Vacate Site Now, FG Orders Illegal Miners

Vacate Site Now, FG Orders Illegal Miners

The stern warning was given by the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, 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 World Bank assisted project.

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Alake said the skill acquisition programme is part of the ‘Renewed Hope’agenda of President Bola Tinubu, which Tinubu during his presidential campaign promised to create jobs massively for the youth, and this graduation is a fulfilment to it.

He also commended MinDiver for the efforts made so far to add value to the lives of Nigerians via the intensive training which was done by dedicated, experienced and committed experts for the days and weeks spent to transfer the knowledge and skills into young Nigerians who also will in turn train other Nigerians and create jobs for them in all the 774 Local Government Areas of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in order to contribute their quota to the growth and development of the economy.

He also acknowledged that the programme had earlier produced 40 Master Jewellers who were trained between 2021 and 2022, and today (Thursday) additional 30 jewellers are graduating.

He said the pioneer set of 70 Master Jewellers will be a faculty that would train would-be jewellers in the 774 local governments of Nigeria.

However, the Minister called on state governments to partner with the Ministry by sponsoring at least 10 youths per local government for training to acquire this highly profitable skills.

he also assured them that the faculty will be mobilised to any state that is ready to empower their youths to impart their technical knowledge and demonstrate the procedures for using solid minerals to embelish the beauty of our people.

He said: “Looking at the result of this seemingly small but extremely significant gesture of graduating students that have gone through the crucibles of learning the art of skill acquisition.

“It give rebuilds hope for our country Nigeria. I commend your efforts, initiatives, focus, and sense of responsibility. You have gone through the process of skill acquisition in this very critical sector.

“Nigeria with its large population has appetite for jewelry and it is imperative to create a local jewelry industry to meet substantially local demands, for quality jewelry products, to increase import substitution, create jobs and boost the export value of Nigeria’s gemstones and jewellery.

“Nigeria is abundantly blessed with variety of mineral resources, among the minerals identified are varieties of precious and semi-precious stones. Some of the most popular Nigeria gemstones include the more limited to sapphire, aquamarine, beryl, emerald, tourmaline, ruby, garnet, amethyst , and zircon, which are located across the length and breadth of Nigeria and are used during to adorn designs but are sadly illegal exported.

“Now let me use this opportunity to send a very stern and strong warning to the entire nation that with Mr President there is a new sheriff in town and illegal mining would be curbed.

“Illegal exportation of our gemstones, critical minerals would no longer be tolerated by this administration.

“My Ministry is currently putting in place strategies, tactics and logistics, and we are working very assiduously and closely with the security agencies with the view of designing a very solid and enduring formula for combating illegal mining and illegal exportation of all our critical minerals in this country. In due course the details would be unfolded to the public. But I am just using this opportunity to send a strong warning to those currently engaged in illegal mining in Nigeria that henceforth it would be no longer be business as usual.

“We must harness all our critical resources for the benefits of our nation. Today, it is a known fact all over the world that hydrocarbons are on the downward trend in the global international trade meaning all that are contingent to our development, GDP substantially is no longer what it used to beans is on the decline.

So what do we do? We have to shift attention to non-oil exports, and believe me, Nigeria is sitting on one of the most enormous amount of mineral resources in the world. There is virtually there is no state that does not have one mineral resources or the other that is sought after in the global international market.

He also lamented that Nigerians have neglected these resources that would have tremendously transformed the economy for oil.

“Necessarily and compulsorily attention is now focused on the non-oi exports, particularly, solid minerals and that is why the Ministry is now the focal point of generating substantial revenue and making contribution to the GDP of our country.”

He further stated, “In fact, I say with all emphasis, I say with all sense of responsibility that solid Minerals is the next petroleum in Nigeria and that underscores the significance of today’s occasion.

He added that, “We are not going to be exporting, exploring, excavating and carting away our solid minerals abroad.

“We are going to be adding local value and we are going to attract foreign investors into this industry and sector.

“However, one of the salient conditions is going to be that the foreign investors will not just come and excavate our resources and minerals away, they must also do backward integration in terms of establishing the industries and factories that would add local value to our natural resources before been taken out and that would create more jobs, resources and revenue that is our main objectives of this Ministry moving ahead.”

He also pointed out that, “The value of gemstones increases when it is cut and polished, however, majority of gemstones are being exported without any value addition since the technical know-how and machinery required in cutting, polishing and finishing jewelry are generally lacking in the country.

To bridge these gaps it became necessary to build capacity in jewelry making and design and that capacity would be extended to other mineral resources like gold, lithium and all other critical mineral resources that we have in abundance in our nation.”

Meanwhile, the Minister acknowledged the supportive role played by the MinDiver Project in galvanizing the sector, “Accordingly, the Ministry through a roadmap for the development of Nigeria’s mineral resources and the MinDiver Project has been supportive in its implementation as part of its efforts and facilitating downstream development aimed at enhancing value addition to mineral products.

“This Master training on jewelry and design is one of such initiatives. With the intensive jewelry making Programme and the startup kits you are receiving today, you have all it takes to make the sector proud, become job creators, facilitate small and medium scale enterprises on the jewelry industry value chain.

He also counseled the graduands, “As beneficiaries of this initiative, I enjoin you to form the new multitude of jewellers who will create spectacular products with great aesthetics of commercial value of the mineral resources available in Nigeria for jewelry making. Let me congratulate all of you for successfully completing this Master training.

“I urge you on behalf of the President and all Nigerians to work very hard to achieve the aims and objectives of this Programme as the industry is versatile and has a great future for Nigeria.”

He also expressed optimism that with the jewelry industry there will be significant growth of the economy by creating massive job opportunities along its value chain, increase standard of living, unlock creativity, and provide opportunity for import substitution.

He maintained that Nigeria has no business of importing jewelries based on the products of the graduands, and can be exported, which also can compete globally.

He added that the Tinubu-led administration is going to change the trajectory of the industry therefore making it a major foreign exchange revenue earner and significantly contribute to the GDP.

He said all illegal mining activities must stop, and called for every Nigerian to support what government is doing to change the narrative.

Earlier, in an address of welcome, the Project Coordinator, MinDiver, Engr Sallim Salaam, said value addition has been a critical aspect of solid minerals sector.

Salaam said with the support of the World Bank through the MinDiver Project graciously approved additional 30 trainees which are the graduands passing out of the intensive training on gemstone jewelry production apart from the initiative 41 that was trained which were drawn from all the States in the country.

He said the 30 graduands are to be awarded their certificates upon completion of their training including their starter packs, wherefore they will proceed to train more people with support by their State Governments so that there will be a multiplier effect.

“Nowadays, certificate alone cannot help in this country. What we are doing in the Ministry with the support of the management of the Ministry is to make sure that we spread the gospel of value addition in all aspects of mining endeavour”, he said.

He also commended the Minister and Permanent Secretary for their support and believing in the project, and added that the consultants have done enormously.

He also urged graduands not to ‘Japa’ after acquiring this knowledge and skills.

Also, in a goodwill message, the President, Women In Mining, Nigeria, WIMN, Hon Janet Adeyemi, commended the impact of the training on gemstones jewelry production, especially women inclusion, and the support of the Ministry.

The Class Rep of Batch 3 trainees, Emmanuel Emeka, on behalf of his colleagues appreciated the Ministry for initiating the programme as it has paved way for them to be trained with world class skills.

Emeka also commended the World Bank through the MinDiver Project for sponsorship of the programme, which has equipped them ahead in the industry, and promised to sustain the skills acquired and assured that they will use the opportunity optimally.


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