I'M NOT INTIMIDATED BY MALE OPPONENTS — HADIZA BALA USMAN
It's not easy for women in this part of the country to survive in political waters. What actually inspired you to decide to vie for a seat in the House of Reps and what difference do you think you can make?
The fact that you do not see us coming out to participate in politics and even contest elections does not mean that we do not have the capacity or ability to do so. But I feel it's time for us to show who we are and what we can do. When you look at our census figures, you will see that there are more women compared to men, but somehow our women do not make it to decision making positions.
But I'm proud that my great grandfather the Emir of Katsina, Dikko, was one of the first people in the North to create a secondary school for women. That signified the desire of our leaders in Katsina to have women to take up positions of responsibility and help build the society.
Secondly, in my career, I have had reasons to interact with development partners and I feel there's a lot I can bring on the table for the development of my state. I am passionate about the development of Katsina state in particular and Nigeria in general. If you look at the state of development of northern states, somehow there's a gap between where we are and where we should be. Therefore I feel I have something to add in that area.
Why did you decide to join the opposition CPC and not the ruling PDP?
Yes, I chose to run on the platform of CPC because I believe on the party's ideology and all that it stands for. When you look at the calibre of people in CPC from its leader General Buhari, you will understand what I am saying. Nigeria is presently faced with a lot of challenges that relates to corruption and indiscipline, and that is a fight that Buhari had pioneered before. I believe that he is a person that can take us to a level where Nigeria can achieve and actualize its dreams.
I believe in him (Buhari) and the ideology of the party, and that is why I decided to join the CPC. Indeed I've worked a lot with the PDP government through my career, but I've reached a point where I should look at individuals and say this person can deliver our needs.
Again, taking a decision in politics requires one to assess the current of the moment and where you can fit in terms of ideology. I had my PDP registration before. But approaching my Musawa/Matazu constituency, I decided to go for CPC this time.
But a lot of people will find it difficult to believe that the wife of a highly placed PDP member such as Tanimu Yakubu, will choose to join an opposition party.
Well, definitely, my husband is a PDP member. But I will like to take you through history to clarify the fact that it has happened before in our family. It's not a new thing. For instance, my father, Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, had been in PRP continuously while his father and his family were in the NPN. My husband himself was in PRP while his father and his family were in the NPN. So it's not something new in the sense that both of us come from families where people differ in ideology and are still able to live together in strong ties.
So being together as husband and wife does not mean that we have to follow the same ideology. Therefore, for me, it's a great step in the sense that our families had political differences which did stop them from being together as a family. What happened in my father's history is what is happening in my family right now. I am a card carrying member of CPC and Tanimu is in PDP. In fact, in my upbringing I am used to situations where we agree and disagree.
I worked in a privatization agency and my father was opposed to privatization because as you know, it's the capitalist economy that derives privatization and he (Bala Usman) was a socialist.
He always told me that he didn't believe we should not privatize utilities and all that. Whenever we met he had literature to defend his position and I had mine to defend privatization. It was always an interesting intellectual discussion; it was a question of who had a superior argument on a particular matter. So for me, there's no tension; it is the question of going after what you believe in.
What sort of support do you get from your husband as well as your extended family members in this project?
Truly, I wouldn't have been in this without my husband's support. Fortunately, he promotes the need for women to actualize their potentials. In fact whoever knows him knows that he has a passion for women's development and has been consistent in that. So he has been supportive of me, even though he is in the PDP. In our relationship as husband and wife, he is always there for me and in the politics he is in the PDP. As for my extended family, they have been equally very supportive. My brother (Attahiru) has been there to guide me. Yes, it has been murky and people have had reservation of course. But I must admit I face some challenges. People say I am a woman and some talk about my age.
People say oh! You are a woman; you just got married and so on, but while they are voicing their opinion, we have a counter argument: OH NO! it's indeed time, I am 34 for God's sake, people were heads of state at a lesser age. So I think, it's the Nigerian perspective that make people think, oh you are too young to do something, or the perception that you are a woman therefore you cannot do this or that. But we have women that are Presidents in other countries and they have performed wonderfully. So it's absurd to see some interest is generated because a woman is contesting for a position in Katsina.
We have schools and we put our daughters in those schools to educate them, therefore at some point we should expect them to rise and take up the positions of leadership. That is inevitable.
You are contesting against the incumbent Dr. Shehu Matazu. Do yo really think you stand any chance?
If you want anything in your life, you must also realize that someone else want it. You also have to realize that you are going for a battle and have to be prepared for it. For me and my party, CPC, we stand for ideology and we believe in convincing people to vote for change. Therefore, I am prepared for what I have chosen to do in Musawa/Matazu federal constituency. It's something I have to do because we cannot sit back and allow what is happening to continue because of the fear of the incumbents or the perceived strength of other people that want the position. We can't also sit back and say, we are too afraid to delve into it because some sort of environment has been created. I, personally, and my party do not believe in thuggery or in buying votes. We believe in appealing to the conscience of the people to see us as the set of people that will actualize their dreams for better governance. In any case, we are not going to be intimidated.