The European Union, EU, on Tuesday, charged new legislators in the National and state Houses of Assembly to deepen democracy and never forget their constituencies.
The EU also stated that the inclusion of young people in the electoral process and in the political participation in the country was not only fair but also good for national development.
The European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Samuela Isopi, represented by the Deputy Head of the EU to Nigeria, Alexandre Borges-Gomes, stated these in Abuja during the opening ceremony of a two-day conference organised by Yiaga Africa for young federal and state legislators across Nigeria.
The conference dubbed, “The Convergence 5.0,” had as its theme, “Leadership, Power Politics.”
The Convergence 5.0, according to its organisers, is a platform for the young legislators to learn from their experienced counterparts, connect with peers, and develop their legislative capacity.
According to Isopi, although the passage of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run law was a step in the right direction, it has not translated into an increase in youth political participation.
She said, “On achieving office, your primary objective should be to do your bit to deepen democracy. You need to build critical mass. Your constituents matter. Never lose sight of that; we, the EU, will continue to provide support and do all we can to promote effective youth political participation.”
The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said youth representation in legislature improved with a slight margin with the North-West having the highest percentage of young legislators, followed by the North-East, South-East and South-South.
He said, “Key findings revealed that youth representation in the House of Representatives increased from three per cent in 2019 to 3.92 per cent (0.9 per cent increase) while in the state Assemblies it rose from 8.9 per cent in 2019 to 9.2 per cent (0.3 per cent increase).
“Two young people, between ages 25 and 29 years, won seats in the House of Representatives. This is the first time candidates below 30 years will be elected to the National Assembly since the passage of the Act in 2018.
“Four young female legislators under 35 years won legislative seats in three state Assemblies, namely, Delta, Lagos and Kwara.
“Kwara has the highest record of young female legislators and the youngest elected female, 26 years, is from Kwara State.”
Itodo also promised to dole out $20,000 to any lawmakers at the state and federal levels who make their marks in legislative duties.