NIGERIAN-Americans have enjoyed unprecedented success in the ongoing US general elections with three of the nine candidates who stood in the polls having been declared winners of their congressional races.
Yesterday, Oye Owolewa was elected as a shadow member of the House of Representatives from the District of Columbia and Esther Agbaje was voted in as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. They have now been joined by Nnamdi Chukwuocha, who won re-election as a member of Delaware House of Representatives from District 1.
All three of them were Democrats and are due to take office in January when the new legislative calendar begins. A total of nine Nigerians were standing as candidates in this election at both the state and federal levels and although counting is still ongoing, three of them have been declared winners.
Ms 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. Born to Nigerian parents who are an Episcopal priest and a librarian, Ms Agbaje became the first Nigerian-American to be elected to the Minnesota legislature.
In August, Ms Agbaje was one of four newcomers who defeated established Democratic legislators in the party’s primaries. She is interested in prison reform, fighting racial discrepancies, housing among others.
Oye Owolewa, for his part polled 164,026 votes to defeat incumbent Joyce Robinson-Paul, who scored 18,600 votes, and Sohaer Syed with 15,372 votes. Mr Owolewa, who has roots in Kwara and Oyo states, holds a PhD in Pharmacy from the Northeastern University, Boston.
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, its tax revenue shall no longer go to the federal government.
Mr Owolewa said: “Because of your contributions and sacrifices, I stand before you as America’s first Nigerian-American congressman. In this role, I’m going to fight for DC statehood and bring our values to the lawmaking 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 you all.”
Mr Chukwuocha, who won re-election as a member of Delaware House of Representatives from District 1, stood as a Democrat without an opponent, wining 100% of the vote with 7,640 ballots. 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.
Among other things, 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.