Mrs Aisha Buhari, Nigeria’s First Lady, has called for more women participation in mining to boost the growth of the sector.
Aisha, represented by Mrs Mairo Al-Makura, the Wife of Governor of Nasarawa, made the call in Abuja on Thursday while declaring open a two-day African Gems and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES).
The theme for this year’s edition of the exhibition is “Mines 2 Market: Collaborating to Improve Industry Linkages, Healing Africa through Gemstones”.
She said that women should tap from available resources and opportunities in the sector as there should be gender equity in the industry.
The First Lady charged major players in the industry to encourage women to grow in the mining business.
Aisha said that the event, which its maiden edition recorded a huge success in 2017, was envisaged to draw global patronage to promote Nigeria gemstones.
She said that there was no doubt that the yearly seminar and exhibition would subsequently boost the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country.
Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, said the ministry had commenced reforms in the sector to ensure proper policing of the gemstone sector.
“The central point of our gem policy is to ensure due process in our gemstone mining and marketing activities in line with international best practices,” he said.
The minister said that the ministry would assist artisanal miners to get good prices for their gemstones to boost the sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP..
“Let me again emphasise that while we continue to make efforts to attract investors into the sector, we will ensure that mining is done in strict accordance with our laws.
According to him, the ministry is encouraged to collaborate with the organisers of AGJES to celebrate the 2018 second edition due to amazing success recorded from its maiden edition.
“The ministry is not an operator, but a regulator of the sector, but we realise that we cannot achieve the objectives of this current government without the collaboration of stakeholders.
“As part of our mandate, the ministry is required to improve the sector’s capacity to create jobs and broaden the range of economic opportunities available to Nigerians,” he said.
According to him, this is why the ministry continue to support the initiatives of the organisers using this event as a platform for creating a viable local market and access to foreign markets for locally produced gems and jewelry.
Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour, charged the ministry to ensure it curtails illegal mining activities that had engulfed the sector.
“The ministry must incorporate illegal miners into cooperatives to reduce illegal mining operations; oil is no more in vogue, but solid minerals.”
Amb. Regina Edzuwah, the Co-promoter, African Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES), said Nigeria was endowed with abundant precious stones that could earn the country billions of dollars in world market.
Edzuwah said that Nigeria gemstones, which include, sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, zircon and amethyst, among others, were highly recognised and appreciated abroad.