Nigerian-born man, Tony Chike Iwobi, 62, has been elected as the first black senator in Italy. Iwobi the chief immigration spokesman for the far-right northern League party (Lega Nord), which has been accused of stirring up xenophobia in Italy, was elected in the industrial city of Brescia in northern Italy — a major immigration hub. Iwobi came to Italy from Nigeria on a student visa in 1976 and subsequently married an Italian woman.
“It is with great excitement that I can tell you I have been elected senator… A new adventure is about to begin,” Iwobi said on Facebook on Tuesday following Sunday’s elections.
Tony Chike Iwobi has been a supporter of the League for more than two decades and used the campaign slogan #StopInvasion — a reference to the more than 690,000 migrants who have landed on Italian shores from North Africa since 2013.
Along with party leader Matteo Salvini, Tony Chike Iwobi, an IT entrepreneur, has argued that illegal immigration into Italy has led to an increase in racism.
“Discrimination begins when there are no rules and the state… lets anyone in. Illegality leads directly to violence and a racist response,” he said in January.
“The League supports healthy and controlled immigration which can act as a bulwark against racism,” he said.
Italy’s general election left the country with a hung parliament in which no single party or coalition commands an overall majority. Political horse-trading is underway as parties bid to form a working coalition government.
The League, led by Matteo Salvini, was the winning party in the right-wing alliance that took the most votes on Sunday but fell short of an overall majority.
Mario Balotelli, Italy’s most famous black footballer, said on Wednesday a politician who has become the first black person elected to the Senate should be ashamed of himself for representing a fiercely anti-migrant party.
“Perhaps I’m blind or perhaps they haven’t yet told him that he is black. But shame on you!!!” Balotelli wrote on Instagram.
The post showed a photograph of Iwobi with League leader Matteo Salvini, both wearing T-shirts saying: “Stop the Invasion” – a reference to the party’s call for a halt to African migrants who have poured into Italy in recent years.
Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants. He has played more than 30 times for the Italian national team and plays club soccer for French side Nice.