On the 9th of April, inhabitants from all around Finland are voting in municipal elections, choosing candidates to be counselors in various municipalities to serve a four-year term. Espoo, which is the second biggest city and municipality in Finland have over 700 candidates contesting in this election. Only 75 candidates with the highest number of votes will be selected to be counselors.
Daniel Anini, a candidate in Espoo, has joined the race for the first time and competes on the ticket of the Christian Democrats. Although a first timer, Anini says he aims to cause a surprise in the election and believes he can get enough votes to become one of the 75 chosen candidates of Espoo.
Anini’s main campaign message is built around equality, better care for the aged and becoming a voice for the voiceless. According to him, the campaign message has gone down well with the inhabitants of Espoo, with many of them throwing their support behind him. “It is encouraging when people tell me they will vote for me even though they do not support the Christian Democrats. These are some of the things that motivate me to fight forward,” he says.
The Finnish law requires all inhabitants to be treated equally regardless of their age, nationality, sexual orientation or religious belief. However, Anini believes discrimination somehow still exists in some schools especially against students of foreign background. According to him, students who face discrimination often do not feel part of the school; they find it difficult to mingle with the rest of the students. According to Yle, a Finnish national news media, hate speech is the most common form of discrimination in Finland. One of the issues Anini wants to raise at the municipal council if elected is to address the need to establish an office in the municipality where people can notify authorities if they feel they are being discriminated.
Anini mentions that youth and the aged are of special concern to him. Other areas of concern are affordable rent and more car parking lots in the municipality. His interest towards the elderly in Finland increased during his military service, during which he got much worried about the plight of Finnish war veterans who fought in World War II. According to sotiemmeveteraanit.fi, Finland’s war veterans’ website, there are 24,000 war veterans still living in Finland. The percentage of the aged population in Finland increases every year. In 2015, 20.5 percent (%) of the population was over 65 years. Anini says, while the elderly deserve a good and humane care, the young student would also need more guidance in relation to career choices and education.
Finland provides integration programs for immigrants, which includes language courses, adult education courses and other vocational courses. However, Anini believes the city could do more when it comes to integration of refugees. According to him, after refugees are processed and granted residence permit, they are enrolled into Finnish language courses, which last for less than a year. Anini believes the language course is so short that at the end people are still not able to speak the language. ”Without the language it is hard to get a good job,” he says, which makes it important that the course duration be extended to give enough time for immigrants to get hold of the language.
Since the representation of people with foreign background in Finnish politics is still marginal, it can be often assumed that the candidates with diverse background are only interested in issues related to immigration. However, Anini says his campaign is for everyone and not only limited to immigrants.
Anini joined the Christian Democrats in 2015, that being his first time of joining politics. He is currently one of the 11 executive members of the party at the local level in Espoo. He would have joined politics earlier but his language skills were not enough to and he believes this year is the right time. He says his service will be of help to the municipality when he is elected into office.
Anini says the ideologies of the Christian Democrats and his personal values are the same, which is the main reason he chose the party over other political parties and not just because he is a Christian. He says the Christian Democrats has foreigners at heart and they are supportive towards refugees and they have got many good policies. The party believes refugees are welcome to live in Finland and that they deserve better treatment. “For me, soon this party will be a major force to reckon with in Finnish politics because people are realizing we are a better option to the others.” He says.
Job, education and moving to Finland
Anini currently works as a security officer. He is also a soldier in the reserve army where they go for refresher training each year. All male Finnish citizens are required to join the military service when they turn 18 years of age. After the required military service, citizens can voluntarily join the reserve army where their services where they are required to train and develop their military skills once in a year.
Anini started a double degree programme in Social Services in Joensuu. He relocated to Helsinki in 2007 to look for a job and to continue his studies. He gained admission to study Social Services at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Espoo. He took a break from studies after a year because it was difficult to combine both work and school.
In 2015, he started a course in Security that lasted for a year and a half, which he graduated in December 2016. He had earlier obtained a certificate to work as security personnel. Reflecting on the work, Anini says it was at the time where there was influx of refugees in Finland and there was high demand for security personnel with foreign background to work at the refugee centers. “I was working for four companies at the same time,” he says.
Anini arrived in Finland as an asylum seeker from Ghana in 2002. He got enrolled to a high school in Joensuu in 2004 though he had earlier completed Dormaa Senior Secondary School in Ghana prior to arriving in Finland. According to Anini, the immigration office rejected his asylum application on the grounds that Ghana is a peaceful country. Since he arrived without a passport, he needed to secure an official document to be able to live in Finland. He says at one stage the police almost deported him and it was like “run for your life” but it took the intervention of the Kortelaiset in Joensuu and God that he was later granted a residence permit based on his studies. He now holds a Finnish citizenship.
“No one goes into an election with the intention to lose. Although I am a first timer, I have a robust campaign and I may cause a surprise in this election if it is the will of God. ” Anini says.
Source: GH Diaspora