In the midst of negative, and often depressing, stories about Nigerians from outside the country’s shores, it is heart-warming to get something positive from our people doing great things that lift the country’s rating, and help erase the deleterious beef that assuage our image. Lately, saddening tales of xenophobia in South Africa, police brutality and sundry attacks against Nigerians have become routine. It took high-powered intervention of the powers that be before, Zainab Aliyu, a Nigerian student who went for lesser in hajj in Saudi Arabia, was set free from an apparently trumped-up drug-related offence. President Muhammadu Buhari had instructed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to immediately intervene. Her freedom is a good omen for some Nigerians who have fallen on the wrong side of the law for non-existent offences on account of the notoriety of the nation.
It is, therefore, even greater and better news that, while there is a seeming legal strife about the nationality of a presidential candidate who has lived all his life in Nigeria and even rose to be two-term Vice President of the country, a Nigerian who only arrived in Britain in 2004 was yesterday installed as the Mayor of Brent. Honourable Ernest Nnaama Ezeajughi, who hails from Awgbu, in Orumba North Local Government Area, Anambra State, studied Applied Microbiology at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, from where he graduated in 1998. After his National Youth Service programme, he worked briefly in a family venture before going to the United Kingdom to do a postgraduate study at the prestigious Kings College, London, and also join his wife. He worked with Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a scientist. The son of a teacher, Ernest had always been inspired by the forays of his father who, after his retirement as inspector of schools, went into politics and became deputy chairman of Orumba North Local Government Area.
Ernest played student politics, and when he came to the UK, the desire to serve did not allow him look away from politics. More so in a place where his status as a citizen of a former British colony, who had valid papers to live in the UK, gave him the right to vote and stand for elections. He was active in forming the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the UK in order not to be alienated from the politics of his home state. But it was through the Labour Party in the UK that he sought to participate in British politics. By 2014 he had ingrained himself into the lives of the people of his county such that he got nominated for councillor by the party, contested and won. In 2018, in spite of the turbulent political terrain for the Labour Party, resulting in loss of many seats, Ezeajughi still had the popularity and staying power to re-contest and win. His schoolmate at UNIZIK, who now lives in London, too, Dr. Martinsixtus Ezejimofor, described Ernest Ezeajughi as kind-heated, focused and very supportive. Ezeajughi says he would continue his support to the Sickle Cell Society in Brent, and the anti-knife and gun crime charity in his tenure as mayor.
Nigerians are indeed carving a positive niche for themselves outside our shores, which is why it rankles that a few bad eggs seem to plaster the nation with mud, and the international press chose to place them on the front burner rather that celebrate the likes of Ezeajughi, a responsible Nigerian [No surprises if the British press describe him as a Briton as they did Anthony Joshua].
Married to Ifeoma, and blessed with four children, Ezeajughi is a good ambassador for Nigeria, which is why Governor Willy Obiano’s wife, Mrs. Ebere Obiano, and Ambassador George Oguntade, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Britain, were at the inauguration. His likes should also think home, and not use their leadership talents to feather the political nest of other nations. He might be scared of the political sharks in our clime, but sincerity of purpose will make a veritable combination with his avowed focus to swing victory to his side in the event of a decision to give Nigerian politics a shot, as I have advocated. The country could do with the political experience of compatriots who have had political exposure outside our shores, in order to elevate the nation from the crude and selfish politics pervading our clime as against service-oriented politics, which Ezeajughi has become acquainted with in the UK. Dr Martinsixtus Ezejimofor and other friends of the new mayor should make it a project to avert his mind to think home. His state and the nation could do with his experience, and the political orientation of service to the people.
We need a dose of infusion of that kind of politics as against one where lawmakers are quick to initiate bills to give themselves life pension for a tenured four-year stay in the House as seen recently in Bayelsa State, where Governor Seriake Dickson stoutly declined accent to the bill. The lawmakers may use their power to pass the bill if they insist. Ezeajughi would certainly not be found in the company of such lawmakers on account of the British political orientation.
Here is to congratulate the new mayor of Brent, and the Nigerian community in that area. The hope is that he would bring his well-known focus to his office, and thus help buoy Nigeria’s image.