The Federal Government has inaugurated first international gemstone market in Nigeria, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Intenational Gemstone market under the economic sustainability plan of the federal government is situated at Ojoo Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite said the project was in line with the President 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 gemstone in the zone.
Adegbite, who 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, Adegbite stated that the market would be sustained beyond this administration as it would be run by the ministry.
The minister commended 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 formalisation 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 rooted.
“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 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 development of the capacities of our teaming youth 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 specialisation and production.
“Some of the notable envisaged outcomes from the International Gemstone Market includes but not limited to the followings: 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,” the statement added.
Inaugurating the project, Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde who was represented by the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Seun Ashamu lauded federal government for the initiative.
Makinde said his administration between 2023-2027, under Omitutun 2.0 manifestoes sustainability has designed solid mineral as a sector to grow the economy.
He, therefore, 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 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 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.
In the meantime, highlights of the ceremony was the presentation of mining equipment to mining cooperatives by the minister, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite.