The ayes have it is old fash­ioned – Rep Dukku

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

Rep A’isha Dukku (APC, Dukku/Nafada Fed Con­stituency) is a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. She was once a min­is­ter of state for ed­u­ca­tion. In this in­ter­view, Dukku shares her ex­pe­ri­ence as a for­mer mem­ber of the fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil and now a leg­is­la­tor. Ex­cerpts:

How is it tran­sit­ing from be­ing a min­is­ter to a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives? It is re­ally what I would say two worlds apart be­cause, be­ing a min­is­ter, you are ap­pointed by pres­i­dent. And you rep­re­sent the Fed­eral Re­pub­lic of Nige­ria as a min­is­ter. As a min­is­ter, you are in charge of pol­icy for­mu­la­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion, and what­ever the gov­ern­ment goes with, is what you are ex­pected to go with hook, line and sinker. You mean no ob­jec­tion? No ob­jec­tion be­cause you are part of that ex­ec­u­tive arm of gov­ern­ment. You can­not make pol­icy and then be seen to be go­ing against that pol­icy. Now, to be in the leg­isla­tive arm of gov­ern­ment, first and fore­most, to get there is a big task be­cause you are deal­ing with your con­stituency. And when you win the elec­tion, you now be­come a leg­is­la­tor and that means you are a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of your peo­ple. Even at then, you have to think the way your peo­ple want you to think. This is in terms of what you are sup­posed to do to them- giv­ing them the right, qual­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and then help­ing them to achieve their own ob­jec­tives as it re­lates to the po­lit­i­cal sce­nario. And un­like in the ex­ec­u­tive arm, in the leg­is­la­ture, you are free to ex­press your­self, you are free to crit­i­cise.

You are free to crit­i­cise even the ex­ec­u­tive?

Yes, giv­ing good con­struc­tive crit­i­cisms is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the leg­is­la­tor. Also, it is your re­spon­si­bil­ity to go for over­sight func­tion to en­sure that poli­cies and bud­getary pro­vi­sions are im­ple­mented.

Can you tell us what re­ally inspired you to go into pol­i­tics?

(Laughs) This is a big ques­tion to ask be­cause com­ing from a Fu­lani back­ground, from an Is­lamic back­ground and as a woman, it’s al­ways dif­fi­cult, very chal­leng­ing, it is a her­culean task, if I may say. But, it is very sim­ple on the other hand, it’s the wish of the peo­ple and that is the virtue of democ­racy. My peo­ple want me as their rep­re­sen­ta­tive and I am here (House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives).

It is dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially in north­ern Nige­ria, to see a woman bat­tling with men for an elec­tive post. What unique thing did you do that en­deared you to your peo­ple?

I think this ques­tion should go to my con­stituents. But I be­lieve that in what­ever ca­pac­ity I have ever been, whether as a teacher, vice prin­ci­pal and an in­spec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion and then a min­is­ter, I al­ways car­ried my peo­ple along. I be­lieve what­ever op­por­tu­nity Al­lah gives me, is an op­por­tu­nity to do good. So, any­where I am, and in what­ever ca­pac­ity, I car­ried my peo­ple along, may be that is what en­deared me to them.

For some ob­vi­ous rea­sons, very few women ex­cel in north­ern Nige­ria. How did you find your way to be where you are to­day?

I am a priv­i­leged girl-child. I came from a hum­ble fam­ily of an ed­u­cated fa­ther who feels that if there is any­body that should go to school, it is the girl. That is what my fa­ther be­lieves in be­cause he says the girl is cre­ated weak, she needs sup­port, care and pro­tec­tion. And when all of these are not there, what hap­pens to her? She be­comes vul­ner­a­ble. And if the fa­ther is not there, you as­sume the hus­band is there, but what if the hus­band is not there? As women, we are sup­posed to com­ple­ment our hus­bands. Is­lam does not want the woman or the girl to be vic­timised in any way. And that is why for a girl to go to school, it has to be close to her home and the school must have pri­vacy, so that there is no way she can be vic­tim­ized.

Did you do some­thing to at­tract women to go to school when you were a min­is­ter?

Yes, the first thing you do as an in­di­vid­ual is to serve as the right role model. Be­ing a model is enough for any girl see­ing you to feel that when I grow up, I want to be like Mama Aisha Dukku. Se­condly, you can also do what we call ‘guid­ance and coun­selling.’ You col­lect a group of girls and en­cour­age them to be them­selves. And how do they be­come them­selves? It is through ac­quir­ing ed­u­ca­tion. We also call this men­tor­ingwe men­tor the girls to know that they are equal to the boys and can even per­form bet­ter than the boys. We en­cour­age them be­cause most of the times, the girls are treated as if they are weaker sib­lings. If you look at the UBE laws, there is a pun­ish­ment for any fa­ther who re­fuses to send his gir­lchild to school.

But we still have mil­lions of par­ents that don’t send their daugh­ters to school.

They refuse be­cause the laws are not im­ple­mented prop­erly.

Some par­ents com­plain that the fa­cil­i­ties you men­tioned to se­cure their girls are not there. Yes, that is true. Does that mean you did not pro­vide the fa­cil­i­ties when you were the min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion?

Of course, I did. We con­structed fenced in many schools and toi­lets for the girls. Many schools were es­tab­lished so that even at the neigh­bour­hood the girl will find a school to at­tend.

How did you feel when you en­tered the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive cham­ber for the first time?

(Laughs) I found my­self in a very strange place and I asked ‘is this the way we are go­ing to seat and con­duct our­selves?’ Then I saw oth­ers sit­ting and I sat. Then the elec­tion of the speaker and the deputy speaker came up. There­after, I saw the speaker hit­ting the gavel… with the ‘ayes’ have it and the ‘nays’ have it. And I felt that this is some­thing that needs to be changed be­cause we are in the 21st Cen­tury. More African coun­tries are now turn­ing to­wards the e-par­lia­ment sys­tem. You vote elec­tron­i­cally, in­stead of say­ing ‘for this mo­tion, say aye and the loud­est have it, whereas may be the nays have the ma­jor­ity. But if it is elec­tronic elec­tion, it is the votes that would be counted. For now, if my bill or my mo­tion is re­jected, based on the high­est noise made, not the high­est num­ber of leg­is­la­tors, it means I am be­ing dis­en­fran­chised.

When you en­tered the cham­bers, did you see other women like you?

Of course, I came from the North-east and we have two fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tives from my state. I and Rep Binta Bello are here. There is Rep As­abe Vilita Bashir from Borno State and Rep khadija Bukar Abba from Yobe State. We also have the only fe­male sen­a­tor from the North-east, Sen­a­tor Binta Masi Garba, from Adamawa State.

This means you are sat­is­fied that women are well rep­re­sented?

No, I am not sat­is­fied at all. This is too lit­tle a num­ber. We need to have more women in the Na­tional Assem­bly be­cause in the 7thAssem­bly, we had more fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

May be they were voted out be­cause they did not per­form well.

Where ever you find women, be it in the leg­is­la­ture or ex­ec­u­tive, they per­form very well. It is not be­cause they didn’t per­form very well but it is be­cause of the male fac­tor. What is the male fac­tor? Where ever the males are, they try to be over bear­ing, whether through le­gal or illegal means. How can that be changed? It must be changed. With the new vot­ing sys­tem and card read­ers in place, things would change.

Rep A'isha Dukku

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