Nigerians Who’ve Been Elected into UK Parliament
Nigeria has a complex history with the United Kingdom(UK). The relationship which dates back to the colonial era has evolved significantly, with Nigeria boasting one of the largest diasporas in the UK. While the relationship has suffered some glitches in time past, it has also been strengthened by the election of several Nigerians into the UK parliament.
These Nigerians, who hail from diverse backgrounds and political affiliations, are making waves in British politics and representing the Nigerian community at the highest levels of government. In this piece, we will briefly examine the inspiring stories of Nigerians who have been elected into the UK parliament.
Chuka Umunna (2010-2015)
Umunna was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Streatham with a 3,259 majority vote in 2010. His election was followed by his appointment to the position of Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise until his promotion to the Shadow Cabinet in May 2011.
Following his appointment, Umunna was promoted as Shadow Business Secretary on October 2011 and occupied the position till 2015. Umunna argues that greater devolution of the UK Labour Party into individual Labour Parties and greater political autonomy for England in particular, is necessary to advance the Labour Party.
Ummuna resigned from the Shadow cabinet in 2015 and returned to the backbenches, citing differences over the Brexit referendum and issues of collective ministerial responsibility. He was born to an Igboman, who died in a road accident in Nigeria in 1992.
Kate Osamor (2015-2018)
Osamor has served as a member of the UK parliament for Edmonton since 2015. She won the 2015 General election with 25,388 votes. In 2016, Osamor was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. She is credited for advocating for an increase in aid funding for women’s groups. Osamor also argues that international aid should be targeted towards schemes aimed at reducing inequality and poverty.
Her stay as a member of parliament was short-lived when she used parliamentary stationery to plead for leniency for her son, Ishmael. Ishmael Osamor, who served as a Councillor and Cabinet Member on Haringey Council was charged with drug-related offences.
Fiona Onasanya (2017-2019)
Fiona Onasanya was elected as a member of the UK parliament to represent Peterborough during the 2017 general elections. Onasanya was removed from the parliament when she was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Reports say she lied to the police to avoid being prosecuted for speeding. Onasanya was expelled from Labour Party and sentenced to three months in prison.
Chinyelu Susan Onwurah (2010 till date)
Onwurah was elected as a Member of the UK Parliament for Newcastle (Tyne Central) in 2010 with a majority of 7,466 votes. Upon her appointment, she served as shadow minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation until April 2020, when she was appointed as shadow minister for Science, Research & Digital by Keir Starmer.
Before joining the UK parliament, Onwurah served as the head of Telecoms Technology at Ofcom, with a focus on broadband provision and was active in the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Onwura and her parents briefly returned to Awka, Nigeria in 1965. The Biafran war, however, forced her mother to take her back to Tyneside, while her father joined the Biafran army.
Onruwah who retained her seat at the 2017 and 2019 general elections occupies the second safest Labour seat in the North East.
Helen Grant (2010 till date)
Representing Maidstone and The Weald in the UK parliament since 2010, Grant is the first black woman of mixed heritage to be elected as a Conservative MP and selected as a candidate to stand for a Conservative-held parliamentary seat.
She has occupied some government positions since 2012 including Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (2012–2015) and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (2012–2013), Minister for Sport and Tourism in 2013 and Special Envoy of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Girls’ Education. Her husband, Simon Juliana Grant travelled to Ukraine to fight following Russia’s invasion.
Kemi Badenoch (2015 till date)
After serving as a Conservative Member of the London Assembly, Kemi was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Saffron Walden in Essex. She serves as Secretary of State for Business and Trade, and President of the Board of Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities since 2022.
Kemi spent her childhood days in Lagos Nigeria before relocating to the UK. She launched a bid to succeed UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson following his resignation in July 2022. She was however eliminated in the fourth round of voting, as she received the fewest votes of the remaining candidates.
Bim Afolami (2017 till date)
Abimbola Afolami has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hitchin and Harpenden since the 2017 general election. His father, a Nigerian consultant doctor in the NHS, relocated to the UK in his early twenties. Bim contested in the 2015 general election and came second place with 7,056 votes. He was named one of the Franco-British Council’s Young Leaders in 2018.
He sits as Chair of PRASEG, the cross-party Parliamentary Renewable & Sustainable Energy Group, the largest and longest-standing energy and climate change group in Westminster.
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