Two Nigerians have won legislative seats in Tuesday’s U.S. general election. Mr. Oye Owolewa cruised into victory on Tuesday night to become the first Nigerian-American to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Also, Ms Esther Agbaje, has been elected into the Minnesota House of Representatives. The 30-year-old Owolewa is heading to the U.S. Senate to represent the District of Columbia (DC) as a shadow congressman under the Democratic Party. Owolewa garnered a whopping 164,026 votes, representing 82.84 per cent of the total votes cast. Voters in DC elect two shadow senators, who are not officially sworn or seated by the U.S. Senate.
These non-voting delegates can vote in committees, speak on the floor of the chamber and sponsor legislation, but cannot vote at plenary. “Looks like WE DID IT!!! I want to thank everyone, from family and close friends to DC residents,” Omolewa said on Instagram.
“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 a day for some celebration, the hard work also follows. Again, thanks so much for everything. I wouldn’t be here without you all,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agbaje has been elected into the Minnesota House of Representatives in Tuesday’s U.S. general election. She will represent District 59B in the 134-member House on the platform of the Democratic-Farmer– Labor Party (DFL), an affiliate of U.S. Democratic Party. Esther, 35, won by a landslide, polling 17,396 votes or 74.7 per cent of the total ballots cast. Her closest rival, Alan Shilepsky of the Republican Party, secured 4,128 votes, representing 17.7 per cent of the total.
Elections to the lower chamber of the state legislature hold every two years, and there are no term limits for the lawmakers. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Agbaje was born in St. Paul, the state capital of Minnesota. Her father, Rev. John, an Episcopal Church priest, met her mother, Bunmi, a librarian, at the University of Minnesota where they were studying.
She graduated from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., with a degree in political science. Esther holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and also a law degree from Harvard University. She currently works as an attorney in Minneapolis with focus on general civil litigation and medical malpractice. She once served at the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Affairs Officer, charged with managing rule of law projects in the Middle East.
Her priorities as a lawmaker include affordable housing, environmental justice, police reform, public safety and racial equality. Nine Nigerian Americans were on the ballot in Tuesday’s general election in the United States. Running mostly on the platform of the Democratic Party, the candidates contested for different offices at the federal, state and local levels.