The government of the United States of America (USA) have admonished Nigerians youths who are aspiring for elective political offices in the 2019 elections to brace up for the challenges of providing quality leadership and positively change the democratic fortunes of the country.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr William Stuart Symington, gave the admonition in Abuja, on Wednesday, in his closing keynote speech at the end of the three-day conference of 400 youth candidates running for offices in the 2019 elections, tagged, ‘The Convergence’, organised by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), YIAGA AFRICA.
Speaking on the theme, “Now Is The Time”, Ambassador Symington emphasised that the task of building a virile future lied on the youthful political candidates who cut across the 91 political parties registered to contest the forthcoming elections.
He admonished the youths to see their coming together at the conference as a big opportunity for them to take up the responsibility and put on the required leadership character, noting that “the challenge is not about the 2019 elections but about changing Nigeria’s democracy forever.
“I came here today and I saw you. Nigeria needs all of you, the youths, to survive. I am sure that there is no one here among you who are less than 19 years old. Nigeria’s modern democracy is a teenager. It will turn 20-year-old next year.
“Now is an opportunity for you to make the change. But I have a bad news for you. You cannot all win in the 2019 elections. But you should not despair. I am sure that you know the story of our former president, Abraham Lincoln, who contested elections four times.
“Some of you gathered here will have the opportunity to change the cause of Nigeria’s history by your utterances and actions. Let me tell you this: No one can lift the others out of poverty; nobody will give you power but you have to take it.
“You have to work hand-in-hand and create opportunities. Almost all Nigerians are complaining of bad leadership, but the Nigerian government does not have the resources to govern. The government must depend on the people, not the people depending on the government.”
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Also speaking at the opening ceremony of ‘The Convergence’, Head of the Department For International Development (DFID), Nigeria Office, Ms Debbie Palmer, told the 400 political candidates to see the conference as a rare opportunity to seek to run in the 2019 elections.
“We said it all loud when the Not Too Young Run Bill was passed into law. That was a huge achievement. Everybody is involved in that movement and everyone of you gathered here will be standing for office as a result of that.
“Today, it is about gender and women and it is about inclusion; it is about political participation. It is about you guys; it is about the young people here in Nigeria. I mean that, in a nutshell, it is about the future of Nigeria,” she said.
In his opening remark at the conference, Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA and Convener, Noto Too Young To Run Bill, said the conference was organised and designed to equip youth candidates with necessary tools for running effective political campaigns.
“The conference is a unique platform for youth candidates to build their competence, network, share experiences and advocate for greater representation and credible 2019 elections. Ultimately, ‘The Convergence’ will equip the youth candidates with the right attitude and values to deliver the much-needed good governance and quality representation in Nigeria,” he said.