Nigerians in US Elections 2020: How they Fared
By Olayemi Esan No fewer than ten Nigerians in the United States were on the...

By Olayemi Esan

No fewer than ten Nigerians in the United States were on the ballot in Tuesday’s general elections. Out of this number, three have been announced as winners so far. 

Running mostly on the platform of the Democratic Party, the candidates are bidding for different offices at the federal, state and local levels.

Besides the presidential election, governorship polls are holding in 11 states and two territories, in addition to other state and local elections.

Congressional elections are also holding on Tuesday with all the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate up for grabs.

Here is how the Nigerians performed:

Oye Owolewa

A Nigerian-born Democrat, Oye Owolewa, has been elected as a shadow United States Representative out of the District of Columbia.

The 30-year-old becomes the first Nigerian congressman in the country’s history.

Oye ganered 82.65% of the votes, which represents 135,234 votes against Joyce Robinson-Paul, who had 15,541 votes, and Sohaer Syed with 12,846 votes.

This was disclosed by ABC 7 News via its Twitter handle early on Wednesday morning.

It tweeted, “Democrat Oye Owolewa will be elected as a shadow U.S. Representative out of the District of Columbia.”

Oye Owolewa, whose father is from Kwara State and mother is from Oyo, is aiming for a ‘shadow’ (non-voting) seat in the House of Representatives.

Owolewa, a PhD holder in Pharmacy from the Northeastern University, Boston, is seeking to represent the District of Columbia under the Democratic Party.

Esther Agbaje

In similar vein, Esther Agbaje, who contested to represent District 59B in the Minnesota House of Representatives on the platform of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, an affiliate of the US Democratic Party, has won.

The 35-year-old daughter of an Episcopal priest and a librarian, both Nigerian immigrants, easily defeated Republican Alan Shilepsky and Green Party candidate Lisa Neal-Delgado to represent downtown and north Minneapolis in the state House.

At 35 years old, Agbaje has a law degree from Harvard, a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a stint in the U.S. State Department, experience working with city government, and accolades at a prestigious law firm.

In many ways, her resume seems tailor-made for a run for public office and the DFL newcomer has taken to her Twitter handle to announce her victory.

Nnamdi Chukwuocha

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.

Mr 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.

April Ademiluyi

For the position of Circuit Judge Court District 7 Prince George’s County, Gladys Weatherspoon is leading at 25% of vote recorded with 434,670 votes representing 19.3% of votes counted while Nigerian-born April Ademiluyi has garnered 297,028 votes which is 13.2%

Ademiluyi, 39, is running on the Democratic Party’s ticket.

Ademiluyi is a Prince George’s County native and has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park. She began her career as an Engineer for the U.S. Coast Guard. She is licensed in Maryland State Courts and the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Yinka Faleti

Compatriot Yinka Faleti ran under the Democratic Party for Missouri Secretary of State. He lost in the general election on November 3, 2020.

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 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.

The outcome of the election showed that Missouri Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft of the Republican party was re-elected but Faleti said he would “continue to fight” for the development of Missouri.

He said this in a series of tweets announcing the outcome of the election that “While the results of this election did not go the way we wanted, I am grateful for the support of so many who brought us this far.

“With your help and support, we have brought attention to the fight to have every vote counted.

“We have shone light on dark efforts to suppress voter turnout, disenfranchise communities and rob Missourians of their ability to decide their own future on their own terms. But our work is not yet over.

“Civic engagement does not end after an election. Voting is only the beginning. Those who we elect are supposed to serve the people; and, in turn, the people are meant to hold their elected officials accountable. I ask you to do that.

“As I have said since the beginning of our campaign, democracy demands participation. Our democracy is strong only if we the people exercise our power to hold our elected leaders to account.

“The future is bright for Missouri—if we make it so. I will continue that fight. My ask of you is to do the same.

Adewunmi Kuforiji

On his part, Adewunmi Kuforiji (Democratic Party) (also known as Ade) ran for election to the Delaware House of Representatives to represent District 34. He was on the ballot in the general election on November 3, 2020.

After 100% Reporting, incumbent candidate Lyndon Yearick of the Republican had 7,349 votes representing 57.3% of the votes while Kuforiji garnered 5,470 representing 42.7%.

Ngozi Akubuike

On her part, Ngozi Akubuike ran for election for judge of the Minnesota 2nd District Court Position 8. Akubuike was on the ballot in the general election on November 3, 2020 but lost to incumbent Ramsey County Judge Patrick Diamond.

Akubuike was also born in Nigeria but her journey was very different. She practiced law in her home country but came to the U.S. through the diversity visa lottery. Within three months of arriving she found herself homeless with her several-weeks-old baby in her arms.

“The journey was not an easy one for me, but I made a promise to that baby,” she says. “In fact, homelessness will not be our final destination. And so, I went back to law school.”

After a career as a prosecutor and coordinator and legal manager for the Americans with Disabilities Act in Minnesota, Akubuike says she wants to bring her life experience to the judicial bench.

“I chose to go back to school to learn the system, to continue in my career and be able to serve others,” she says. “And one thing I tell people is no experience is wasted. I let people know there is always a reason for someone to go through that experience. And I believe that I went through those experiences in order to teach me.”

Akubuike said her life experience has shown her that people have unequal access to justice. Having seen things from a position of being underprivileged, Akubuike says she believes she can bring that empathy to the bench.

“We need people with diverse backgrounds, people who have experienced true life, people who have experienced adversity,” she said. “We need every one of every background on the bench so that you can connect with the people that we serve.”

For her part, Akubuike, a legal practitioner, is 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 US where she graduated from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She has served in several capacities including Legal Manager for the state of Minnesota.

Benjamin Osemenam

Benjamin Osemenam, an engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, is contesting for a seat in the Brooklyn Park City Council of Minnesota to represent the East District.

Osemenam, who moved to the US in 1982, is vying on the platform of the National Party.

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

The final result stated that Lisa Jacobson, the incumbent, won with 7,547 Votes as Osemenam got 5,003 Votes.

Yomi Faparusi

Finally, the last Nigerian candidate, Yomi Faparusi, ran as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee. He had 10,632 votes representing 0.4% of votes and lost to Bill Hagerty 62.3% with 1,832,963 votes

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