By Ishola Oluwole
Newspaper interview in which Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe unfolded her plan to return to the Senate to represent her Federal Capital Territory (FCT) District makes an interesting reading. It is a worthwhile bid, going by the argument she canvassed after being away from the scene for about 15 years now, and l took two things away from the expository interview. One, although operating on the political terrain where you do not have too many women showing interest, Khairat spoke with the confidence of a politician who has a clear understanding of the essence of the parliament in a democratic setting. To her, for our democracy to grow, we must take deliberate steps to strengthen the legislature.
Two, the interview exposed her passion for good representation of her people at the FCT so that dividends of democracy can be adequately served. She spoke of her experience at the Senate between 1999 and 2003 and concluded that parliamentary representation is not a tea party affair as a lawmaker must always strive not only to make the difference in the lives of his constituents but also make impact on the national scene.
Coming from the background of her determination to uplift her people after decades of successive military administrations in the country that were neither answerable to no one nor accountable to the people, Khairat resolved from her first day in the Senate to align with those who will, like her, operate based on principle, to build the independence of the National Assembly.
She narrated: “One thing in the Senate, in the very early stage, that shocked me into understanding that this place is about knowing how to lobby your fellow people, and not assuming that everybody is going to see things with you the same way, was when we were filling our biodata. In one place, they left space for four children’s names and, as I was filling, I could hear one of my fellow senators saying: ‘distinguished, there are not enough lines here for us’. And one other fellow asked, ‘how many children do you have?’ He replied, ‘I have 13’. Another senator said, ‘I have 26’. So, I turned my head just to see the faces of those who had this number of kids. What I took away from that was that I had to map my people there. If I needed something to be done in a particular way, I knew the people who will stick with it and those who will not and I realized that the number of children you had and that you’re taking care of will determine your strength in holding onto a bargain or a position on any issue. And that helped me throughout my tenure in that place”. She added, “The point is that when people have too many baggage – and we are all getting the same pay – you find it difficult to stick to principles when the heat comes because the first consideration for most (not all) would be that, well, this would be a way of solving part of their problem. Some of us who did not have many children still had to support people – those who had school fees to pay and all that. These were the kinds of things that came to play when the executive needed voices to disrupt the legislative arm. These were a few things I picked up very early”.
Khadirat apparently believes the cause of democracy is not served when a lawmaker chooses to be an accomplice when the executive arm of government needs voices to undermine the legislative arm, and that defined her four-year tenure then at the Senate. On the representation of the FCT at the National Assembly, she was aghast to hear from the constituents during a function that, since her time at the Senate, those who had been representing the District never reported back to the people. Her words: “So, I had to ask ‘you mean your politics here is that bad, that you are no longer recognized? What is the problem?’ So, they explained that one, the people representing them don’t come back after they are elected. So, I felt that we have to have better representation. Politics must be better. If it is the quality of representation that is causing this, then I’m ready to run”. Yes, politics must be better. And Khairat’s solid educational background, passion for good governance and detribalised disposition predispose her to delivering quality representation not only to the FCT but also the nation at large. I support her bid to run for the Senate.Read Full Story