In its continuous effort to curb illegal mining activities, the Federal Government has issued a directive to all illegal miners in the nation, compelling them to promptly evacuate sites, or rather face wrath of the law. The statement was made by Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr. Dele Alake during the graduation ceremony and presentation of starter packs to 30 graduating trainees under Batch 3 of the Ministry’s Programme on ‘Gemstone and Jewellery Master Training and Empowerment’ under the Mineral Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) a project supported by World Bank.
Alake said the skill acquisition programme is an integral facet of President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda, and that the graduation ceremony served as a fulfillment of Tinubu’s campaign pledge to generate massive employment opportunities for the youth. He further commended MinDiver’s effort in enhancing the quality of life for Nigerians through the implementation of rigorous training programs facilitated by experts to impart youngsters with knowledge and skills, enabling them to subsequently train other Nigerians and generate employment. He also noted that the program had already generated 40 Master Jewelers trained between 2021 and 2022.
Nigeria is rich in precious and semiprecious stones.
There will be a faculty of 70 Master Jewellers to teach aspiring jewelers in each of Nigerian 774 local governments. In addition, the Minister encouraged state governments to collaborate with the Ministry by funding the training of at least 10 young people in every local government in order to acquire these lucrative skills. He reassured them that the faculty will be made available to any state willing to equip its youths with technical expertise in solid minerals. He also praised the graduates’ dedication and feeling of responsibility in learning the skills, saying it restores hope in the country’s future.
Given the high demand for jewelry among the mass population in the country, it is important to develop the local jewellery sector to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, enhance domestic production while decreasing its reliance on foreign labour. Nigeria is rich in precious and semiprecious stones, among other minerals. Sapphire, aquamarine, beryl, emerald, tourmaline, ruby, garnet, amethyst, and zircon are some of the most sought-after gemstones in Nigeria. These rare gems, however, are being illegally exported.
All vital resources must be utilized for the benefits of the country.
Furthermore, Alake stated that the ministry is actively developing plans and collaborating with security authorities to establish strategies to combat illegal mining and exports of all essential minerals in the nation. He issued a stern warning to those now involved in illicit mining in Nigeria, saying that things will change dramatically going forward as all vital resources must be utilized for the benefits of the country. As hydrocarbons continue to decline on the international market, its implies that the major contributor to our GDP is on the decline.
The best course of action, he said, is to diversify Nigeria exports away from oil; the country is widely known to possess tremendous mineral resources. Literally, no single state does not have valuable, hard-to-find minerals that are in demand on global markets. Alake lamented that Nigerians had ignored such resources which could possibly have significantly impacted the country’s oil industry. Thus, he called for utmost and compulsory focus on non-oil exports, especially those of solid minerals. This validated the Ministry’s efforts to harness the sector to raise revenue and contribute to GDP.
Focus is on generating value at home and luring investors.
He pointed out that instead of exploration, excavation, and shipping our solid minerals overseas, the focus would be on generating value at home and luring international investors to the field. Foreign investors are welcome to come to our nation, but one of the most important requirements is that they perform backward integration by setting up enterprises and factories that will increase the value of our natural resources here at home, he added. This would lead to an increase in employment opportunities, resources and revenue.