Dr Saraki, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development in Nigeria said that Nigeria exports gemstones to the tune of $3 billion yearly but with low-revenue benefit returns. This he said in Abuja during the graduation ceremony of the second batch of the master Gemstone, Jewelry making and design training. Gbemisola Saraki said the ministry intends to transform Nigeria from the consumer of foreign jewellery products to consumers and producers of high-quality local jewellery to save the country from huge foreign exchange expended on jewellery imports.
She explained that Nigeria, with its large population, is known to have a huge, insatiable appetite for jewellery and thus it is important to create a local industry that would substantially meet the local demand and create jobs in the process. Dr. Saraki said: “It is also a known fact that Nigeria is abundantly blessed with several varieties of mineral resources. Among the minerals identified are varieties of precious and semi-precious gemstones. Some of the most popular Nigerian gemstones include Sapphire, Aquamarine, Beryl, Emerald, Tourmaline, Ruby, Garnet, Amethyst and Zircon, which are located across the Country. But, sadly, they are illegally exported out of the country in raw forms. We all know that the value of a gemstone increases when it is cut and polished, however, the majority of gemstones mined in Nigeria 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.”
Patrick Ojeka, the Director of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, urged young graduates of the course to show interest in the skills they acquired for the development of the downstream sector.