6 QUESTIONS TO Mr. Idriss Maiga on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Posted by: on Dec 21, 2015 | No Comments

On the 3rd December- International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Maiga attended the Conference “Leave No one behind: tackling inequalities of persons with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”organized by EDF the European Commission and IDDC.

He came to discuss, along with other panellists, how the international cooperation of the EU could help foster inclusion and give us an insight more particularly on the participation of Civil Society Organisations and Disabled People’s Organisations on the implementation of inclusive development cooperation.
On this occasion, we have asked him a few questions.

Mr. Idriss Maiga Alzouma comes from Niger and was born in Niamey on the 10 May 1973. He is the vice chair of the African Disability Forum [ADF] which held its first General Assembly on 31st October-1st November 2015. He is also the President of the West African Federation of Persons with Disabilities and the head of the Nigerian Federation of Persons with disabilities since December 2009. Mr. Maiga studied at the National School of Administration and holds a diploma in Accounting and Management. He recently completed a postgraduate in Taxation. Since 2015, he is head tax inspector for the Taxation General Directorate and head of the tax center of Tillaberi, located a hundreds kilometers away from Niamey.

Today is the 3rd of December International Day of Persons with Disabilities: why does it remain essential to mark the date?
It is a day where all eyes are on persons with disabilities. It is a day where we make an assessment of where are we, what does need to be done, what are the remaining the challenges ahead. Most importantly, a day where we all stakeholders involved can exchange on strategies and discuss solutions to tackle the barriers and challenges persons with disabilities are still too often confronted to.

How do you do in Niger or as the Federation to make a difference?
For us this day creates a unique opportunity to gather together, to be focus on persons with disabilities and to thus mobilize all the actors at local and national level and to call for the attention of authorities. It is a day where we ask the various actors at all level to contribute to awareness-raising and help us in getting our messages up to the decision makers’ level.

In coming to Brussels for this specific event, what were your expectations?
Coming here, my first aim was to listen to others. In Niger, we have the tendency to think all is going well for persons with disabilities in Europe, that States are well ahead and therefore we assume the rights of persons with disabilities are better promoted and better protected. I wanted to listen and learn how it was made possible.
Often though, during those discussions, we realize that actually challenges are the same. The EU has also its problems and difficulties in making the society inclusive of persons with disabilities. This therefore, according, to me calls for joining effort. Indeed, if we are sharing challenges, we should also try to share solutions. We have to stop thinking only about the negative sight only and strengthen and promote what works.
It is important to stand together, exchange on strategies that have proven effective for the call for inclusion to be listened by decision makers and for persons with disabilities to be taken into consideration by decision makers, in countries individually but also inside the EU as an institution.

According to you, what would be the top three priorities for the EU’s international cooperation to be inclusive?
I came to say to EU that helping Africa through international aid is indispensable but also to urge them to, in delivering aid, always have an eye on disability issues. If the EU is to support one of our countries in Africa, one of the conditionality must be for the recipient country to address the issue of disability. If there is support for a country that would be of for instance one milliard Euros then, it should be planned for at least 10% of this budget to be devoted to fostering inclusion. It  is needed to point out specifically disability to make sure it is counted in. As long as the EU and its individual members’ states do not say it expressly, our countries will continue opposing the argument that they have their priorities. They will argue they need to first focus on children or women for instance meaning then that persons with disabilities are systematically forgotten.

The new 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals are now inclusive; how do you see this will influence positively what will be decided tomorrow? What are your hopes with this framework?
From an African perspective, I am really glad. Indeed, the past Millennium Development Goals did not think of us at all. This new framework marks therefore a significant step forward. It makes clear the question of disability must be included.
This being said I remember that once we had UNCRPD we also celebrated and applauded. However, in reality, at the level of implementation, in our countries, not much has been done. States have been hiding behind the lack of means but for me it is clear there is also often a lack of will. We therefore hope for this framework that the political commitment and willingness that have been expressed will remain strong. Our states as much as those helping them to develop need to remind they have agreed with this new framework to “Leva no one behind”: persons with disabilities need to be included.

What is the message you would like to share with our readers?
First I want to thanks our partners, those that believe in the cause. I want also to thanks all those organizations working under the umbrella of the International Development and Disability Consortium as they have been supportive all along the way and they do believe in the potentialities of persons with disabilities.
I also wish for the new African Disability Forum [ADF] to help us standing strong and have the strength to go ahead. I call on those supporting the various individual entities to also support ADF in the role it should be playing. All the efforts must converge in order to get all persons with disabilities in Africa speaking with a unique voice. I therefore hope the EU and EDF will mobilize themselves to truly accompany and support ADF for the happiness of all persons with disabilities in Africa.