The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, has issued the Nigerian government a seven-day ultimatum to engage former World Bank Vice President, Oby Ezekwesili, in a public debate.
The group, on Wednesday, urged the federal government to appoint Information Minister, Labaran Maku, or any other government official to engage Ms. Ezekwesili in the debate.
Ms. Ezekwesili had challenged the federal government to a public debate to account for US$67 billion in Foreign Reserves and Excess Crude Account, since 2007.
In response, the federal government had begun a series of attacks on the former minister, preceded by a tersely worded press statement by Mr. Maku last Sunday.
The CNPP berated the federal government for resorting to name calling rather than responding to the "grave allegation."
"For the avoidance of doubt many public commentators, anti-corruption crusaders and we of the CNPP had severally bemoaned the pervasive corruption in the land, the criminal squandermania of our patrimony and uncommon culture of impunity, in the last 13 years," said the CNPP in a statement signed by Osita Okechukwu, its National Publicity Secretary.
Mr. Okechukwu said that the debate is necessary because Ms. Ezekwesili had served in various capacities, in the past, in the Peoples' Democratic Party led government.
"Secondly and most importantly is the fact that the Minister of Information, Mr. Maku also leveled allegations of monumental corruption on the former minister," Mr. Okechukwu said.
"Thirdly, ex-president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo under which Ms. Ezekwesili served had serially labeled the President Goodluck Jonathan's regime as incurably corrupt," he added.
The federal government had tried to pick holes in Ms. Ezekwesili's claims by stating that she did not disclose the source of her figures.
The CNPP said that the debate will be a platform for the former Director of Bureau of Public Procurement to disclose her source and substantiate her allegations.
"For us, corruption is a major contentious issue and there is no better time than this for the Jonathan administration to use the public debate to erase the epitaph of engraving its name in the hall of infamy as the most corrupt regime in the annals of the country," said Mr. Okechukwu. "Therefore we challenge the Jonathan administration to climb down from the high horse and embrace the debate; which more than any press conference offers them the window to wipe out the inciting information, which is gaining ground."
"The debate in our viewpoint is a win-win scenario which indeed offers the government a rare vista to clear the lingering doubt over its commitment to war against corruption.
"In sum, we challenge President Jonathan to convoke this debate within 7 Days or we stand on Mrs. Ezekwesili's allegation to prosecute the government for unbridled and wanton looting of the national treasury," Mr. Okechukwu said.