Ezekiel Okpuzor, in this interview with Yomi Faparusi, examines the baseline towards Tennessee senatorial race on November 3. Excerpt
What are the landmark achievements you have made that qualified you to contest in the upcoming election?
I came to the United States as an immigrant, through hard work and America allowed me to achieve the American dream. I am running because I want more Americans to achieve the American dream, America has been good to me and I am running to serve and give back to America.
Today, three of the top issues America faces are Healthcare, Economy and Immigration, as an immigration attorney and a licensed physician with a background in public health, I believe I have a lot of practical and life experience that I can bring to the US Senate.
How do you hope to resolve the lingering immigration crisis that has specifically bedeviled Blacks in America?
We can no longer have this as a wedge issue for both major parties to leverage in every election cycle, these two critical questions must be answered: what do we do with undocumented immigrants already inside the US? and how do we stop illegal immigration? Promoting legal immigration has to be the foundation: secure our borders and have a working immigration system, what that means is that, if elected, I have to be that voice that is missing at immigration debates in Washington DC, I will work across the political aisle to resolve the immigration crisis.
How would you galvanise resources to aid state economic recovery?
States have to be encouraged to generate resources by creating a climate that allows small businesses to thrive, dependence on the federal government is not a sustainable model.
What do you hope to do differently in the area of entrepreneurship and youth empowerment?
I have always been very passionate about grooming the next generation because they are the future of any nation, I believe youth empowerment and entrepreneurship are best achieved with encouraging mentors to give up some time to mentor these youths. There is no reason why someone has to make the same mistake made by someone older who could give words of wisdom to the youth.
What are the driving forces behind your political ambition?
I came to the United States in 1997 on political asylum, influenced by patriotism, quest for democracy (“June 12”), agitation against Abacha and dedication to the common man.
What’s your strategy for winning the election?
Sell my message to all Tennesseans and give it my best.
What happens if you don’t win?
I will try again.
What are your plans for Nigerians over there?
I want a positive voice for all Nigerians- a Nigerian-American elected to the US Senate, I want to show that you can seek public office as an American of Nigerian or African descent and make a positive impact on the future of the United States and the world as a whole. I want to make being Nigerian-American, a thing of pride again.
How are you funding your campaign, bearing in mind that it requires a lot of funds?
Mostly through donations.
What advice do you have for other contestants?
Let us keep the campaign positive.