Nigeria must widen the space for women engagement- British High Commissioner

British-High-Commissioner-Catriona-Laing.

The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Liang says Nigeria must widened the space for women’s engagement in governance, if it wants to move forward.
Liang said this at a conference for young elected representatives with the theme “the Convergence 2.0, Leadership, Power and Politics for Democracy Renewal,’’ organised by the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement in Abuja on Tuesday.
She said with the signing into law of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill, a lot of young politicians contested in the 2019 elections, but unfortunately the elections did not favour women.
She said the UK government believes in a government of inclusion so it supported Nigeria on that and urged the newly elected parliamentarians to embark on positive legislations that would bring about remarkable changes in Nigeria.
“You have moved from “Not-Too-Young-To-Run” to being “Ready to Run”; now it’s time to contribute, your presence here today 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; it is about how to lead in a very personal level by making your personal contribution to Nigeria’s democracy.
“This is why the UK has been a proud supporter of this movement, the UK supported convergence 1 and we are supporting convergence 2 for young candidates and we did put some money behind it about 795 million pounds to be precise and we will continue to support this, ’’ she said.
Liang said that the UK is ready to support youths as long as the young parliamentarians stayed on course.
She said frankly, there would be some difficult times, and some setbacks and they would be pushed into a lot of personal pressure not concede to things.
She encouraged them to stand firm and respect their own values and be true to themselves adding that people made the law for them to be able to participate now it is their own turn to make to affect citizens positively.
“You were supported in the 2019 elections but come next elections you will have to run on your own achievements so think about the legacy you want to leave behind.
“I want to encourage you to support each other, particularly the relatively few females among you, the responsibility is on your shoulder to ensure that integrity, fairness, inclusion and accountability become the hallmarks of your tenure.
“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, ’’ she said.
Liang said that the young parliamentarians now hold a special place in Nigeria’s history but needed to decide whether they were content just being the first young group of representatives, or would rather be the first wave of change that brought a new dimension to Nigerian politics.
Mr Abdulaziz Nyako, sponsor, Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill at the senate, said now that the bill had been passed, there is need to strengthen its implementation for full manifestation.
Nyako said that with the Act, Nigeria’s institutions would get stronger and people would come to offices based on their character without having a God father anywhere.
He advised the newly elected young parliamentarians to be good legislatures and represent their people.
“To be good legislatures, you require courage to do this because there will come a time when you will be faced with serious decision making whether to vote for this or that but when that time comes vote your conscience ,’’ he said.
Mr Samson Itodo, Convener, Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement said the clamour for the youth inclusion is not just about having youths in offices.
He said the point is that Nigeria is in dire need of excellent public leaders, legislatures who would consult with their people and represent them well.
He said it is also about legislature who would hold the Executive to account and do quality oversight to improve all sectors so as to provide the excel leadership the nation needs.
“The burden is on you the young parliamentarians that is why we celebrate you today and to remind you of that burden that as you become members –elect, be reminded of the fact that you went through hell to get the votes of people and you are accountable to those people,’’ he said.
He said the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act has brought in young people into governance with about nine of them present at the conference being under age and the youngest being 25 years-old.(NAN)

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