Great Ambassadors: Nigerians Who Won Elections In The Diaspora

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Ernest Ezeajughi, First Black Mayor of Brent, United Kingdom

It is common to come across Nigerians making waves in the Diaspora in the education, career and business sectors, but not so many of them make a name in politics. In this piece, Nkechi Isaac presents Nigerian-born persons who have achieved success in the political leadership of their adopted countries.

Ernest Ezeajughi made history when he won election as the first Black Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, United Kingdom. Ezeajughi was elected Mayor on April 16, 2019 by the College of Councillors on Brent, London and was sworn into office on May 1, 2019.

Prior to his election as Mayor, Ezeajughi, a strong member of the Labour Party, won election for a Councillor position representing Stonebridge ward at Brent Council in 2014. He was re-elected again in 2018, retaining his seat in the white-dominated political environment after a very keenly contested election. He was elected Deputy Mayor of Brent within a year.

Born in Awgbu Town, in Orumba North, Anambra State, Ezeajughi had his primary, secondary and tertiary education in Anambra. He attended Aguata High School, Aguata, and NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka, where he studied Applied Microbiology. Ezeajughi was actively involved in student union politics, representing the departmental student union body.

After graduation in 1998 and completion of his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he worked briefly in the private family business – KovalLinkworld Agencies Ltd – before migrating to England to join wife.

In England, Ezeajughi obtained a Master’s degree in Science (M.Sc) from the prestigious Kings College, London.

A scientist by profession, he worked with Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). A father of four children, Ezeajughi was one of the founding fathers of a major Nigerian political party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), UK Chapter and was the chairman in 2010-2012.

He thereafter joined UK politics and soon became a strong member of the Labour Party.

Collins Nweke, Municipal Legislator, Belgium

Collins Nweke is a Belgian politician of Nigerian origin, born on 14 July 1965 and of Igbuzo, Delta State Nigeria extraction. He is husband of Tonia Nweke, an educator trained at the College of Education, University of Benin & Delta State University; father of Tonna (Junior Accountant at a firm of accountants in Ostend Region of Belgium) and Chidi (Network Economics Student, University of Applied Sciences, Bruges).

A 2014 candidate Member European Parliament, Collins is a second term Municipal Legislator at Ostend City Council with portfolio covering the Economy, Social Policy, Equality Affairs and International Development.

Collins features regularly on TV Continental Lagos as Global Affairs Analyst and on TRT World Istanbul as African Affairs Analyst.

Chinyelu Susan Onwurah, First Black MP in Newcastle

Chinyelu SusanOnwurah is a British Labour Party politician. Prior to the recent election, she was elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament for Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Central, succeeding the previous Labour MP Jim Cousins, who decided to step down after 23 years.

She is the first black MP in Newcastle. She is the current Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, as well as Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport. She was appointed to both posts in September 2015.

Onwurah was born in Wallsend Newcastle, England, in 1965. She grew up on Hillsview Avenue in Kenton and went to Kenton School.

Onwurah has a first degree in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA from the Manchester Business School.

Her father is from Nigeria. He got married to her mother in the 50s when he was a student at the Newcastle Medical School.

When she was a baby, her father took them to live in Awka, Anambra State but when the Biafran war broke out she, her mother and siblings returned to Newcastle as refugees while their father remained in the Biafran Army.

Tony Iwobi, First Black Senator in Italy

Tony Iwobi, an Italian man of Nigerian origin, who is the chief immigration spokesman for the far-right League Party, has been elected as the first black senator in the country.

Iwobi, whose party has been accused of stirring up xenophobia in Italy, was elected in the industrial city of Brescia in northern Italy, a major immigration hub.

Born in Gusau, Zamfara State, but living in Italy since the 1970s, Iwobi has been a supporter of the League for more than two decades and used the campaign slogan #StopInvasion — a reference to the more than 690,000 migrants who have landed on Italian shores from North Africa since 2013.

Along with party leaderk Matteo Salvini, Iwobi has argued that illegal immigration into Italy has led to an increase in racism.

Iwobi, 62, was born in Nigeria and came to Italy on a student visa some 40 years ago, before going on to marry an Italian woman and start his own IT company here.

Before running for senator he represented the League as a municipal councillor in Spirano back in the 1990s, and more recently headed Salvini’sNational Committee on Immigration.

In that capacity, he helped write the League’s anti-migration platform, in which it proposed among other things to make it easier to deport migrants, to use economic incentives to get countries to agree to repatriate their nationals from Italy, to refuse to take in migrants rescued by NGOs from the Mediterranean, to renegotiate EU agreements that oblige Italy to house migrants that arrive here while their application to stay is processed, to threaten withdrawal of the right to seek asylum or benefits if migrants commit a crime or break the rules of the reception centre where they’re housed, and to stiffen existing requirements for the children of immigrants applying for citizenship to include a test on Italian “language, culture and traditions”.

