WELCOME REMARK BY CYNTHIA MBAMALU ON BEHALF OF YIAGA AFRICA AND THE NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN MOVEMENT.
I stand here in this historic moment with great joy in my heart on behalf of YIAGA AFRICA, the Not Too Young to Run movement and our partner the United Kingdom Agency for International Development to welcome you all to the largest gathering of young elected legislators; The Convergence 2.0.
The 2019 general election was referred to as an election with numbers: 84 million registered voters, 91 registered political parties, 23, 316 candidates vying for the 1558 elective seats. Of these numbers our favorite was the percentage of young voters and then young candidates! 34.7% youth candidates with the 41.8% contesting for seats in the State Assemblies and 27.4% for the House of representatives and today in this room, we have young lawmakers who we celebrate today. Today 340 days after the signing of the Not Too Young to Run Bill into law, we have 17 under 30 year old who won their election into their respective state houses of assembly. Today out of the 991 seats in the state houses of assembly, over 200 will be occupied by young elected lawmakers. This is our democracy taking shape, because we cannot talk about democracy without inclusion. This is progress made for youth, for Nigeria, and this is hope which we hold on to. As a young woman, this is also hope I hold on to believing that as I see people of my generation represent me in government that I will also see people who look like me; women represent us in Government.
Today is beyond being young, it is about Leadership, Power and Politics. Leadership, because for so long we have struggled as a people to answer the leadership question. The convergence 2.0 is about working together to set a legislative agenda that is people driven, that promote inclusion and the indices that enable sustainable development. It is about building a strong network of committed young lawmakers who support each other and speak truth to power. It is about quality and accountable leadership, providing that alternative that serves as a model for leadership. Power; because we must be reminded that the legislative arm of government is the hub of democracy and you represent the great people of Nigeria where sovereignty lies. Politics because this time we must make our voices count in government and in the political decisions taken.
So, today the Not Too Young to Run movement, welcomes you all to the Convergence 2.0, today we celebrate every young person worked hard to see the Not Too Young to Run become law, today we celebrate every young person who contested in the 2019 general election and more importantly, today we celebrate all our young elected lawmakers.
Leadership is not easy, it is a responsibility that you now have to ensure that in all you do, you are enabling your constituents and Nigerians achieve purpose. Thank you for answering the clarion call.
It is going to be a 2 day intensive program and please let us take advantage of this opportunity. May we remain committed to building a democracy that works for us and building the Nigeria of our dreams.
Welcome once again and God bless Nigeria.