The Federal Government said it has started putting measures in place to ensure Nigeria becomes a gemstone and jewellery hub in no distant time.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, during the graduation ceremony of the first batch (21 graduands) of the gemstone and jewellery-making trainees of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) over the weekend.
According to him, the seven months’ training was a part of the Federal Government’s efforts at discouraging the exportation of raw ore and ensuring that whatever is produced in the country is also processed in Nigeria, adding that this would create jobs and wealth for the youth.
On the essence of the programme, he said; “This programme was designed to impart knowledge to you so that we can make jewellery in Nigeria. We are going to retain our gold and gemstones in Nigeria, add value to them, sell to our people and export to other countries.”
He added that Nigeria will soon be a gemstone and jewellery destination for other countries and, in no distant time, export finished jewellery which would increase the sector’s contribution to the GDP.
The minister said the trainees would feed into the gold souk and the gemstone markets being constructed in Kano and Ibadan, respectively.
While addressing the graduands, Adegbite charged them to impart the knowledge they have acquired to others in their communities. “The best gift you can impart to anyone is knowledge and this is what you have been endowed with. What you have acquired in the last seven (7) months is to help yourselves be engaged meaningfully and fruitfully. More importantly, [it is] to help this country to move forward, create employment and combat youth restiveness.
“You will not be cast adrift. We are working with your state governments to provide space where you can operate while we empower you with equipment and materials to practice your skills,” Adegbite further assured them as he disclosed that the second phase of the training is ongoing.
In his opening remarks, the project coordinator, Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) project, Engr. Salim Salaam appreciated the commitment and support of the leadership of the ministry which he believed culminated in the success of the project.
He commended the doggedness of the 21 participants of the first batch of the training for staying through to the end. He further disclosed that there are plans for advanced training for the graduands and would be communicated to them in due course.
The senior technical adviser, MINDIVER project, Mr. Linus Adie in his closing remarks, stated that in the next few years, the minister will look back and be very proud that he put in all his energy to ensure that the ministry and MINDIVER see the programme become reality.
Adie said he was happy to be “part and parcel” of the project, especially given how the minister made it what it is today. Also, he congratulated the honourable minister for the award to the Mining Cadastre Office last week. “We are very proud that it is the activities of the MINDIVER that led to the award for Mining Cadestra. We do not doubt that you will continue to lead us to any height we wish to attain.” He said the essence of the programme is for Nigerians to stop buying jewellery abroad.
A statement by the ministry’s director of press signed by Tony Ekpo said one of the graduands from Edo State, Jessica Ogievaz, who spoke on behalf of her classmate, said they have learnt skills and knowledge throughout the programme and, as first beneficiaries, are aware that it is their responsibility to show what they have learnt. She hoped that, with good empowerment, they will be able to strengthen the local jewellery sector, which is the goal of the project.