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Why I’m seeking Lowell’s council seat: Ben Opara

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Why I’m seeking Lowell’s council seat: Ben Opara campaigns in Massachussetts

USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu  interviewed Benjamin Tyndale Opara, an aspirant in 2009 for a seat in the Lowell City Council in Massachussetts. Here are excerpts:

Tell us about Lowell?

Lowell is the northernmost city in the state of Massachusetts. To its immediate border to the north is the state of New Hampshire. It is governed by a slate of nine councilors amongst whom there is a mayor. It is for one of those seats that I am vying.


What will set you apart from your opponents?
I bring a wealth of knowledge and life experience to the table. Our city is a unique city that has seen a lot of challenges and setbacks in recent times. Our council has been plagued by infighting and discord. In such atmosphere, not a lot get done. In several boards that I’ve had the opportunity to serve on, my colleagues have termed me Mr. Congeniality.

I have a knack for working with people, despite differences, to get things accomplished. Results, results and nothing but results-oriented. Further, besides being the only person of African descent in the race, I will be an excellent representative of all blue-collar workers, irrespective of their ethnicity, gender or immigration generation. I have made it a point that while recognizing who I am, I run no race of color, as we know that term. I know no color outside of green for the environment and blue for blue-collar workers. With almost twenty years of running two businesses in the city, I know first-hand, what challenges small businesses routinely face; make payroll, balance budgets, personnel and human resource issues and still deal with governmental bureaucracy.

What are your key items for leadership for your district?
I have served in various boards in and around the city and the region. I have served in different capacities in these boards including chairman. I was a two-term vestry member in the oldest and most elite church in the city and ended up the canonical head of same church, as its warden.

I was able to guide that parish through what has been described as the toughest time in the life of that parish. That church is presently seen as one of the healthiest in the community and the diocese. I helped found and still sit on the board of the African Cultural Association (ACA) which has organized a world-class African Festival each year for nine years. All cylinders are already firing for next years’ tenth anniversary. Cities and towns around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond have been coming to us to emulate what we have succeeded in doing here. That is the Lowell pride!


Share with USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine readers a brief bio-profile of you….

I was born at the Owerri General Hospital in southeastern Nigeria to Moses and Agnes Opara of Irete, Imo State, I attended Saint Augustine’s Grammar School, a parochial high school built and ran by the Anglican Church. Upon graduation in 1977, I worked briefly with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing before proceeding to the University of Nigeria. In 1985, I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering. I completed a year-long national service under the National Youth Service Corps program before immigrating to the United States.

I worked at American Engineering and Testing in Braintree, MA before moving to Lowell to attend U-Mass Lowell in 1990. Upon completion in 1992, reluctant to move away from Lowell, I started Princeton Ritz Industries. We manufacture a complete array of personal-care products which sell across the country and the globe.

In 1993 I married my lovely wife Valerie (nee Langley) and moved to Dracut. We have been blessed with three lovely children; Ukachukwu 15, Adarema 12 and Chikere 9. Our children have attended and are still attending public schools in Lowell.

In 1998, with a desire to fulfill an entrepreneurial dream and to further contribute to the local economy, we started M & E Beauty Supply on Bridge Street. We run both businesses till date.

I currently live in Pawtucketville section of Lowell, MA.

How is the African community especially supporting you?
The African community has been incredible. The Nigerian Association of Merrimack Valley (NAMV) which I helped form ten years ago is fifty-something-family strong. Our members and the entire African community have been nothing but stellar. Simply incredible! To be able to raise close to eight thousand dollars on the first fundraiser by a first-time candidate, filling the banquet hall to capacity was energizing. What has been  even more gratifying is the support my campaign has received from outside the African and African-American communities. 

Were you inspired by Obama’s election to run?
As much as I would like to say that I was inspired by Obama, the thought of running for an elected office has always been there. His race did a lot though, to buttress what I have suspected in the past; that people are indeed more open-minded than they are given credit for.


What are your thoughts on regularizing the immigration status of persons who have been here and paying taxes and raising their families across your constituency and the U.S?
At the local level of politics that I am involved, I have little or no say on such issues as immigration and regularization of peoples’ status. Now, having said that, I believe that every legal immigrant deserves the right to the better future that this country promises its citizens, so long as they work hard and play by the rules.


