Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) today gave the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum within which to organize a public debate between the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku or any of its officials with former Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili, or face prosecution for unbridled and wanton looting of the national treasury.
The Conference said in a press statement signed by Osita Okechukwu, its National Publicity Secretary, that its ultimatum follows Mrs Ezekwesili challenge thrown in connection with the allegation of monumental corruption bordering on the squandering of $45 billion and $22 billion Foreign Reserve and Excess Crude Accounts respectively by the Yar’Adua/Jonathan administrations.
“We are alarmed that instead of responding to the grave allegation made by Mrs Ezekwesili the presidency tepidly said, ‘it is obviously preposterous for Mrs Oby Exekwesili to be asking for a National Debate on the outlandish and reckless disinformation she made to incite the Nigerian people against the government. This was deliberately calculated, albeit unsuccessful effort to bring the Jonathan administration to disrepute unjustifiably,’” the statement said.
It pointed out that many public commentators, anti-corruption crusaders and the CNPP itself have severally bemoaned the pervasive corruption in the land, the criminal squandermania of Nigeria’s patrimony and uncommon culture of impunity, in the last 13 years.
“However, it is our considered view that this debate is germane, absolutely necessary and a matter of urgent national importance based on the fact that Mrs Ezekwesili is not an ordinary citizen, she is not only a former vice president of the World Bank, but she also served as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and once headed the Bureau of Public Procurement, under one of the most corrupt regimes in Nigeria,” CNPP thundered.
It gave other reasons to have the debate:
• The Minister of Information, Mr. Maku, also leveled allegations of monumental corruption on the former Minister;
• Ex-president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, under whom Mrs Ezekwesili served had serially labeled the President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime as incurably corrupt; and,
• The mud splashed on the image of the country can only be wiped-out if the government musters the political will to convoke the public debate as requested, and to do otherwise will further tarnish the image of the country and discourage direct foreign investment, which Nigeria needs.
“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.
“Now that the opportunity has offered itself for the government to cleanse itself or allow the good people of Nigeria to go home with the impression that the regime is absolutely corrupt; it will be regrettable if the government denies us, indeed itself this golden opportunity.”
It further noted that there is no better platform for Mrs Ezekwesili to disclose her source and substantiate her grave allegations than such a debate, which it described as “a win-win scenario” which offers the government a rare vista to clear the lingering doubt over its commitment to the war against corruption.