Nims Obunge, former pastor and head of the anti-crime and anti-violence charity, The Peace Alliance, is standing as an independent candidate for the forthcoming elections for London Mayor. Keep The Faith magazine caught up with Pastor Nims to find out more about the man, and his vision for the future of London.
KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): So, who is Nims Obunge? Tell us a little bit about your childhood.
NIMS OBUNGE (NO): I was born in Kensington, London at St Mary Abbott’s Hospital to the late Sir Ambassador D D Obunge and Lady Emma Obunge. My father was a Nigerian ambassador and a career diplomat. I schooled in many of the countries he was sent to as a diplomat, including the UK, Sweden, Ireland and Italy, to name a few.
I studied Political Science, intending to follow in my father’s footsteps and become an Ambassador but, alas, I‘ve done everything but that – from working as a manager in Wimpy Restaurants; a licensed Mortgage Advisor; being a youth and senior Pastor; starting and leading The Peace Alliance – a crime reduction and community cohesion charity – and now running to be the Mayor of London.
KTF: Why are you running for Mayor?
NO: I have spent some time thinking about the answer to this question and making sure I am doing it for the right reasons. Over the last 20 or so years, I have buried many children whose lives were cut short by the sharp blade of a knife or the burning shot of a gun. Their families have been left traumatised, and politicians have failed time and time again to articulate – let alone implement – a lasting solution.
The truth is, I believe that the future of London is too important to leave in the hands of the political parties and their internal policy fights. I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life to actively working on bringing peace to Londoners. It is a passion of mine.
My work at The Peace Alliance was all about peace in our communities; forging cohesion within those communities and, above all, ensuring that the future of our youth is secure. Over the last few years, I have seen an increase in knife-and-gun crime; the breakdown in communication between young people, police and the government and, what’s more, the government has not demonstrated a sustainable logical or strategic plan to resolve these issues. These are some of the reasons why I feel it is time for me to step up to be Mayor of this amazing city of ours. I don’t want to fail this generation.
KTF: What makes you stand out?
NO: I am a Londoner and I love this city. When I started The Peace Alliance 20 years ago in the borough of Haringey, I organised the Haringey Peace Awards, which eventually grew to become the London Leadership and Peace Awards. At this event, we celebrate many whose efforts help transform our city.
I also initiated an annual London Week of Peace, which involved over 500 collaborative events across every borough in London, including Londoners of all ages and backgrounds. I planned and hosted the London Peace Concerts, with up to 10,000 people in attendance. I facilitated local and London-wide rallies against violence on our streets and in our communities.
I chaired the London Criminal Justice Partnership Advisory Board and the Metropolitan Police Operation Blunt response to knife crime, whilst also being a member of the Police Independent Advisory Board to gun crime and the London Crimestoppers Board. I am also a member of the Violent Crime Prevention Board for London. All of these – and much more – captures my passion for London’s safety.
I believe my past experiences position me to respond to the challenges of poverty elevation, trafficking, knife crime, and educational and aspirational attainment. I also have a strong strategic team that I believe will steer us in the right direction of being a safe, affordable, electric and prosperous city.
KTF: What do you have to offer Londoners?
NO: I believe I offer London my many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and the passion to implement and achieve results. I run as an independent mayoral candidate, without the baggage of a political past.
I believe Londoners are tired of being lied to and want something fresh, authentic and different. I have built significant relationships over the last 30 years, which we can leverage to make our city safe and prosperous. I offer Londoners something new, without discounting the strengths where necessary, for some of the old. I believe London needs to be run by practitioners and professionals at a time when politicians may have failed.
At present we are on a listening exercise across London, and at the end of this we will write [through our manifesto] to all Londoners, hopefully giving them an accurate picture of how we can work together to deliver the London of our dreams. Initial thoughts, however, include a massive recruitment drive for special constables from all our communities, who can support young people to think carefully about their future; a major campaign against exclusion, and robust support for vulnerable young people. We also need to make London safe again, by delivering youth clubs that double up as innovation and entrepreneurship hubs, raising aspirations and economic empowerment.
We need to make London affordable, by creating innovative partnerships to fund a major drive for building homes for thousands of first-time buyers in London, and frontline key workers in the communities they serve at scale. We need to strengthen and reconnect communities through cultural hubs across London. We also need to make London electric, by championing for a new Green London and ensuring carbon neutrality by 2030. And finally, I offer a prosperous London, a London which drives entrepreneurship and opportunities for the most deprived, and actively promotes happiness and mental wellbeing.
KTF: Over the years, you have received numerous awards and recognitions, including an MBE; being appointed Deputy Lieutenant to HM’s Lord Lieutenant for Greater London, and have been recognised as one of the Evening Standard’s ‘1000 most influential people’ in London. What do all these mean to you?
NO: Whilst I am grateful to those who have felt the need to recognise our efforts, I am painfully aware of the trauma felt within many of our communities, and grateful to the many agencies and people who continue to work with us to make positive changes where we can. I believe we should use these moments of recognition as platforms to further positively influence and impact our society.
KTF: We know you have been actively involved in addressing knife-and-gun crime over the years, what else are you about?
NO: Last year I was excited when we were able to set up a Community Food Hub with the support of The Felix Project, enabling us to provide groceries for between 50 to 100 individuals or families every week, with up to 600 names on our database.
Over the years we have also provided employment for citizens imprisoned for violent and other criminal offences, and watched them make significant life changes. I continue to speak passionately in prisons, challenging inmates to adopt alternative lifestyle choices. This came about out of a desire to understand what goes on in the hearts and minds of prisoners, and to use this information to dissuade young people who are on the path to becoming criminals and to inform government policies. To date, I have been to prisons, such as Belmarsh, The Mount, Pentonville, Feltham Youth Offenders, Holloway, and a few others.
KTF: What is the one thing you want Londoners to come away with after reading this article? Why should they vote for you?
NO: I would like Londoners to see me as the People’s Mayor, and believe that I genuinely have a desire to serve them whilst also knowing that only together can we create the London of our dreams. I am therefore asking all of us to step up for London and play our part. To those who have previously felt they can only vote the way their family vote, please consider lending me your vote, and giving London the chance of a lifetime.
To those who don’t vote for whatever reason, please register before the 21st April deadline, step up on 7th May, and let’s make history together.
For more information, visit www.nimsforlondon.com