The Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, has threatened to sanction book publishers who failed to meet up with the contract terms for the supply of books meant for free distribution under the Universal Basic Education scheme.
Speaking during a meeting with the managing directors and representatives of nine publishing firms in Abuja Monady, the minister said they failed to meet up with the six-week distribution deadline stipulated in the contract.
Although he did not disclose what sanctions would be applied, Wike said it would be necessary to show that the Government means business and agreements entered with Government should not be taken lightly.
He added that such failures to meet up with terms of agreement to sabotage Federal Government efforts at providing free education and raising the standard of education in Nigeria.
"We are not owing you, if we did not pay, the world would know about that by now. Nobody would know that we are doing our best. People take government for a ride. If you fail, I must invoke the sanctions," he said.
The minister disclosed that the ministry had already been queried for not supplying books before the school sessions commence, but rather waiting for the session to be well underway.
"Why did you not tell us at the time of signing the agreement that the time would not be enough? So you signed an agreement you had no intention of meeting up with. That means you deliberately deceived the government," Wike added.
The publishers pleaded for leniency citing unforeseen challenges such as delay at the ports and the refusal of local transporters to convey the books to some parts of the North troubled by the activities of the Boko Haram sect.
Some of the publishing firms were Evans Brothers, University Press PLC, Spectrum Books, Lantern Publishers, Learn Africa and Africana Press.