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Rising Profile of Nigerian and African Immigrants in U.S Elections

Chido Nwangwu writes about the active participation of Diapora Nigerians in the United States politics which culminated in the recent mid-term election of eight Nigerian-Americans into  Parliament.

Gradually but successfully the movement towards the mainstream of American politics remains an interest of many diasporan communities here in the United States. This is evident in the younger generation, Nigerian Americans and recent immigrant Africans.

Consequently, the successful campaigns and victories of eight Nigerian-Americans in the November 8, 2022 mid-term elections in the United States have  attracted encouraging comments from Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari noted that “in Georgia State, Segun Adeyina, Gabe Okoye, Solomon Adesanya, Tish Naghise, and Phil Olaleye won their legislative seats as State Representatives in their Districts.

He also mentioned the fact that Carol Kazeem won the Pennsylvania State Representative in District 159, Esther Agbaje was re-elected as Minnesota State Representative in District 59B, while Dr. Oye Owolewa was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (Shadow Representative) in Washington D.C.

President Buhari has promised “his unflinching support for every Nigerian excelling at home and abroad” and “believes that compatriots who succeed in good causes are assets to the nation and the continent, noting that their contributions will always be remembered and celebrated.”

Okoye, licensed civil engineer, told USAfricaonline.com that “preparation, persistence and refusing to give up are the keys to the victory. Also, we attened schools/colleges here in the U.S and we pay taxes here, we have to stay involved.”

Adeyina, a community development activist, has a passion for public service.

Recall that these efforts gained significant momentum during the elections of Tuesday, November 3, 2020. when substantial number of eligible Americans went to the polls to vote for the presidential, congressional and local elections. The majesty of the American electoral system is that this has gone on every four years — since 1789, at the time of the founding of this country, the greatest country known to human civilization.

I also wrote at the time in a piece titled ‘Why I voted for America’ that this tradition has been sustained —no matter the weather conditions, no matter the state of the economy and no matter the political contentions of the day! It is not left to the whim, convenience or caprice of any American leader or the most competent president to pick and choose what day he prefers. No.

There are no exceptions not even for the self-styled “stable genius”, and irreverent divider-in-chief Donald J Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

I am among the 56 million who voted early, almost two weeks ahead.

I did. Yes, with a sense of civic responsibility and faith in the future and promise of a better day for these United States, I voted for America!

Part of the beauty of America is that it is a nation of laws.

In some of the developing countries of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic would’ve been a good excuse for any of popular or unpopular ruler to postpone national elections in order to entrench himself or herself.

Consequently thankfully, after all the partisan fulmination and divisive, diversionary tactics, the schedule and consistent majesty of the ballot box in America continued….

The presidential elections and congressional competition are important. They are important because what happens in Washington DC generally affects most of the world.    

For me and for millions of other recent immigrants, it was a choice of realistic, productive and equitable engagement with the President who will offer opportunities to all without regard to race, religion and pre-existing conditions.

In fact, one of the greatest Presidents of these United States, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), underscored it with these timeless words:  “Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.”

An overwhelming majority of the members of the African Diaspora community especially across the United States of America, share the same concerns and hopes for a competitive access to opportunities as opposed to handouts. I know because since 1993, I have been to all the major cities in the United States and have spoken to many community organizations. I interviewed hundreds of African professionals.

Their message and practical agenda are consistent, progressive and predominantly similar; some people will say fundamentally the same.

I count among the binary demographics of recent immigrants known as Nigerian Americans. It is the same set of immigrants famously ranked at the top by the research on Academic qualifications by the respected Rice University, located in Houston, Texas.

I voted for America! — the world’s most diverse, most creative and competitive market. Regardless of your adversity, ethnicity, race, religion, gender or orientation, it offers immigrants endless opportunities; almost.

Yes; almost.  Almost, because the existential realties of America’s “original sin” of slavery in the 17th century are seen, oppressively, in police brutality, financial red-lining and assorted but subtle institutionalization of racism.

Almost, because the coarse apostles of the swine gospel of White supremacy and the inheritors of the  fruits of the inhumane labor and brutal exploitation and bloody sacrifices made by the enslaved Africans in America, are still demanding all the advantages taken by their slave-owning families!

Beyond all of its material successes, America’s real strength rests on the prudent balance of the constitutional assignment of roles and the moral clarity to execute your obligations with a certain sense of fairness and decency. All, elements of character. 

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