People never used to talk about the contracts with France’s AREVA in terms of Niger’s uranium, but in terms of Niger’s defence agreements with France. It was taboo to talk about our uranium. Everything was done behind closed doors – it was a deal between the government and the company, kept secret from the people. Transparency allows us as a society to play our role as a watchdog; obviously it won’t solve everything but it gives us the means to pursue our work.
Things have changed now. People talk about uranium in the streets, people talk about uranium every day. Today I see Nigeriens negotiate publicly, they are talking to AREVA to change the prices, to change the contracts. Of course it wasn’t always like that, we lived through some really tough times. We were being threatened and attacked for our work. Our colleagues were being taken from the streets of Niamey. It was up to us to fight to bring them back.
What motivates me day to day is when people tell you, “I think you are doing a great job”. It gives you the impression that you are doing something that is useful to the community , that you are working for specific objectives. You feel you have been conferred a noble mission. Despite the failures and obstacles, when you see a list of what you have achieved you get the feeling that a lot has been done.
For more on what motivates me and the situation in Niger, read my op-ed in the Guardian: Despite the threats, I will not stop fighting for Niger