US Ambassador to Nigeria, Staurt Symington, on Thursday challenged youth candidates to work together in repositioning Nigeria’s democracy.
Symington made the call at a three-day conference tagged: “The Convergence” organised by the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement in Abuja to build the capacity of 400 young candidates ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He commended the movement for initiating a platform where youths could be equipped and empowered to contest elections.
He said that the greatest challenge in the world was how to help young people to find their way, adding that the conference was, therefore, on point.
According to him, youths are the class of 2019 leaders who will change the narrative of governance in Nigeria.
He said: “The challenge is not just to get elected; the challenge now is for the class of 2019 to change the democracy of Nigeria forever.
“Here is how you do it, together. This nation needs all your lives and all your priorities to come together.
“But I got bad news for you all, you won’t all win elections the first time, neither did Abraham Lincoln, neither did President Buhari, but you have all taken a step that you would never take back.
“You have come together, this is the class of 2019, you have it in your power to keep the relationships you got this day alive, to help each other and then help the nation.”
Symington said that there was a growing discussion about lifting people out of poverty, adding, “I have never seen anyone lift someone out of poverty”.
He said: “The only way that happens is to take the decision and rise out of poverty.”
He said that people in office should ensure that money meant for projects were utilised for that purpose and not stolen.
The US envoy urged youths to deliberately help each other to win, adding that power was not given but taken.
He also said that it was not about just taking power but also sharing for the benefit of all.
He assured Nigeria of US continuous support to her democracy, adding that his greatest care was the partnership between the US and Nigeria for all time.
Cynthia Mbamalu, founding member, Not-Too-To-Run Movement, said that Nigeria was witnessing a new wave of competent and credible youths aspiring to run in 2019 with an agenda to provide responsive leadership.
Mbamalu encouraged the candidates to be abreast with the electoral laws so as to use it to claim their rights.
Responding on behalf of the candidates, Zainab Umar, the youngest candidate among them, thanked the group for building the capacity of candidates to have competence courage and character.
Umar, a former SUG vice president of Bayero University, Kano, said that She is the first and youngest candidate to run for State House of Assembly from her constituency in Kano State.
He urged her colleagues to utilise what they learnt during the conference to prove themselves in the 2019 elections.