George Oguntade, Nigeria’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, says President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Not Too Young To Run bill to law to raise the political prospect of the youth and to place Nigeria in its right place in the comity of nations.
The retired supreme court judge said this while speaking at the Sussex Nigerian Society (SNS) democracy day celebration at the University of Sussex, UK, on Thursday.
“On the 29 of May, Nigerians across the world marked 19 years of uninterrupted democratic governance. Since then, successive leaderships continue to bear the responsibility of our collective aspirations of a nation where justice, equality, freedom and opportunities abound,” he said.
“To fulfil its potential and find its rightful place in the comity of nations, Nigeria must promote inclusive governance in which the country’s youth play a pivotal role.
“It is for this reason why President Muhammadu Buhari on 31st may 2018 signed into law the Not Too Young To Run bill, raising the prospect of younger candidates to vie for public office.
“Government has also undertaken numerous interventionist strategies to create an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship through series of skill acquisition and funding mechanisms.”
He appreciated Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor of University of Sussex, and the entire management of the school for “tireless work over the years of tutoring and mentoring generations of Nigerian youths for the benefit of our dear country and the world at large”.
“I am hopeful that ongoing collaborations between Sussex and sister institutions in Nigerian will be sustained,” the revered justice added.
Adam Tickell, the vice-chancellor, on his part, said the University of Sussex is very proud of its association with Nigeria.
“We have very strong relationships with TETFUND, we do some work for National Universities Commission, we help to train university teachers in Nigeria, and we have a long-standing relationship with the National Youth Service Corps, which has really been driven through by Richard Foley,” the VC said.
“We really are committed to working in Nigeria and with Nigeria for the long term. We would love you to continue to keep in touch with us, and work with us while you are back home in Nigeria, so we can help support the development of Nigeria. We are committed to working with Nigeria.”
Ukachi Chukwu, MA student at the University, who delivered a speech on her involvement in the Not Too Young To Run campaign, called on Nigerian youths to now take their rightful place in the country’s political space.
She said this time, voting will no longer be enough.
“Merely utilising the voting power will no longer cut it. Merely tweeting about what is happening in the polity will no longer cut it,” she said.
“Merely hanging around the corridors of power as SAs and SAs to SAs will no longer cut it. Merely wishing for political change and development in Nigeria will no longer cut it. It’s time to become part of the change we desire. It is time to put away primordial sentiments and pursue collective interests.
“By not actively getting involved in politics, we, as young people, sabotage ourselves and ultimately bear the brunt of bad leadership. Don’t just get your PVC. Join a political party and run for office.”
Bugewa Apampa, the director of pharmacy development at the University, who doubled as the keynote speaker, for the day, said a democracy is as strong the education of the people.
She called for an improvement in Nigeria’s educational system, a voting system that is connected to wisdom, and a close of the gulf between the rich and poor.
The high commissioner was accompanied by Emmanuel Namah, the commission’s minister of education and welfare; and S.A. Paramole, the first secretary of the same department.
At the event, the outgoing executives of the Sussex Nigerian Society, led by Fatai Afolabi, handed over to Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin, the newly-elected president of the association, and his team.
Photo Credit: Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin II