By Suzan Edeh
Hon. Rifkatu Danna representing Bogoro constituency, is the only female member of the Bauchi State House of Assembly. Few months ago she was suspended from the House following allegations of uncomplimentary remarks said to have been made by her over the relocation of Tafawa-Balewa council and district headquarters from Tafawa Balewa town to Bununu.
In this interview the female lawmaker opens up on the issues and circumstances behind her actions and the price she is paying. Excerpts:
DO you think your colleagues were fair to you on your suspension?
To be frank I do not know why they took that rash decision. I don’t know whether it was based on the constitution or something else. I don’t know what actually influenced that decision, but I was really unfairly treated.
Do you think your fate could dither other females from embracing politics?
The development has already scared women in the state but I feel women are not silent about the issue. It is just that it is bigger than they can handle and the current insecurity in the state has hindered them from reacting to the matter. Many women organizations in the state have asked me what I intend to do about it. Some told me that they would demonstrate but I asked them not to do so because I am a loyal member of my party [PDP].
Is it true that your colleagues asked you to write an apology letter over your utterances?
I want people to know that my utterances during the motion for the relocation of the headquarters of Tafawa Balewa were not against the rules of the House. Legislators are there to make laws for the upliftment of the people of the state.
We are not there to work for a particular tribe, religion or area but we are to make laws that will better the lives of the people. I am surprised why for the past two months, the matter is yet to be resolved. I recently visited the House after my suspension to greet my colleagues only for the speaker to ask me to leave or I would be ejected by the police. So I left in astonishment.
Now that you have been out of the Assembly for more than two months, what are you going to do?
It is even more than two months now. But I want to tell you that I have tendered my apology verbally to the house over my purported irritating statement. But they insisted that I must present a written apology. I did not do that because I know that I have not committed any offence for opposing the motion.
What crime have I committed? Is it because I expressed my opinion about a certain motion or what? Though I am now a suspended member of the House, I feel that they have no right to send me away from the Assembly, because it is the people of my constituency that have the right to recall me and if it is their wish for me to remain in the House, no one has power constitutionally to remove me.
Despite my suspension, the members were still not satisfied and asked me to return all properties of the House in my possession. They also reported me to the party [PDP] and I am now waiting for the party to intervene into the matter urgently. I think they did this to me because I am a woman and I come from the minority tribe in the state.
Why I opposed that motion for the relocation of Tafawa Balewa local government headquarters to Bununu was to protect the interest of my people. I did not say that all members must support me and in a democratic dispensation a law maker has the right to either support or oppose any motion.
What action are you going to take now concerning the issue now?
Yes, the matter is now before the party [PDP] so since both I and the speaker are all under the same party, I believe the party will intervene in the matter. But if it is unable to resolve the matter amicably, I am ready to take the next line of action which is to go to court.
But do you believe that the party will reconcile you?
I think the party as a mother to all of us will summon us in order to resolve the problem. I have not been invited yet by the party but I will respond if I am called upon. I deserve fairness and justice as a woman who is considered a weaker sex.