As Americans go to the polls today, some candidates who have their origin in Nigeria are also among the candidates. They are:
1. Charles Ejike Onyejiaka: Americans in Franklin, New Jersey, will vote for CharlesEjike Onyejiaka , a fellow citizen and a transplant from Imo State, Nigeria, as the U.S. general election unfolds today. Onyejiaka, a democrat, is the incumbent in a two-way race for Ward 3 Councilman seat in Franklin. He was one of three men presented to Franklin Town Council as fill-in candidates for the unexpired term of Phil Kramer, former Ward 3 Councilman, who became Mayor of Franklin last January.
Mr. Onyejiaka beat Alex Kharazi and Azim Uddin, also democrats and immigrants, to succeed Kramer. Today, he is contesting against Beverly Briggs-Lawson, a Republican, in the general election. Onyejiaka is one of four Americans of Nigerian descent whose names are on ballots in grassroots elections at township and county levels this year.
Charles Onyejiaka has a degree in Electronics Engineering from Thomas Edison State University, he is also something of a veteran public servant with experience dating back to Nigeria’s Second Republic.
Born in Nkwerre, Mr. Onyejiaka grew up in a family of public servants whose record of civic engagement reached its zenith during Nigeria’s Second Republic when Sam Mbakwe was governor of Imo State. His uncle served as a commissioner while an aunt worked as special assistant in the governor’s office. Charles has followed the footsteps of his Nigerian family in his new country.
In 2015, he mobilized voter turn-out in numbers that proved good enough to give Democrats their first mayoral victory in Franklin Township. He is prominent member of the local Catholic community and has served on the Township Planning Board.
2. George Chidi: George Chidi is also a veteran and, the son of George Njoku Chidi, a native of Umuoye in Imo State. The younger George is running for a seat on the Board of Commissioners in DeKalb County, Georgia. His story reads almost like that of Barack Obama. His dad arrived Massachusetts in 1970 on a student visa, met his mum who is a Caucasian of Polish descent.
They got married and, unlike Obama’s dad, the older George stayed in the United States. George junior was an active duty soldier in the 25th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army for five years and, he has been a journalist and civic leader for twenty years.
Of the four Nigerian-Americans running for office, he seems to have the deepest connection to his constituents and the widest name recognition among Americans and Nigerian-Americans alike. He defeated eight other aspirants to become the Democratic nominee for this general election which he is strongly favored to win. He is very supportive of the Nigerian immigrant community, he is a known face at their social events and an active promoter of worthy causes, including the candidacy of Rasheed Bolaji (or ‘BJ’) Dawodu.
George Chidi has a bachelor degree in Journalism, MBA from Georgia Tech and was chief executive officer of a firm that markets competitive intelligence for corporate clients.
3. Rasheed ‘BJ’ Dawodu: Mr. Dawodu, a Democrat, is running against Republican Kristie King for the position of Tax Commissioner in Fayette County, Georgia. A small business owner and seasoned financial management professional, Dawodu relocated to the United States from his native Lagos (Isale Eko) more than 20 years ago. He worked extensively in the public sector before going into private practice, his bid for office of the Tax Commissioner is actively supported by Fayette Chamber of Commerce and his immigrant constituency.
Rasheed Dawodu has degrees in accounting, law, public finance and is a certified fraud examiner. He has worked for Fortune 500 firms including General Electric and Georgia Pacific.
4. April Ademiluyi: April Ademiluyi is the only female American of Nigerian descent contesting in the general election and she is contesting for a judicial not administrative position. She is a candidate for the Seventh Circuit Court in Prince George’s County, Maryland. April is a first generation American with roots in the Ademiluyi royal family in Ife.
Election into Circuit Courts is non-partisan, candidates participate in as many party primaries as they choose but they have to win at least one primary to get on the ballot. Ms. Ademiluyi won the Libertarian Party primary.
April Ademiluyi has a first degree was in Chemical Engineering, law degree from an Ivy League university and has been recognized by Congressional leaders for working with families facing foreclosure.