has been scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Friday, March 24, 2023 as a kick-off-event for the ICA internationalization initiative.
This is indeed, a welcome development especially for communication scholars in Nigeria, including graduate and undergraduate students of communication studies and related disciplines, as well as media professionals who stand to have their voices heard on the global platform of ICA.
The United Nations recognized body affiliation is described by the Lead Organizer and Chair of ICA Nigeria Chapter, Ekaete George as a huge opportunity.
According to her, as the only one of only two chapters in Africa, the ICA Nigeria Chapter will serve as an additional global platform for members to make their voices and research impactful in the global knowledge arena.
Ms. George describes ICA Nigeria as a multi-disciplinary, academic membership association for scholars in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of mediated communication; and a knowledge hub for communication scholars and media practitioners in Nigeria. ICA Nigeria is poised to mobilize a tremendously large following.
On keeping the ICA Nigeria afloat, mindful that the ICA is not funding regional chapters as they are expected to be self sustaining through dues and local fundraising, Ms George remains strong and very optimistic of recording even greater successes. She credits the progress made so far to the commitment of the ICA community of like minds that she has been organizing since 2022.
She says: “I am aware that funding can be an issue. But I also know that any challenge can succumb to unyielding resolve to succeed. So even though we need funds, the most important thing for me and the team, is to deliver positive impact. We will keep our focus on the latter, while seeking partnership and support from those who want to better our communications community in terms of sponsorship, access to academic resources, and other opportunities that will allow us to be locally impactful and globally relevant.”
The Co-ordinator of the ICA Nigeria, Ekaete George who is enthusiastic of a vista of opportunities for members, enjoined her colleagues to remain passionate about ICA Nigeria Chapter, to maximise their access to cutting edge research in communication, access to the best leaders, thinkers and teachers across the world, the impact of which will far outweigh any challenges that lie ahead.
Ekaete George also lauded the role of the University of Port Harcourt, an affiliate institution of the ICA, and particularly the Vice Chancellor, Professor Owunari Georgewill for all their encouragement and support especially when seeking affiliation with the ICA at the commencement stage through the 2022 Annual Conference Regional Hub.
In what looks like a prophecy come true, Prof. Owunari in his welcome address during the 72nd ICA Conference Port Harcourt Regional Hub, described the event as in tandem with the philosophy of the University to give the institution, its lecturers and students the necessary international exposure for balanced knowledge.
Majorly, on account of that successful hosting of 2022 ICA Port Harcourt Regional Hub, the international body has approved and recognized the Port Harcourt Hub as a Nigeria Chapter with the unique Uniport as an affiliate institution.
As the inauguration of the ICA Nigeria Chapter gets underway, on Friday, March 24, at the Emerald Energy Institute Auditorium, University of Port Harcourt, the coordinator, Ekaete George says that all is set for the milestone event. She adds that the ICA Executive Committee very much committed to formally hand over the Regional Chapter baton to the Nigeria Chapter.
Wrapping it up, Ms George adds: “We are also, as part of the inaugural event, holding our Maiden Quarterly Seminar Series which will feature national and global scholars as speakers. Our community which is increasing by the day, is pumped for take-off. I will tell you what, we will take time out to dance and enjoy ourselves for the commitment that we have shown. So come Friday, March 24, 2023 at the University of Port Harcourt or zoom: link:https://bit.ly/3L2ruDt pass code: 346142, we will be hosting a global audience to what we expect to be an exciting first page to many more years and occasions for the Nigeria Chapter of ICA”.