The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, on Tuesday, May 7 said the United Kingdom has spent about £795,000 (over three hundred million naira) to promote youth inclusion in politics in Nigeria.
She said this at a conference titled “The Convergence 2.0” organised by the Not Too Young To Run movement in Abuja.
About 300 young newly elected lawmakers of various political parties from across the nation are attending the conference aimed at equipping them for the task ahead.
The British envoy said: “The UK has been a very proud supporter of this movement, and we have pretty put our money behind the struggle, about 795,000 pounds to be precise.
“We have and 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.
“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.”
She encouraged the lawmakers to support each other, particularly the females among them, adding that 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.
“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,” she added.
The Convergence 2.0 is designed to inspire, empower and expose newly elected young legislators in the 2019 elections to resources and tools required for excellent public leadership and quality representation.
According to the organisers, it presents an opportunity for the newly elected young lawmakers to reflect on Nigeria’s 20 years of democracy with a view to designing a new democratic and leadership model that promotes institutional reforms, economic development and reduces inequality.