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U.S ambassador urges young parliamentarians to be change agents in Nigeria



The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, has urged young parliamentarians in the country to be instruments of change by fostering justice and inclusiveness in governance.

Symington made the call on Wednesday at a conference tagged the Convergence 2.0 with the theme` `Leadership, Power and Politics”, organised by Not-To-Young-To-Run Movement for young parliamentarians in Abuja on Wednesday .

“Every democracy and every electoral official derives strength from citizens and this can only be maximised when there is synergy between them,” he said.

He said the answer to the challenges of security, education, infrastructure, prosperity and opportunity lay with the people.

“My suggestion is that all these elected officials should lift their reach beyond their supporter and engage with the people because they ran the race not for themselves, their friends and family but for their country.

“Now that they have won the first part of the race, the hard part begins this is not to be driven in what they do by those who come to them seeking favour but to turn to all.

“They have to by the power of their own integrity and character show what kind of work Nigerians can do when they work together as one.

“The challenge is this, when it comes to security, everybody knows that every bad actor has family, friends and neighbours and they know who are doing those things,’’ he said.

According to Symington, somehow it is central to reach all of these people and together make insecurity stop because security forces alone can never secure any country, they must be lifted up by all of you.

He also urged office holders to give themselves to making sure that in a few years time every Nigerian would be able to read because it is hard to ask citizens to read between the lines and know what really matters when they can’t read at all.

He said education is not just about building schools and training teachers but using all powers as youths with imagination of apps, innovations, internet, and mentors to help people who do not know how to read.

He urged them to reach out and find people making waves in different spheres around them and empower them to do more to create prosperity.

“Above all, lift all of Nigeria up,’’ he said.

Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, Board Member, YIAGA AFRICA said that a lot of youths leveraged on the Not-To-Young-To-Run Act to run for offices and they won.

Nwagwu said that the conference was therefore providing them with skills that would help them to do the work better and differently and to make a difference in parliament.

“What we are thinking is that if we own these young ones, who are products and beneficiaries of the Not-To-Young-To-Run the struggle, haven benefited from the sweat of young Nigerians who demanded that the bill be signed.

“So we need to get to that point where this same movement that produced them is over sighting them to be different that is the expectation.

“Not necessarily because they are young but because the movement that produced them is a product of struggle and activism,’’ he said.

Nwagwu said the group would follow up on the young parliamentarians keeping tab on them to build values of good governance.

Mr Samson Itodo, Convener, said that Nigeria is in dire need of excellent public leaders and legislatures who would consult with their people and represent them well.

Itodo expressed gladness that some new breed youths won elections so equipping them on legislation is imperative in order to know how to hold the Executive to account and do quality oversight to improve all sectors so as to provide the excellent leadership that the nation desire.

This, he said would help them blaze the trail and be exceptional politicians that would change the political narrative in Nigeria.

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