The Federal Government has described gemstone as a natural resource that can boost the economies of Oyo State, Southwest region and Nigeria, by shoring up the internally-generated revenue (IGR), expressing readiness to exploit the resource for the benefit of all.
To this end, it has commenced the process for the construction of an International Gemstones Market in Ibadan upon the allocation of two hectares of land by Oyo State Government.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this in Ojoo, Akinyele, Oyo State, during the official handover of the land.
Adegbite explained that the project is part of the Federal Government’s initiative to facilitate economic recovery across the nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister stressed that the Gemstone Market will not only boost the Oyo State economy, but will also encourage foreign investment in the South West region, and expressed the hope that the project would be completed this year.
Adegbite said: “This is an initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari. Part of the post-COVID-19 palliatives that is being done in the mines and steel development sector is to develop the activities of the sector within the six regions of the country. For the Southwest region, we chose to promote gemstone trading, which is already going on in Ibadan in an informal manner at Ojoo.
“The whole idea is to formalize it to an international market and enhance the trade that goes on there and the benefits that will accrue to the state and the Federal and of course, the local governments. This is what we are actualising today. The Governor of Oyo State, Seyi
Makinde, has been very gracious. I have been to see him in his office for this purpose. He promised to do this and he has delivered this morning. We have the land now, and we can begin to do what is necessary and the construction of the market.
“The benefit here is that this will spur activities for people. It will enhance commerce, and at the same time improve the local economy and generate revenue at the national and sub-national levels.”
In their separate remarks, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Seun Ashamu, and the Executive Chairman, Oyo State Solid Mineral Development Agency, Abiodun Oni, unanimously noted that the project complement the diversification plans of Governor Makinde’s administration and would surely boost the state’s IGR.
Oni said: “It will enhance the economy of the state and provide employment. It will enable miners to get value for their efforts. It is a game changer. This is the beginning of good things. This is another pace-setting move. It will have an international impact. It is in efforts towards diversifying the economy of the state. It will improve the state IGR”
Also, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ademola Ajibola, assured that issues of compensation concerning the two hectares of land allocated have been duly settled.