The Federal Government on Tuesday reiterated its call on striking university lecturers to return to work in the interest of students and prevent further damage to the education system.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, made the call during the Ministry’s monthly press briefing in Abuja.
He claimed that government had conceded to most of the demands made by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and wondered why the union would not budge in the interest of the nation.
He said government’s commitment to resolve the crisis was further demonstrated by its representation by Vice President Namadi Sambo in the dialogue.
Mr. Maku explained that the strike was not for salaries but for allowances, as salaries had been increased.
According to the minister, “salaries have been increased by 54.3% which is half of our monthly income but they still insist on their 100 billon allowance.
“Government offered N30 billion but after a meeting with the vice president, government promised another N10 billion, making it N40 billion.
“Government has also promised N100 billion from Education Trust Fund and the N40 billon allowance have already been paid in many universities, yet they are still under lock and key”, he added.
The minister also stated that no government had cooperated with ASUU the way this present government was doing.
“We are doing infrastructure in the universities. For example, we have 38 new buildings in the University of Benin.
“No one would want our teachers to suffer because I have worked as a teacher, same as the President, but we cannot give all that they are asking.
“No nation can move forward if we all expect government to give 100 per cent time and effort to our problems. We run an economy that needs attention in all phases’’, he said.
He, however, sympathised with students now at home and called on parents and Nigerians in general to appeal to ASUU to go back to the classrooms.
Mr. Maku said: “it is not in the interest of the country for the strike to continue.”
The university lecturers have been on strike since July 1 and have demanded the full implementation of the 2009 agreement the union had with the federal government.