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By Gabriel Ewepu

IN a bid to tackle youth unemployment and to boost economic activities, the Federal Government, Monday, flagged off training of 45 youths in jewelry and gemstone production.

The flag off was done by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, in Abuja.

Adegbite in his keynote address at the ‘Workshop on Design of Strategy for the Development of Sustainable Jewelry and Gemstone Industry in Nigeria said the 45 youths were selected based on Ministers’ recommendation from the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. 

He also explained that after the training, trainees will be transformed into full fledged entrepreneurs who will also train and employ other young people.

Meanwhile, he made it known that the Nigeria  mining code regulations have provided good instrument for regulating development of the skilled workforce in their various jurisdictions by supporting the train ‘master jewelry expert’ with necessary tools and material that will enable them to train other Nigerians.

The training programme is organised by the Ministry, in conjunction with the MinDiver, a World Bank project for the sector.

He said: “We have a total of 45 youths because we are supposed to select based on states and I decided it was the best to give each minister a chance to select somebody from their states because the Ministers position is a reflection of the States in a country.

“There are 43 Ministers and also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Chief of Staff, and that is what makes of the 45 people and each person has one nomination, that is how it came about.

“We have engaged the services of experts to train the trainees and craft policy for the successful implementation of the programme.

“A key strategy for a successful gemstone is the establishment of a gemological laboratory. The gem lab will test gemstones and jewelry trade and market. The laboratory plays a critical role in accessing the quality and value of gemstones.

“This is essential to the growing ethical use of plastics in the industry. The laboratory provides certificates of value to end customers, the gem lab those used in gemstone research, like jewelry comply with international best practices in mining and fair business principle in the gemstone and jewelry industry.

“This is entrepreneurship training, we are training these people to be employers of labour, and the materials are here to give them a skill.

“When you match the skill with the materials, you have an entrepreneur. It is going to impact very well and what we are doing is beyond just training these people, we want them to be trainers for other people.

“We are going to support them in collaboration with State government, so that they can establish a cluster and train other people as well to have a multiplier effect.”

However, according to him, the jewelry industry can contribute significantly to national economic growth and also contribute to over $100 million for import substitution.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, in a welcome address maintained that government is doing all to unlock the nation’s solid minerals sector despite challenges facing the sector.

Ogah also pointed that Nigeria has always been known to be a jewelry and gemstone producing nation, and explained why the workshop has become imperative at this point.

“This workshop is intended to develop a working document that will guide government in development of sustainable gems and jewelry industry Nigeria covering laws, education exploration, licensing and import export, global market policies trading security promotion, taxation finance, pricing, partnership, and others.

 “Nigerian gemstone covers the entire spectrum of colour semi and precious varieties, some of them with a status of world famous such relight a pinkish, reddish Tourmaline species.

“However, Nigerian miners usually lacked knowledge and skill in identifying and estimating rough gemstones and for need of fast cash or selling their product directly at mindset to locally and foreign traders without knowing their real value.

“This situation aggravated by the lack of gemstone processing facilities, including cut and polishing led to an uncontrolled flow of growth to predominantly Asian hub.

“It is for the reason that the Ministry roadmap for growth and development of the mineral sector recommend the revival and development of the gemstone and jewelry industry with a focus on design that will reflect the country’s rich cultural identity.

“The Ministry believes that with the revived and fully developed gemstone and jewelry industry Nigeria can easily leverage on her dominant youth population and rich cultural diversity to establish the once active linkages that will provide jobs, reduce capital flight, increase foreign exchange and generate revenue for the government.”

Meanwhile, one of the trainees from Katsina State, Nasiru Aliyu, appreciated the fact that he was one of those to be part of the training, and that with the capacity building there will be positive impact on Nigeria’s jewelry and gemstone industry.

“This programme will add value to me because I am going to have a precise cut of some polishing, processing, soldering and some finishing touches that the training has provided, and it is all free.”

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