Stars in the firmament

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 A million stars come out when night falls. But not all of them are seen. However, a few of them light up the firmament and they are seen by all. This is the case with three Nigerian – Americans who contested in the just concluded United States of America elections. They were part of the nine Nigerians on the ballot in the Tuesday, November 3 general elections.

Oye Owolewa, a pharmacist led the pack as he polled 164,026 votes to defeat incumbent Joyce Robinson-Paul, who scored 18,600 votes, and Sohaer Syed with 15,372 votes.

 Owolewa, who has roots in Kwara, and Oyo states, holds a PhD in Pharmacy from the North eastern University, Boston.

In 2018, he was elected commissioner of his neighbourhood in South East DC.

As an advocate for DC statehood, he launched TaxFreeDC as a movement to combat DC’s taxation without representation.

According to his website, TaxFreeDC declares that until DC statehood is achieved, DC’s tax revenue shall no longer go to the federal government.

“Oye believes our money belongs here for DC priorities instead of going to a government that fails to recognise us,” it said.

He became the first Nigerian-American to occupy the seat.

As the results trickled on Wednesday morning, Owolewa shared the news of his victory on his social media handles. He did not take it for granted as he acknowledged them.

“Good morning. Looks like we did it! I want to thank everyone, from family and close friends to DC residents.

“Because of your contributions and sacrifices, I stand before you as America’s first Nigerian-American congressman.

“In this role, I am going to fight for DC statehood and bring our values to the law-making process. While today is the day for some celebration, the hard work also follows.

“Again, thanks so much for everything. I wouldn’t be here without yall,” he said.

Ms Esther Agbaje, who contested to represent District 59B in the Minnesota House of Representatives on the platform of the Democratic Party, won with 17,396 votes.

The 35-year-old Harvard law graduate defeated Republican Alan Shilepsky and Green Party candidate Lisa Neal-Delgado to represent downtown and north Minneapolis in the state House.

Born to Nigerian parents – an Episcopal priest and a librarian – Ms Agbaje became the first Nigerian-American to be elected to the Minnesota legislature.

With a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, she had a stint in the U.S. State Department, experience working with city government, and accolades at a prestigious law firm, her profile read.

In August, Ms Agbaje was one of four newcomers who defeated established Democratic legislators in the primary – two in the state House and two in the Senate.

She is interested in prison reform, fighting racial discrepancies, housing among others.

She took to Twitter to announce her victory on Wednesday.

 “I’m honored to have earned the support and trust of my neighbours to serve as their representative for #MN #HD59B. From North #MPLS to North Loop, Elliot Park to Bryn Mawr, I will work hard every day to represent this entire district with empathy, compassion and pride. #ThankYou”.

Lastly, Nnamdi Chukwuocha won re-election as a member of Delaware House of Representatives from District 1.

As a Democrat without an opponent, he won 100 per cent of the votes with 7,640.

Chukwuocha was elected to represent District 1 in the Delaware House of Representatives in 2018.

With a Bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in social work from Delaware State University, he has several years of experience in local politics in the state.

He once served on the Wilmington City Council as President Pro Tempore and Chair of the Education, Youth and Families Committee.

In 2019, he was a member of the Corrections Committee, the Education Committee, the Health & Human Development Committee, the Veterans Affairs Committee as a US Army veteran and Vice-Chair of the Transportation/Land Use and Infrastructure Committee.

He is part of the spoken word duo, “Twin Poets” which was appointed as the State of Delaware 17th Poets Laureate.

Others who also ran in the elections include: Yomi Faparusi, an Ibadan-born native of Ode-Ekiti, Ekiti State.  Faparusi vied as an independent candidate to represent the state of Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.

Faparusi holds a doctorate in Medicine from the University of Ibadan, a Ph.D. in Health from Johns Hopkins University, and Juris Doctorate from the Widener University School of Law, Delaware.

This was not his first shot at the U.S. Congress. In 2014 and 2016, he vied for the Republican Party’s ticket to the House of Representatives, but lost on both occasions.

Faparusi’s priorities include being a positive voice for all Nigerians in the U.S. Senate, and inspiring Americans of African or Nigerian descent to seek public office in the country.

In Missouri, a Republican-controlled state, Yinka Faleti from Lagos was the Democratic Party flagbearer in the election for the office of Secretary of State.

According to Wikipedia, Faleti was in the U.S. Army as an active-duty officer from 1998 to 2004. He served in Kuwait, first under Operation Desert Spring and later as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 44-year-old father of four holds a bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy, West Point, and a Juris Doctorate from the Washington University School of Law.

His goals as a Secretary of State include protection of the “right to vote for Missouri families”, and ensuring elected officials hear the people’s voice.

Also at the state level, Paul Akinjo from Ondo ran for election to the California State Assembly under the Democratic Party to represent District 12.

Akinjo once served as Vice Mayor of Lathrop, California, and in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1982 to 1989. His priorities include housing, immigration, and transportation.

In Delaware, a small Mid-Atlantic U.S. state, Adewunmi Kuforiji aspired to represent District 34 in the state House of Representatives.

Kuforiji, originally from Ibadan, Oyo, secured the Democratic Party’s ticket on September 15 after defeating his challenger, Robert Haynes, at the primary. He holds a bachelor’s in accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Delaware State University.

In the 2018 mid-term elections, he vied for the same position but lost to the incumbent, Lyndon Yearick, of the Republican Party, whom he faced on Tuesday.

On the ballot at the local government level were April Ademiluyi, Ngozi Akubuike and Benjamin Osemenam.

Ademiluyi, 39, contested on the Democratic Party’s ticket for Judge of the Seventh Circuit Court in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

For her part, Ms Akubuike, a legal practitioner, and an independent candidate for judge of the Minnesota 2nd District Court Position 8. Akubuike studied law in Nigeria, then worked in the banking sector before moving to the U.S. where she graduated from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

She has served in several capacities, including legal manager for the state of Minnesota.

 Osemenam, who moved to the U.S. in 1982, contested for a seat in the Brooklyn Park City Council of Minnesota to represent East District.

An engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, he is vying on the platform of National Party.

He is a former president of the Association of Nigerian Engineers in Minnesota.

Johnson Ayantunji

Johnson Ayantunji

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