Shortly after Nelson Ijih announced his candidacy for Congress, he posted a video on Twitter of him dancing to a song called “#MAGA CHALLENGE.” “In Oregon, we call it MOGA,” Ijih writes.
The 37-year-old Nigeria native is running for Congress as a Republican in the 2020 election in hopes of “Making Oregon Great Again.”
With a campaign slogan of “It’s about time to renew Oregon,” Ijih (pronounced EEN-ghee) recently moved to Eugene to run for the 4th district and take over Peter DeFazio’s long-held seat.
Ijih says he wants to enact term limits for those in Congress. He says his background in federal government and his entrepreneurialism make him the right candidate for the job.
“If you are a career politician, after a while you are mostly concerned with your own career and personal interest,” he says. “If you go back in history, the founders of America wanted Congress to be more of a volunteer job for regular citizens to represent the people.”
On other issues he is passionate about, Ijih says, “Yeah, there’s a whole lot of issues and we can go into that perhaps, maybe some other time.”
On his website, however, multiple positions are listed under “issues” covering topics such as education, business and keeping citizens informed.
When he was invited to interview with Eugene Weekly, Ijih first asked if he could do it over a Twitter thread. He agreed to do the interview in person, but brought a friend to film the interview to show his Twitter followers.
In the end, the video was not uploaded.
Ijih hasn’t had any political experience, but says he did spend some time working for the State Department in foreign service with the intelligence community. He says can’t go into specific detail about the kind of work he did in intelligence, where he worked or how long he worked there.
He chose to work in the government as a way of giving back. Ijih grew up in Nigeria, surrounded, he says, by war and conflict. After high school, Ijih and his brother entered the U.S. visa lottery. Ijih won and moved to Illinois for college, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. He completed a master’s degree in computer science at Portland State University, and teaches part time at Portland Community College.
He became a U.S. citizen a little more than 10 years ago.
Ijih also started his own tech company, BlockMint, which offers a private browser centered on Internet security and the use of crypto currency via blockchain technology. On his website, he lists “Embrace Blockchain Technology” as an issue he supports.
Because of his background in tech and work for the federal government, coupled with his experience immigrating to the U.S., Ijih says he makes a strong candidate, although he doesn’t want to be in politics as a career.
“I think it’s about time we switched things up,” he says. “I just really think we need a fresh perspective.”
According to the Federal Election Commission website, Ijih has not yet raised any money for his campaign. “We just got the website up, so nothing coming in yet,” he says.
Ijih is fairly active on Twitter, often discussing topics related to his campaign and national politics. He has openly criticized the impeachment inquiry.
In one tweet, he wrote, “The impeachment move is the Democratic elite digging their own graves.” In another he tweeted, “In the end @realDonaldTrump will not be impeached and will go on to win against Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren.”
Aside from this, he says that he personally does not have an opinion on Donald Trump, because he has never met him.
Ijih says he is confident that he can win votes in the primaries. As a CEO, former government worker and immigrant, this may be the next step in the American dream.
“I believe in America, and I believe in the opportunities America offers the world,” he says.
Clarification: Six months after the interview was published, Ijih now says that he did not say he moved to Eugene to run for the fourth district.