The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, on Tuesday, said the United Kingdom has spent about £795,000 to promote youth inclusion in politics in Nigeria.
She said this at a conference titled “The Convergence 2.0,” organised by YIAGA Africa and the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Movement at Transcorp Hotels in Abuja.
Although Ms Laing mentioned £795 million in her speech, the British High Commission later sent a Tweet indicating the correct figure is £795,000.
About 300 young newly elected lawmakers of various political parties from across the nation converged at the conference.
The aim of the event was to prepare the young legislators for quality representation.
The British envoy congratulated the young lawmakers-elect on their emergence saying; ”You have moved from “Not Too Young To Run” to being “Ready to Run.”
”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,” Mrs Laing added.
She urged the legislators to support each other and network despite coming from different geopolitical zones and religions.
”I also want to encourage you to support each other, particularly the relatively few females among you.
”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.”
The need for Women Inclusion
The high commissioner called for the participation of more women in politics.
”Nigeria will not move forward if the space for women’s engagement isn’t widened,” she said.
”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.”
According to the BBC, there are 208 women in the U.K House of Commons, which is 32 per cent of the members. In Nigeria, presently, there are only seven female senators and 20 female members of the House of Representatives.
From the 2015 general elections, women secured only 6.2 per cent (seven female senators) of the seats in the Senate.
Only six women emerged as deputy governors in the 36 states of the country. No woman was elected governor.
Some of the factors affecting female political participation and representation in Nigeria, according to Centre for Development and Democracy (CDD), include funding, awareness, culture, religion, party system and structure, among others.
The British high commissioner further urged the young lawmakers to make laws and policies that will impact on education, health, security, women, and people with disabilities (PWDs).
She also advised the elected young legislators that the inclusion of integrity, fairness, and accountability should become the hallmarks of their tenure.
”You will make the laws and policies which will affect education, health, the economy, security, women, PWDs – and remember, somebody, championed the law which made it possible for you to run for office!
”The responsibility is on your shoulder to ensure that integrity, fairness, inclusion, and accountability become the hallmarks of your tenure,” she added.