Iyabo Adebisi | Radio Nigeria Ibadan
Federal Government has inaugurated the first international gemstone market in Nigeria, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The International Gemstone Market under the economic sustainability plan of the federal government is situated at Ojoo in the Akinyele Local Government Area of the state.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite said the project was in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to anchor his economic diversification agenda on two key sectors of Mining and Agriculture.
According to him, the ministry designed six strategic artisanal and small-scale mining, ASM, Cluster Projects in the six geopolitical zones.
He said the choice of Ibadan as a location for the International Gemstone Market is predicated on the rich deposits of gemstones in the zone.
Mr Adegbite noted that the International Gemstone Market in Ibadan for the Southwest Zone would create employment and wealth for the country.
On the sustainability of the place, Architect Adegbite stated that the market would be sustained beyond this administration as it would be run by the ministry.
The minister commended the Oyo State government for the donation of the land on which the market was sited.
He said: “These landmark projects are to create an enabling environment to support the Mining Industry through the formalization of the ASM Sub-sector as a major driver of the key growth parameters to engender the development of the Mining Sector since over 90% of the Mining activities in the country could safely be said to be ASM driven.”
“Over the years, a thriving informal gemstone market has evolved in Ibadan. The informal nature of the market gave credence to poorly regulated trading of mostly unprocessed gemstones, leading to capital flights and job losses. It is in a bid to leverage on this long-standing trading experience that the decision to establish the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Cluster International Gemstone Market in Ibadan for the Southwest Zone was mooted”.
“This event has again provided an opportunity to highlight the efforts of the administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to open some of the potentials available in the Mining Sector to serve as an alternative revenue source”.
“The concept of the International Gemstone Market was a crafted policy to spur job creation and capacity development of gemstones mining operators in Oyo State and environs, through the Economic Growth and Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government”.
“This project houses several Federal Government initiatives geared towards curbing smuggling of gemstones and other minerals as well as the development of the capacities of our teaming youths to actively participate in downstream gemstone and gold value chain”.
“It will interest you to note that this project is designed based on the cluster concept which has become a global trend in industrial development to promote shared amenities, agglomeration of similar producers, customers etc. based on geographical proximity and mineral endowment of rare metals and gemstone pegmatites (whose belt trend from Wamba, near Jos, in North Central Nigeria to Ago-Iwoye area in the southwest, Oyo State) or access to complementary expertise to promote efficiency and increase specialization and production.”
“Some of the notable envisaged outcomes from the International Gemstone Market include but are not limited to the following:
Creation of over 20,000 jobs along the gemstone mining value chain in South-Western Zone cluster; Improved revenue generation from ASM subsector for both operators and government.”
Inaugurating the project, Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde who was represented by the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Seun Ashamu lauded the federal government for the initiative.
Governor Makinde said his administration has designated solid minerals as a sector to grow the economy between 2023-2027 under the Omitutun 2.0 manifesto of sustainability.
The governor called on residents of the state and stakeholders in the gemstones market in the state to follow laid down rules.
In a message, the acting president of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Musa Mohammed who spoke through the Secretary, Dele Ayanleke commended different federal government’s efforts in the mining sector, appealing for facilitation of equipment leasing for members at various operation clusters.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, had intimated that the project was part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to boost the value-chain of the Minerals and Metals Sector and to cushion the effects of the pandemic on our artisanal and small miners in the country.
The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of Mining equipment to mining cooperatives by the minister, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite.