The Federal Government has restated its commitment to strengthening local jewellery production in line with its economic diversification agenda of creation of jobs and growth of small and medium-scale enterprises.
Speaking during the opening of the workshop on the ‘Design of Strategy for the Development of Sustainable Jewellery and Gemstones’ yesterday in Abuja, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, said the programme was the first of its kind organised by the ministry aimed at training Nigerian youths in various aspects of professional jewellery making.
According to him, 40 Nigerian youths selected from the states and the Federal Capital Territory would be trained in various aspects of professional jewellery making.
He further stated that Nigeria is a country traditionally rooted in rock and gemstones’ jewellery-making.
“The Benin bronze jewellery, Hausa/Fulani ornaments, ice, Igbo Ukwu and Nupe jewellery are few examples of the past highly acclaimed artworks of the country,” he said.
Also, he disclosed that, as a follow-up, the government would take the crucial step, as demonstrated in the workshop, to train Nigerians in jewellery design and fabrication so that their output can compete favourably with those imported into the country.
“We have engaged the services of experts to train the trainers and draft policies for the successful implementation of the programme,” he stated.
The minister appealed to all state governments to take up the task of extending and multiplying the development of the skilled workforce in their various jurisdictions by supporting the trained jewellery experts with necessary tools and materials to enable them to train other Nigerians and encourage the setting up of jewellery and lapidary shops and buying centres.
Earlier, the Minister of State, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, said one of the key priorities of the Nigerian government remains the enhancement of the diversification of the economy to a broader range of productive sectors.
“In the context, the agriculture and mining sectors have been identified by the present administration as potential sources of growth for the future. At a higher level, the government’s efforts are focused on accelerating mining investment for resource development to meet the following objectives, capture lateral economy linkages to diversify the economy, job creation (formalizing artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)) and revenue increase (including capturing leakages within the current system).
“Nigeria has always been known to be a jewellery and gemstones’-producing nation. Nigerian gemstones cover the entire spectrum of coloured, semi- and precious varieties, some of them now world-famous, such as rubellite, a pinkish or reddish variety of tourmaline,” the minister said.
A statement signed by Tony Ekpo for the ministry’s director of press said the minister stated further that the ministry believes that, with revived and fully developed gemstone and jewellery industry, Nigeria can easily leverage on her dominant youth population and rich cultural diversity to re-establish once-active trade linkages that will provide jobs, reduce capital flights, increase foreign exchange earnings and generate revenue to the government.