With the traditional words “I swear to uphold the obligations of my office” which he has become familiar with over the past 13 years, Collins Nweke, a Nigerian-born Belgian politician swore an Oath of Office for a third term on Tuesday 2 January 2019 at the Ostend City Council Belgium. Having made history as the first non-Belgian-born person to occupy a political elective office in his West Flanders Constituency, Nweke who is to serve a six-year term has responsibility in the City Council for Social Affairs.
Speaking immediately after taking Oath of Office, the mildly elated Councillor described his current office as “a tool for social justice” adding that “across the world there is a growing trend of fighting the poor when the real enemy to fight is poverty and the causes of poverty. I am most pleased to join the Government of new Mayor, Bart Tommelein, who shares the vision of prioritizing the fight against poverty in our municipality”.
Nweke wasted no time in allowing a peep into his cards when he declared that “in the end, let me be thought of as that ordinary mortal, who with passion and empathy, would not leave any stone unturned in ensuring that generational poverty is frontally tackled. In this context, child poverty will be a major focus for me in the coming 6 years. Each child within my constituency must have equal starting chance in life irrespective of how deep or shallow the parents’ pockets are. That you are born into a family with little or no means must not be a determinant factor of your success or failure in life”.
“As Council, we have a responsibility to apply both existing laws and resources to ensure equal starting opportunity for all. Where existing laws are inadequate, we have a duty to make or have new laws made; smart laws that are accommodating for all, especially those at increased risk of marginalisation. Where effective, we must use complimentary policies to provide a temporal cushion until a sustainable solution is achieved.”
Asked if the current Oath of Office felt different from the previous two, Nweke answered in the affirmative adding that “this third time, it felt special because I swore this oath in the hands of one of the two individuals that invited me to party politics, Wouter De Vriendt. This journey began in 2005 when Herman Lodewyckx, a friend for many years, came calling for coffee with this young, promising and unapologetically ambitious chap. Their mission was simple: we need you to stand election with us as independent candidate under the Green Party ticket. The rest is history! Today, that chap, Wouter has emerged Council President; a few weeks earlier, Herman was sworn in as 2nd term State Legislator for West Flanders. We aren’t doing badly, are we?”
Married to Tonia Nweke and father of two young adult sons, Collins Nweke is of Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria extraction and migrated to Belgium in 1993.
The Belgian Green Party politician sees himself as a non-state actor as far as Nigerian politics is concerned since he is not a card-carrying member of any political party there. A past Executive Secretary/Chief Executive and later Chairman of the London-based Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe, Nweke had served in Nigeria’s Presidential Advisory Board for Vision 2020 under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Founder of Nigeria Human Capital, in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria, he had led a Trade Mission to the State of Osun under the Governorship of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. In 2018 he was in consideration for the Director-Generalship of the new Nigerian Diaspora Commission, whose establishment Bill he over the decade worked collaboratively with different stakeholders in Nigeria and in the Diaspora to bring to fruition.