Nigerian Named UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Families

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By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

A Nigerian, Kemi Badenoch, has been appointed as United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Familiesat the Department for Education. Olukemi Olufunto Badenoch (née Adegoke) was born in January 1980 in Wimbledon, London to parents of Nigerian origin.

She spent her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria and the United States before moving to the United Kingdom at the age of sixteen.

Badenoch studied Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Sussex, before she worked as a software engineer at Logica.

She equally went on to work at RBS as a systems analyst before working as an associate director at Coutts and later as a director at The Spectator magazine.

Badenoch joined the Conservative Party in 2005 at the age of 25, while in 2010 she contested the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency against Labour’s Tessa Jowell and came third behind Jowell, and Jonathan Mitchell of the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Two years later, Badenoch stood for the Conservatives in the London Assembly election where she was placed fifth on the London-wide list. The election saw the Conservatives win only three seats from the London-wide list, so Badenoch was not elected.

Three years later, in the 2015 general election, Victoria Borwick was elected to the House of Commons and subsequently resigned her seat on the London Assembly. The fourth placed candidate on the list, Suella Fernandes, had also been elected to the House of Commons and declined to fill the vacancy. Badenoch, following her marriage in 2012 was therefore declared to be the new Assembly Member.

She went on to retain her seat in the Assembly in the 2016 election. Badenoch supported Brexit in the 2016 European Union membership referendum.

She was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Saffron Walden constituency in the 2017 general election with 37,629 votes and a majority of a 24,966 (41.0%).

She had also made the shortlist to be the Conservative Party candidate in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. In her maiden speech on the 19 July, she described the vote for Brexit as “the greatest ever vote of confidence in the project of the United Kingdom” and cited her personal heroes as the Conservative politicians Winston Churchill, Airey Neave, and Margaret Thatcher.

In the same month, Badenoch was selected to join the 1922 Executive Committee, and in September, she was appointed to the parliamentary Justice Select Committee.

The following month, Badenoch was listed at Number 96 on Conservative political commentator Iain Dale’s “100 most influential on the Right 2017”.

She was appointed as the Conservative Party’s Vice Chair for Candidates in January 2018.

In July 2019, Badenoch was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In her new office as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, which takes effect from July 27, 2019, her responsibilities include: children’s social care including child protection, children in care, adoption, care leavers, social work, local authority performance and family law; Special educational needs including high needs funding, education policy in response to the race disparity audit safeguarding in schools disadvantaged pupils – including pupil premium and pupil premium plus; School sport, healthy pupils and school food, including free school meals; Early years policy including inspection, regulation and literacy and numeracy; Childcare policy, inspection and regulation
delivery of 30 hours free childcare offer; and social mobility including opportunity areas, DfE contribution to cross-government work to tackle rough sleeping.

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