By Chioma Iruke
Nigeria’s Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, has stated that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will get more Nigerian universities into the first 1,000 in Africa’s educational ratings.
Ngige said this during the reconvened meeting between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) leadership and the Federal Government in Abuja.
“So, we will give the public university system a pride of place, so that when (the) next global assessment is done, we will get more Nigerian universities in the first 1,000 in Africa.
“I am a firm believer in the public university system. That is why my children are there. I didn’t send them to private ones. One graduated from Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Awka, and my daughter from UNILAG,” he said.
“My third child will also come out possibly next month from a public university again. I don’t believe that public universities are going to be abandoned,” he added.
He assured the union that Buhari’s regime would not abandon the public universities despite dwindling resources, while he noted that “ASUU is not asking for things that are impossible. They are not asking that we give them our head or blood. They are interested in getting good working conditions for their members and for the public university system to be conducive for teaching and research.”
Ngige added that the government would be happy to concentrate its limited resources on areas that would produce good effects.
“If the private sector can bring excellence to our universities, (the) government can as well do the same. So, working hand in hand with ASUU as we are currently doing is a model we must keep,” Mr Ngige further noted.
“We will not be going to war with ASUU all the time. We can do constructive engagement. If there is something that the government can do and it says it can’t, I am here to say no, you can because I am privy to some information,” he added.