By Angela Atabo
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, on Monday urged Nigerian youths to leverage the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill to enhance their participation in politics.
A statement by Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), said that Arkwright made the call at the “Commonwealth Big Lunch’’ event in Abuja.
The envoy commended young Nigerians for securing the passage of the age reduction bill, popularly referred to as Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill by National and State Houses of Assembly.
He said that the reform was long overdue.
He stated that Big Lunch in Nigeria was aimed at empowering youths because they were important to the Commonwealth as 60 per cent of Commonwealth nations’ citizens were below 30 years of age.
Arkwright said that 40 per cent of the world youths lived in Commonwealth countries and that one billion people living in Commonwealth countries were under-25 years.
“Activities of youth organisations are important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria as well; young people in Nigeria face challenges and the good work youth organizations carry out provide solutions to those challenges.
“For example, you should all be proud of your role to secure the passage of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill, a reform that has been long overdue.
“It is also a reform that I and a number of other High Commissioners here present have also supported.
“I was delighted to meet the YIAGA Group and I hope that it leads and open the doors to greater youth participation in politics and in policy-making throughout Nigeria.”
Arkwright said that British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had put youth at the heart of the upcoming Commonwealth Summit in London.
He said that May had also invited youth delegates to address commonwealth leaders in New York in September to talk about their vision for the Commonwealth.
He said that employment, Climate Change, peace and security, and how to improve trade among Commonwealth countries were all part of the agenda for the September summit.
According to the envoy, the future of Nigeria is the future of young people and if young people are not included in that debate, then the future of Nigeria will not be a happy one.
“I am confident that it will be a happy one because people like you will be involved and I encourage you to stay involved and get involved in elections and vote.
“Make sure to also ensure your votes count,’’ he advised. (NAN)