The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, on Thursday at a World Press Conference organised by the ministry in Abuja, prayed for better understanding between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. He also appealed to the striking lecturers to call off their strike.
"Government just about two weeks ago, kept N30 billion on ground to meet the demands of the universities. As this is going on, we still pray that there will be better understanding so that our children can go back to school; a good number of us here have our children in federal universities," Mr. Maku said.
He said that the problems between the two parties cannot always be resolved by shutting down universities. He lamented that students have spent over two months at home because of the lecturers' strike.
He also disclosed that more money than necessary had been channeled towards security than education, especially due to the insurgency in the Northeastern part of the country. He commended the northern youth for their efforts in creating a "Civilian JTF" to counter the Boko Haram insurgency.
"It is disheartening that our troops our dying in our own country while trying to keep all of us safe. You cannot monetize patriotism. You cannot monetize honor. There is no amount of money that will compensate the lives of our soldiers," he said.
Mr. Maku also said the federal government is doing a lot in the area of road construction, adding that a contract was recently awarded for an integrity check on the Third Mainland Bridge while the Abuja - Lokoja expressway would soon be completed.
He also said that a Chinese company has already shown interest to build a 20,000 megawatt coal power plant in the country in addition to seven completed power plants.
"What is giving us hope in the power sector is that we are now removing the ineptitude of the bureaucracy of the government from the power sector through privatization and deregulation. All the companies that bidded have already paid in their money," he said
Speaking on the commencement of international flights by Ethiopian airline from Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Enugu, Mr. Maku noted that the Southeastern part of the country never had an airport despite the that the Igbos travel out of the country the most especially on business.
"The Igbos are very enterprising but since 1960 the Southeast has never had an international airport until now. Wherever you go in the world, you'll find an Igbo man trading. The South-East is our own Taiwan and the economic growth of the zone is the growth of Nigeria as a whole," he said.
Mr. Maku also said that the World Press Conference would become a monthly dialogue to enable Nigerians follow the progress made by the Jonathan administration.