Arese Carrington, the widow of a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, late Walter Carrington, has charged Nigerian youths to defend the future of the country with their votes at the forthcoming 2023 general election and stop being bystanders.
She said this at the second Ambassador Walter Carrington Annual Symposium with the theme, “Rethinking Youth Engagement for National Development” held in Lagos on Thursday.
Arese urged the youths to believe in their future and the values her late husband cherished.
She said, “Youth engagement is important in nation building. Social justice, environmental justice and a better future for the youth are issues you should engage in. Elections are about the future. Defend the future of the country by casting your vote and becoming a participant not a bystander. You have strength, you have character. Believe the best is yet to come. You should be involved in decisions that affect your future because the future belongs to you.”
Arese also noted the late Ambassador’s legacies had been manifested through the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative.
She said, “The Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative (CYFI) tries to address some of these challenges through its programmes by effecting positive change in Nigeria and globally through projects they develop and implement in various fields such as civil liberties, education, public health, university outreach and vocational training. The fellows and alumni through their programs have become a beacon of light in the communities they serve and beyond. Through CYFI programs Carrington’s legacies are being manifested and will continue to be manifested as the number of fellows continue to multiply.”
The Lead Pastor, Trinity House Church, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, said the only choice the youths have was to vote for a presidential candidate that would represent the national interest.
He said, “The youths should have started a long time ago, especially when they were seeming to get organized. They should have decided who they wanted. They did not know how powerful they are but now they know. They should just gather themselves together and decide who they want.
“There are sixteen people that have presented themselves and we did not have much of a choice in deciding who those sixteen were because thay have a congress system. Out of that 16, one of them would be better than the rest. So, they should analyse the 16, evaluate them and decide who they think is the best who can lead Nigeria right.”
Oyo State Commissioner for Youth and Sport, Seun Fakorede, who was also a panelist urged the youths to be engaged at the grassroots level.
He said, “More than ever before we need such a programme like this because we need to recalibrate the mindset of our youths and they need to see it in such a way that all these things about youth empowerment and youth engagement is not rocket science. It is something that we need to get involved at the lowest level. The grassroots is principal in this discussion. So, I encourage a number of youths to step up and get involved.”
The president, Nigeria Youth Congress, Blessing Akinlosotu, said the government should do more in engaging the younger generations.
He said, “Youth engagements should be taken very seriously. The younger generations are becoming too agitated. The youths should try as much as possible to learn more and ask questions. The government should do more in engaging the younger generations and we need to try to make them believe in this country. The best way they can believe is to engage them positively.”