8 November 2019
Nims Obunge is the senior pastor of Freedom’s Ark Church, in Bruce Grove, Tottenham, and well known among Nigerians and other black people in London, from his ministry and work with several faith organisations, government and voluntary agencies around curbing violent crime in the British capital.
He is running as an independent to be mayor of London against the incumbent Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party and others such as the Tory candidate Shaun Bailey, who is also black, and ex-foreign minister Rory Steward, who is also running as an independent.
Obunge said while launching his bid for City Hall: “We invite Londoners, to be part of this historic movement as we step up together to secure London’s prosperous future. Be part of a campaign that makes London safe, affordable, and electric.”
Obunge was born in Kensington, London in 1965, of Nigerian parents and his father, who is from Rivers State, was a career diplomat. This meant he spent his childhood in England, Sweden, Italy, Ireland and Nigeria. He attended the University of Jos, Nigeria before returning to the UK when he was 21.
He became a pastor at 23 and is also a member of the Knife and Violent Crime Prevention Group. He chaired the London Criminal Justice Partnership Advisory Board and the Metropolitan Police Operation Blunt response to knife crime. He was a member of the Home Office Stop and Search Community Group, the Criminal Justice Partnership and the Metropolitan Police Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel.
A former member of Obunge’s Freedom Ark told Naijiant.com that the church was the first one he saw credit card readers being used to collect offerings. Obunge is once again asking for donations, this time for his mayoral run. Visitors to his website are asked to “be part of the change” by parting with £10, £20, £30 or £50. He said on his Facebook page: “The future of London is too important to leave in the hands of the political parties alone and their internal policy fights. London deserves a Mayor who puts London first, before any party political allegiances.
“Rather than preaching to you about what I will do as Mayor, I am undertaking a series of big conversations to ensure that my final policies, to be announced in January 2020, reflect the priorities of the Londoners I want to serve as Mayor.”
Obunge said in an interview the Times: “I don’t really want to be in this space. I didn’t start 30 years ago to become a politician. But a lot of people have approached me from across the political divide, and family and friends, and they have consistently said, ‘We believe you can do a better job. You get our heartbeat. You understand what the issues are and you would fit into that role.’ I have consistently said no for four years, but at this point in time I will.”
The charismatic and articulate Obunge, with his penchant for sharp suits, is epitomises the diversity that London represents and believes “my experiences within London and my continued position as an advocate against violence in our streets and homes make me the ideal candidate to put Londoners’ priorities first.”
Will Londoners put him first before the more established candidates on 7 May next year? Very unlikely.