The Federal Government on Thursday expressed commitment to eliminate illegal mining and empowered 30 master jeweller trainees to create job opportunities.
The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mr Dele Alake, said this in Abuja during the graduation and presentation of starter packs to graduands of the third batch of jewelry-making training.
The programme was organised by the ministry in conjunction with the World Bank Assisted Mindiver Project.
According to Alake, the Federal Government, through the ministry, reiterates its commitment and determination to eliminate illegal mining with the effective collaboration of security agencies.
“The menace of illegal mining that has eroded and deprived the country of substantial revenue will be nipped in the bud under the political will and firmness of the administration of President Bola Tinubu.
“It will no longer be business as usual, no matter the identity of whoever is involved in this economic crime, as the ministry will work with other relevant agencies to tackle the menace.
Alake said the effort by the ministry to train the 30 master jewellers was a strong capacity-building support for economic diversification project.
He said that master jewellers were highly skilled artisans who design and create jewelry, saying Nigerians have no business going abroad to buy jewelry in view of its large potential to contribute immensely to jewelry-making global market.
“The solid minerals sector is the focal point of generating revenue for the country. It is now the next petroleum of Nigeria.
“It is a known fact that Nigeria, with its large population, has a huge potential for jewelry. It is imperative to create a local jewelry industry that will substantially meet local demand for jewelry products.
“The local jewelry industry will also increase import substitution, create jobs and boost the export value of Nigeria’s gemstones and jewellery,” he said.
The minister congratulated the graduands for completing the programme successfully.
According to him, “it is my belief that the Jewelry industry, when fully harnessed, could contribute significantly to national economic growth by creating massive job opportunities.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Mary Ogbe, commended the minister for his most valuable support for the completion of the empowerment project within his short time in the ministry.
Ogbe was represented by Director, Human Resource Management Department in the ministry, Mr Mohammed Suleiman.
The Project Coordinator (Mindiver), Mr Sallim Salaam, said that the policy on value addition has been prioritised by the ministry, adding that jewelry making was part of the strategies for implementing the downstream value addition policy.