In 2019 Ernest N. Ezeajughi was elected Mayor of the London Borough of Brent, population 331,000. He was born in 1960 in Awgbu Town in southern Nigeria, Anambra State, the son of Sir Simeon Okeke Ezeajughi, an educator and prominent politician. After attendance at Aguata High School, Ezeajughi matriculated at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik) at its main campus in the city of Awka where he was active in student government and studied medical microbiology before graduating in 1998.
Upon completing a mandatory one-year term with the Nigerian National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) he worked in his family’s business, Koval Linkworld Agencies Ltd. Ezeajughi left for Brent, England, in 2004 to reunite with his wife. He acquired his Master of Science degree in environment health management at Kings College London, then was employed at several organizations, among them the Royal Mail, Public Health England and the Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA).
Still attracted to politics, he became a founding member of the British chapter of Nigeria’s All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party and was its chairman from 2010 to 2012. In May 2014, Ezeajughi, also a member of the Labour Party, won a seat on the Brent Council representing Stonebridge ward. Reelected in 2018, months later he was elected Deputy Mayor of Brent. He has indicated that his affinity for politics is owed to the influence of both his Nigerian father and South Africa’s legendary Nelson Mandela.
When Ezeajughi was voted Mayor for a two-term by his fellow councilors on April 16, 2019, on hand to see him sworn into office on May 1, 2020 were Nigerian dignitaries, most notably Ebere Obiano, wife of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. At his inauguration Ezeajughi noted that Brent was one of the most diverse boroughs of London with more than 100 languages spoken and nearly all of its residents speaking a language other than English at home. He singled out two charities he intended to support during his tenure: the Sickle Cell Society which partners with the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative project in Anambra State, Nigeria, and the Jason Roberts Foundation, an anti-knife and gun crime advocacy group.
Ezeajughi’s election as a mayor of African descent was at least the seventh such occurrence in the United Kingdom, the others being, in chronological order, Allan Minns in Thetford in 1904; John Richard Archer in Battersea in 1913; Marvin Rees in Bristol in 2016; Olugbenga Babatola in Greenwich in 2016; Sanchia Alasia in Barking and Dagenham in 2018; and Emmanuel Trailor in Becon in 2018. The father of four children, Ezeajughi continues to live in Wembley with his wife, Ijeoma.