British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Her Excellency Catriona Laing has urged young elected legislators to make laws that will affect education, health, the economy, security, women and People Living with Disabilities. The British envoy said this while giving a goodwill message at the largest gathering of young elected legislators tagged Convergence 2.0.
During her remark at the event which kicked off on Tuesday, she urged the newly elected young legislators to remember that somebody championed the law which made it possible for you to run for office, thus the responsibility is on your shoulder to ensure that integrity, fairness, inclusion and accountability become the hallmarks of your tenure.
At the high powered conference organised by YIAGA AFRICA and the Not Too Young To Run with the support of the United Kingdom Agency for International Development, H.E Laing said, “I am extremely proud to be here this morning, looking at nearly 300 young political representatives, reflecting the wave of energy and exuberance that has entered the Nigerian political space. Last December when UKaid supported the original Convergence, there were over 400 candidates. Approximately 75% of that first cohort was elected, which is a remarkable feat”.
According to her, “this is why the UK has been a proud supporter of this movement, and we will continue to support you as long as you are prepared to lead. Your growth as political representatives will determine how much progress is made in all areas of life in Nigeria. So you now have a responsibility to engage in the state and federal legislatures on issues which affect the people who voted for you.”
She said, “You might have needed support in order to contest the 2019 elections but, come 2023, be prepared to run on your own record of achievements. There will be days when you feel discouraged or you feel things are not changing quickly enough. The challenges facing Nigeria did not materialise overnight, so neither will the solutions. Be determined to be part of the change, however incremental it is.”
Speaking further, she said, “I also want to encourage you to support each other, particularly the relatively few females among you. Nigeria will not move forward if the space for women’s engagement isn’t widened. You now hold a special place in Nigeria’s history; but you need to decide whether you are content just being the first “young group of representatives”, or you would rather be the first wave of change that brought a new dimension to Nigerian politics”.
“You have moved from “Not Too Young To Run” to being “Ready to Run”; now it’s time to contribute. Your presence here today in this inaugural group of young representatives is about Nigeria’s future; it’s about inclusion, it’s political participation. It is really about how young people will lead the way and, specifically, how you will lead the way.”, she said
“This is why the UK has been a proud supporter of this movement, and we will continue to support you as long as you are prepared to lead. Your growth as political representatives will determine how much progress is made in all areas of life in Nigeria. So you now have a responsibility to engage in the state and federal legislatures on issues which affect the people who voted for you”, she said.
“This is the beginning of a journey. International partners such as the UK can only support you, but the responsibility is yours to take Nigeria to the next level. I wish you all the very best in the years ahead”, she concluded .