On Tuesday, the European Union (EU) delivered a powerful message to newly elected legislators in the National and state Houses of Assembly, urging them to play an active role in deepening democracy and remaining connected to their constituencies.
During the opening ceremony of the two-day conference titled “The Convergence 5.0,” organized by th European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria cohort for young federal and state legislators across Nigeria, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Samuela Isopi, represented by Deputy Head of the EU to Nigeria, Alexandre Borges-Gomes, emphasized the importance of youth inclusion in the electoral process and political participation. Recognizing that such inclusion is not only equitable but also essential for national development, the EU highlighted the significance of young voices in shaping the country’s future.
“The Convergence 5.0” served as a platform for young legislators to learn from experienced counterparts, connect with peers, and enhance their legislative capacity. The conference’s theme, “Leadership, Power Politics,” encouraged participants to engage in discussions on effective governance, responsible leadership, and strategies for national development.
Ms Isopi pointed out that while the passage of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run law was a step in the right direction, there has been limited translation of increased youth political participation. She urged the new legislators to prioritize their constituents and work towards deepening democracy, assuring them of the EU’s continued support to promote effective youth political participation.
Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa and a member of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria cohort, presented key findings on youth representation in the legislature. The data revealed that youth representation in the House of Representatives saw a slight increase from three per cent in 2019 to 3.92 per cent, and in state Assemblies, it rose from 8.9 per cent to 9.2 per cent.
Notably, candidates below 30 years were elected to the National Assembly for the first time since the passage of the Act in 2018. Additionally, four young female legislators under 35 years won seats in state Assemblies, with Kwara having the highest record of young female legislators.
In a further commitment to encourage exemplary legislative duties, Samson Itodo pledged to award $20,000 to any lawmakers at the state and federal levels who make remarkable contributions to legislative activities.
The conference provided an empowering platform for young legislators to foster inclusive governance and contribute to the advancement of democracy in Nigeria. The EU’s call for youth inclusion and prioritizing democratic principles reinforces the importance of inclusive representation for the nation’s sustainable development and progress.