Suleja Emirate Council has commended the World Bank for sustained interest in the revival of Ladi Kwali Pottery Centre, saying that the Centre, when revived, will not only deliver enormous economic benefits to Nigerians, but will also impact the country by serving as hub for cultural regeneration.
The Council gave the commendation during a visit of the team of the World Bank-supported Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) project to the council, in Suleja, recently.
The Council expressed optimism that the sustained interest of the World Bank will culminate in the revival of the centre, while lamenting the collapse of a center described as “a place which was source of livelihood for many communities,” stating that its revival and subsequent expansion will create huge jobs for Nigerians.
The Emir of Suleja and Chairman of Council, Mohammed Awwal Ibrahim who was represented by the Madawaki of Suleja, Engr Shuaibu Rabi, explained that before the decline of the Centre, its pottery products were among the best, adding that if revived, its products could serve as export commodity that can earn revenue for the country, thereby contributing to the government’s effort to diversify the economy through the non-oil sector.
The Council further explained that the highly desired revival of the Pottery Centre will significantly reduce crime in the Emirate. He appealed to the World Bank to expedite action on the goodwill being extended to the emirate through the Minerals Sector Support for Economic Diversification (MinDiver) project.
Earlier, the team which was led by the Project Coordinator, MinDiver, Engr Linus Adie visited the dilapidated remains of the Centre which was sometime a flourishing hub for art and commercial pottery.
President, Dajo Pottery International, Master-Potter Lavi O’Bem Yakubu who has been decorated with the National Productivity Order of Merit Award explained that the Ladi Kwali Pottery Centre was a flourishing hub for art and commercial pottery production, he lamented that such a place of economic importance has been in comatose for over forty years.
While saying that the Centre was established by in 1957 by Michael Cardew, a British citizen during the colonial administration, he commended MinDiver for the effort to revive the Nigerian pottery sector, adding that “socioeconomic challenges of the country will be significantly addressed if the ceramics sector is revitalized.”
Yakubu, who is recipient of the National Honor of ‘Member of the Order of the Niger’ said: “if the country’s ceramics industry is revived, the entire solid mineral sector will be developed,” adding that no less than thirty solid minerals are used in pottery making, a development he said will lead to creation of several sustainable jobs.
The multiple award-winning Master-Potter who earned the National Local Raw Materials Content Award said “as off-takers of over thirty process solid mineral types used in pottery production, Nigeria will channel the minerals to production of ceramic products instead of exporting them in raw form,” adding that Nigeria should be supported to produce a broad spectrum of solid mineral products.
Yakubu, who is the President, Dajo Pottery International, further said: “We can produce bricks, floor tiles, roof tiles, electrical insulators, sanitary wares, brake shoes, spark plugs and more, stating that some of these products can be exported.
Ceramic products can be exported and it will earn revenue for the country, he explained. While saying that clay is very instrumental in the pharmaceutical industry, he noted that “kaolin mixture is one hundred percent clay,” adding that in the petrochemical industry, the lubricant for drills is bentonite – which is clay.” The globally-recognised expert said if the Centre is revived and expanded, it will help to actuate the ongoing economic diversification through the non-oil sector.
While expressing concern that markets in Nigeria are flooded with Chinese products, the expert discussed the marketability of the ceramic products, saying, “If you go to the market, you will see that virtually all the table wares there are imported.”
Discussing the need to look inwards and develop the Nigerian local content, he said: “There is no country more endowed than Nigeria by way of raw materials, yet we are still importing,” adding that in 2015, Nigeria spent over 600 million dollars on importation of ceramics.
Yakubu who is Fellow, Society of Nigerian Artists expressed desire for speedy recovery of the ceramics sector saying, “The faster we change this situation, the better for this country.”
Responding to questions from journalists shortly after he was conducted round the decrepit remains of Ladi Kwali Pottery Centre, the Task Team Leader of MinDiver, Michael Stanley said: “The revival of this place will be one of the most significant contributions of the World Bank to an industry that has deep origins inside Nigeria,” adding that its importance derives from serving as a confluence of traditional mining and mineral processing with cultural attributes that are part of Nigeria itself.”
“This has been a long-recognized cultural important Centre globally, and it is a pleasure for the World Bank to be part of its revival.”
Project Coordinator, MinDiver, Engr Linus Adie said the revival of the center will help create increasing job opportunities as it will serve as a training Centre that will help train new hands which will in turn enable government to establish other pottery Centre in other locations across the federation. According when the Centre is revived, Nigeria can change from being an importer of ceramic plates to a mass producer and exporter of ceramic products.