Chuka Umunna, British MP

Chuck Umunna is popularly known as UK Obama. He is a British MP of Nigerian heritage. He was born in London to an Igbo Nigerian father and an Irish mother.

In 2010,Umunna was elected parliamentarian, representing Streatham constituency on the platform of the Labour Party. The Labour MP for Streatham was shadow business secretary 2011-15 and is a now a member of the home affairs select committee.

Umunna attended Hither Field Primary School in Streatham, South London, and Christ Church Primary School in Brixton Hill. He received an upper second class LLB in English and French Law from the University of Manchester. He later received MA at Nottingham Law School.

Before his political career, he wrote for Financial Times, Tribune, The Voice, The Guardian and the New Statesman, and later launched the online political magazine, The Multicultural Politic. He made frequent commentary on British televisions and radios.

Helen Grant, British MP

Helen Grant was born in London and grew up on the Raffles council estate in Carlisle. She has a law degree a from the University of Hull. Her father is a Nigerian and her mother is a British citizen.

She showed her sporting talent early in life and became captain of her school tennis and hockey teams, and representing the County in Hockey, Tennis, Athletics, and Cross-Country.

She later became under-16 Judo Champion in North of England and Southern Scotland.

Helen was first elected in 2010 to represent the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidstone & the Weald. In 2012 she was appointed Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice and for Women’s and Equalities issues in David Cameron’s first ministerial re-shuffle since the general election. In October 2013, she was promoted in the Prime Minister’s second reshuffle to the high profile role of Minister for Sport and Tourism. She stood down from this role after the General Election in May 2015.

Abimbola Afolami, British MP

AbimbolaAfolamiis a conservative politician in the parliament and a former Lawyer. Prior to his election, he worked as a senior executive at HSBC. He was a primary school governor, and a supporter of charities, which focus on helping people return to work. He is a former Treasurer of the Bow Group and was Vice President of the Oxford Union. He has previously worked for Howard Flight and for George Osborne.

Afolamiattended Bishopsgate prep school, Eton and Oxford, studying modern history and was vice president of the Oxford Union Society. He lives in Northampton and has previously contested the Lewisham Deptford seat in 2015, where he achieved 15 percent of the vote, gaining 7,056 votes in a Labour stronghold. He is described as an ‘astute public speaker’.

Kate Osamor, British MP

Kate Osamor is a graduate of the University of East London and Member of Parliament for Edmonton. She worked for the Big Issue, a magazine sold by homeless and long-term unemployed people. She later worked for 15 years in the National Health Service. In 2014 Kate was elected as a member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party and in 2015 as MP for Edmonton.

She was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. She has been particularly active in campaigns such as Women for Refugee Women’s, Set Her Free campaign to end the detention of women who seek asylum in the UK. Kate also argues for much fuller representation of Black and Ethnic Minority communities in political bodies, especially in Parliament.

Kelechi Madu, Canadian MP

Kelechi Madu, also known as Kaycee Madu, a Nigerian of Igbo extraction, made history in Canada as he emerged the first Nigerian immigrant to be elected as a member of parliament in the country in May this year.

The 45-year-old Nigerian who is a University of Lagos law graduate was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta representing the electoral district of Edmonton Southwest.

Madu, a Nigerian immigrant, graduated with a bachelor of law from the University of Lagos. He migrated to Canada in 2005 with his wife who enrolled in postgraduate studies at the University of Alberta.

He was sworn in as a lawmaker on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Climbing up the ladder in the Canadian politics, Madu, on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, took oath of office as Minister of Municipal Affairs in Alberta, Canada.

Madu is expected to be serving in a dual capacity as the Minister of Municipal Affairs of the Province of Alberta and at the same time a member of parliament representing his Edmonton South-West constituency.

The ministry is reportedly the third largest in Alberta.

Kemi Badenoch, London MP

Kemi has been a member of the London Assembly since September 2015. She is the GLA Conservative’s spokesman for the Economy and also sits on the Transport Committee and Policing and Crime Committee. Kemi was a director at the Spectator Magazine. She was also an associate director at Coutts & Co.

She won Saffron Walden with near 25000 majority votes.

She holds a degree in engineering from Sussex University and another degree in law from Birkbeck College. Her parents are Nigerians. Her maiden name is Kemi Adegoke. While growing up she lived in the United States of America and Nigeria. She is currently a board member for the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life and for nine years was a non-executive director for a London housing association.

Olugbenga Babatola, First Black Mayor of Greenwich

OlugbengaBabatola made history as the first elected African mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, South-East London in 2016.Babatola was inaugurated into office as the first African Mayor of Greenwich on May 25, 2016.

Babatola, 62, who has lived in the UK for decades, had previously served as a councillor in the Greenwich district – a position to which he was elected in 2014 for his inspirational leadership style.

In 2015, he became the first African to be elected as deputy Mayor and served alongside then Mayor, Norman Adam.

The mayor is elected by council members at an annual meeting and the position is held for a year. He or she is the first citizen of the Royal Borough and acts as an ambassador.

Source: Leadership Newspaper

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