By G9ija

Managing Director of the Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, has said that the country could earn well over $10 billion yearly from the gold and jewel manufacturing sector, if properly harnessed.

“We are always talking of other industrial minerals and oil and gas but nobody has ever looked at that sector that has the capacity to fetch Nigeria more than $10 billion annually,’’ he said.

According to him, it is gratifying to note that the Gemological Institute of Nigeria (GIN) Lugbe, Abuja, has already been established as the first of its kind in the African sub-region to train gemologists and jewelers for the benefit of the economy.

Adesugba spoke yesterday when he received in audience Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in Abuja.

The NEPZA boss, who recalled the role played by the governor in the establishment of the GIN while serving as the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, said prior to that, the nation did not have any gemological institute which meant it was unable to ascertain the quality of gems.

“But all that has become history. A World Bank’s programme is presently supporting the institute and it is expected to start training of gemologists and jewelers soon. It will specifically train students about the varieties of gemstones, identification of gemstones, grading, appraisal and mastery of terminologies, and the proper usage of gemology instruments.”

Fayemi commended the appointment of Adesugba as the MD of NEPZA.

“I have a professional relationship with you when I was the minister of mines, you helped me with creation of the chamber of mines and you were a member of the roadmap committee of the Ministry of Mines and Steel.

“Some of the things we started then have now resulted to some of what people are hearing about. The presidential initiative on artisanal gold mining and the resuscitation of Ajaokuta came out of that work. There is a whole range of things, and I’m glad that the new minister is continuing with the road map that we put in place.,” the governor said.