US Race Equality: 3 Nigerians to serve in Biden administration

By Oghenekevwe UCHECHUKWU

NOT fewer than three persons of Nigerian descent are expected to serve in the cabinet of US President-elect Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris who will be sworn in today as the 46th President and 49th Vice-President of the United States.

According to the Biden-Harris transition website, which has so far announced over 100 key administration posts, Nigerian-American Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo has been appointed to serve as an Associate White House Counsel, while Osaremen Okolo was appointed a member of the presidential COVID-19 response team and Adewale Adeyemo nominated as the Deputy Treasury Secretary.

While the appointments of Badejo and Okolo do not require any confirmation by Senate, Adeyemo’s nomination will need to pass through a process of hearing before confirmation by the Senate after a simple majority vote. If there is a tie, Harris who will make history as America’s first woman, first Black Vice President will serve as the tie-breaking vote since the vice president also serves as president of the Senate.

Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo

Badejo, before the announcement, was general counsel of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by House Majority Whip, James E. Clyburn, and has also as Counsel for Policy to the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Ethics Counsel at the White House Counsel’s Office, and Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Conference of the United States during the Obama-Biden administration.

Similarly, Adeyemo has held several management positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, including senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, as well as chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s provisions on macroeconomic policy. He also served as the first chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where he helped to hire the bureau’s initial executive leadership team and build an agency devoted to protecting U.S. consumers.

The 39-year-old Deputy Treasury Secretary nominee was also President Barack Obama‘s international economic adviser while serving as Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council from 2015-2017 and was “one of the stars of the Obama Administration,” according to his former colleague and then chief economic adviser to the President of the US, Jason Furman.

Adewale Adeyemo

Announcing her appointment, the transition team said, “Osaremen Okolo serves on the Biden-Harris Transition domestic policy team. Prior to joining the transition, Okolo served as Senior Health Policy Advisor to U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. Okolo drafted, negotiated, and managed the Congresswoman’s legislation, oversight, and policy across a comprehensive health care and public health agenda, most recently focusing almost exclusively on the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The transition team added: “Previously, Okolo served as Legislative Aide for Health Policy on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) for Ranking Member Patty Murray of Washington. A daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Okolo was born and raised in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College”.

Read Also: Biden turns to Nigerian – American Adewale Adeyemo, to build global economic co-operation

Many Nigerians have hailed the appointments and nomination, saying that it suggests that the incoming administration is committed to delivering on its promise to increase the representation of all leaders by race, gender, and ideology by assembling a diverse White House and Cabinet that truly represents America.



    Osaremen Okolo

    The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in his congratulatory message to Osaremen Okolo, who hails from Ewohimi in Esan South East Local Council of Edo State, said she is “among a long list of illustrious Edo sons and daughters boldly affirming the indomitable Edo spirit to the world”.

    “I congratulate Miss Osaremen Okolo on her appointment as the COVID-19 Policy Advisor to the President-elect, Joe Biden. The feat attests to your brilliance, dedication and resilience and her exceptional zeal to make remarkable change in society,” the governor said.

    Chairman/Chief Executive Officers of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said Adeyemo’s nomination did not come as a surprise going by the success he had attained in the various positions he held before now and wished him a smooth, hitch-free senate confirmation and unparalleled success in the job.

    In addition to increasing race representation, President-elect Biden whose inauguration will commence today at about 2:45 pm Nigerian time has appointed more women to the incoming Cabinet than his six predecessors.


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