Getting to Know Christian N. Ihenacho, the Executive Director, and
His Mission to Mobilize Nigerian-Americans for Joe Biden
Christian N. Ihenacho,
the Executive Director and Founder of Nigerian Americans United Political Action Committee (NAUPAC), I would like to state categorically, as well as appeal to all Nigerians in the United States of America, that this organization was not established to adjudicate the problems with administration and governance of Nigeria, or the daily struggles the masses are subjected to in the country.
I conceived the idea of this organization to help mobilize the Nigerian Community across the United States to support Former Vice President, Joe Biden for President. I invited a few friends and family members to assist me in articulating and defining the mission. Following series of consultations and assessments, I was convinced of the path to take.
I decided on the path of an Independent Expenditure, Political Action Committee, as the preferred choice. I wanted to manage an organization that is not constituted in a traditional organization structure. This was a deliberate act to avoid the pitfalls of administrative struggles which, typically, tend to derail Nigerian national, cultural and social organizations from effectively achieving their set goals and objectives. In addition, I intended the organization to be a single-purpose one, designed to mobilize Nigerians to get out, register, and vote for a candidate running for federal office, who is best positioned to represent issues of interest to the Nigerian community.
I was motivated to embark on this mission because of my many years of community and political activities. I have lived in the State of California ever since I first arrived in the United States in the mid-70s. I have a Master’s degree in Urban Planning/Environmental Studies, worked professionally for many years as an Environmental Specialist. I am married, and father of five adult children. I am a devout Catholic, and have actively served in all the parishes that I worshiped at since I arrival into the United States. I have been an active community member and leader since the mid-80s when I moved with my family to Southern California from the San Francisco Bay Area. I actively led the then League of Patriotic Nigerians (LOPaN) through the Pro-Democracy Movement to restore democracy in Nigeria following the nullification of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election. In 2003, I returned to Nigeria, and ran for the Federal House of Representatives; again in 2007, as an Action Congress (AC) candidate for the same office; actively participated in establishing AC Party in Imo State; in 2008, I was awarded a contract by the Federal Ministry Environmental of Nigerian as an Independent Contractor to develop environmental regulatory policies and programs; served as National Technical Consultant for various World Bank and United Nations’ organizations sponsored national environmental policies and programs development. I was compelled to return to U.S. finally in the fall of 2017.
While working and living in Abuja, Nigeria, I remained active within AC as it transited to ACN, and now APC. I assisted in conducting series of primarily elections in a number of States; served as the Diaspora Coordinator to the APC Congress and Convention (2014 -2015); prepared a proposal which led to the provision of Diaspora Coordinator office in the Party’s Constitution Amendment of 2014.
I am a strong man of faith, actively political, and open minded. I was a registered Republican for many years following naturalization as a US citizen; changed to Independent, and now a Democrat. I became a Democrat because in totality, I identify more with the Democrats on matters I believe can enhance the health and well being of my family and the Nigerian Community in general, with regards to health care, education, equal justice, racial equality, civil rights, climate change, etc. I am concerned that there has never been a time in history since I arrived into the United States that there has ever been a situation like we are facing today in the country.
I have prepared this introduction in order to avoid any misunderstanding about why I embarked on this mission. I have lived in various communities in U.S. for decades, and as well experienced living in Nigeria. It is my firm belief that Nigerians cannot keep hoping that a savior will come from outside the community to solve our problems without us investing heavily in political activities to form alliances, build bridges, and convince legislators and governments, to have a seat at the table, where our voice can be heard. Doing this will require personal commitment; effective engagement; and investment of time, money and resource; and I believe that our community has all that it will take to do this. We have to do these ourselves before we can call on outsiders to come to our rescue.
As Nigerians, we have played loose with politics for too many years here in the United States, especially, as members of one of the most elite groups in this country. You can see it from the mass exodus or flight of people from various groups, once matters of politics are raised. It is the prerogative and right of anyone to associate with whomever they see fit. But one thing is clear, if we fail to play active role in politics; we cannot demand a seat at the table or get our voice heard in this country. As Nigerians, we have been playing ostrich, the time is now to get our heads out of the sand and claim our rightful position as a collective people of a nation. We contribute a lot to the U.S. Treasury, as well as contribute substantially to the over $22 billion Diaspora remittance to Nigeria annually, consistently, over the past many years to support the Nigerian economy through funding of our families, businesses and private projects. Therefore, the strength of our financial contribution to the Nigerian economy should enable us Nigerians in the Diaspora to flex our collective power to influence public policy-making in Nigeria.
A good number of Nigerians have expressed their concern about voting for Biden because of the role Obama played in electing Buhari in the 2015 Nigeria Presidential election. I ask that they forgive him, because the masses at the time in Nigeria, also believed that Buhari will perform better that Jonathan. Very many people today live with regrets for their respective role in that election. Much like today, many U.S. citizens, including Republicans, now regret voting for Trump, and now plan to vote for Biden.
Another group of Nigerians wondering whether to vote for Biden are those advocating for creation of Biafra. A case can be made that while we have a seat at the table, with Biden as President, he will be more capable of reasoning and rallying world leaders against the atrocities going on in Nigeria than Trump could, and has ever done. Besides, isn’t it a losing proposition to want to vote for Trump seeing how the odds are stacked against his re-election, even Republicans are abandoning him in droves? In addition, Biden has a history of fighting against tyrannical governments and injustice. He was instrument in effecting change in U.S. policy position on the South Africa Apartheid regime. I strongly recommend that anyone in doubt should watch the video of Secretary of State, Reagan at the 1986 Senate hearing on U.S. and South Africa relations, in which Biden strongly opposed U.S. policies, and made a case to impose sanctions which led to ending to the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
I therefore urge fellow Nigerians, whether Catholic, Evangelical or just Christian; Democrat or Republican; Biafran or anti-Buhari Government, we should put aside all differences, and look into our hearts and answer this question, will Trump or Biden, overall, be better for me and my family, and our cause as Nigerians and Blacks in the United States if one or the other wins this election?
As for me, my family, and all those joining this movement, we are voting for the Biden-Harris ticket, and we ask you to do the same.
Thanks for your time, and God bless.
Nigerian Americans United Political Action Committee.