Where do you see Nigeria heading, and your assessment of the leadership since 1960?
I have been out of Nigeria for a while, though I visit occasionally. Now, am I qualified to assess their leadership? Answers will be subjective. I will, albeit, take a bite at it.

Nigeria is a frustrating case, in the sense that one wonders if the leaders have any resolve to truly serve the country. There are two things primarily; do they have the resolve and do they have the talent, the intellectual ability to bring forth meaningful changes? I will score them very low in both.

(Published on USAfricaonline.com on Thursday October 8, 2009)

——

President Obama, hate-mongers and mob cons. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, www.Achebebooks.com, CLASS magazine, The Black Business Journal,  USAfrica.TV, and the largest digital images/pictorial events domain for Africans  abroad www.PhotoWorks.TV

http://usafricaonline.com/president-obama-hate-mongers-and-mob-cons-by-chido-nwangwu/

http://usafricaonline.com/chido.obamavshatemongers09.html

Follow Chido at FaceBook.com/usafrica
and at Twitter.com/chido247

—–

USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York
Times as the  most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia
networks) established May 1992, our first edition of USAfrica magazine
was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994;
CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; www.PhotoWorks.TV in 2005
——

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Emeka Opara

    February 21, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I wish u d best cos i knw u would make it in future. Bye

  2. UCHE ONWUZURUIKE

    October 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

    He scored our leaders very low, but I would like to ask if he can explain more be more precise by mentioning names, areas or sectors. There is no need to making general comments whereby a few outstanding people back home have been leading by examples. Hope to have an opportunity to have a discussion with Benjamin Tyndale Opara during our 2009 convention. Chido, good job!

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World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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BUSINESS

USAfrica: Nigeria’s embattled President Buhari returns to London

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Nigeria’s embattled President Buhari returns to London

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com  • @Chido247

In a few hours, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to Britain from Abuja on Monday April 9, 2017. According to a news release Sunday evening by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, Buhari who has been facing severe criticism on his performance since May 2015 will “hold discussions on Nigeria – British relations with Prime Minister Theresa May, prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings scheduled for April 18 to 20.”

Since Buhari became civilian President, his first trip to Britain for medical treatment, according to USAfrica News Index, took place from January to March, 2017. Soon, following the clear evidence of the challenges he had regarding his health, he made his longest and most talked about trip when he left Nigeria back to London on May 7, 2017 and returned to an apprehensive nation on August 19, 2017. He is 77 years old
The likely issue of his meeting with his doctors concerning his yet, officially, undisclosed health challenges was not mentioned by his spokesperson.

On another business matter, the former army General will meet the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Plc, Mr. Ben van Beurden regarding “Shell and other partners’ plan to invest $15 billion in Nigeria’s oil industry. These investment ventures will lay the foundation for the next 20 years production and domestic gas supply, bringing with it all the attendant benefits both to the economy and the wider society.”

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BrkNEWS: U.S government, technically, shuts down as 4 Republican Senators vote against Trump

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Washington DC (AP) — The U.S federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction.

Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were already moving toward a next step, trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.

Since the shutdown began at the start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans. But any damage could build quickly if the closure is prolonged. And it comes with no shortage of embarrassment for the president and political risk for both parties, as they wager that voters will punish the other at the ballot box in November.

Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney wasn’t optimistic Friday evening about the chances of Democrats and Republicans reaching a deal on a spending bill before midnight. Still, he said there’s a “good chance” they find a solution by Monday.

After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan. It gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. A handful of red-state Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure, rather than take a politically risky vote. Four Republicans voted in opposition.

In an unusual move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the roll call to exceed 90 minutes — instead of the usual 20 or so — and run past midnight, seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers. Still as midnight passed and the calendar turned, there was no obvious off-ramp to the political stalemate.

Even before the vote, Trump was pessimistic, tweeting that Democrats actually wanted the shutdown “to help diminish the success” of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later termed the Democrats “obstructionist losers.”

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