The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, Hon. Razak Atunwa, did not participate in Nigeria’s compulsory National Youth Service scheme.
Premium Times claims that he procured a forged discharge certificate of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which he submitted to the PDP to prove his eligibility for public office.
But rather than present himself for national service, Atunwa allegedly stayed back in the United Kingdom, returning only in 2005 to join the cabinet of then Governor Bukola Saraki in Kwara State at the age of 36.
Between 2005 and 2010 when he stepped down to run for office, the politician was a commissioner at four different ministries, including Land and Housing, Works and Transport, Information and Home Affairs and Finance.
Premium Times reports that it was not immediately clear whether or not Atunwa presented any NYSC document to authorities since 2005 when he was first appointed commissioner, 2011 when he became speaker and 2015 when he became a member of the House of Representatives.
But to secure the PDP governorship ticket on October 1, he allegedly submitted a counterfeit NYSC discharge certificate and accompanied it with an affidavit, indicating he lied on oath, an offence that attracts up to 14 years in jail.
Atunwa, who claimed he qualified for law practice in the United Kingdom after obtaining undergraduate and master’s degrees at separate universities in London, indicated in the nomination document he submitted at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja that he partook in the youth service scheme between 1995 and 1996.
The lawmaker, who is chair of the House Committee on Justice, then accompanied it with a notarised affidavit sworn at the Kwara State High Court in Ilorin on September 10. The document was attached to his PDP expression of interest form.
He signed the document despite a clause indicating he remained automatically disqualified as candidate if any statement or information he provided is found to be false, inaccurate, or mislead the party or its agents from making proper assessment of his competence to contest the governorship election under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It remains to be seen if the PDP will enforce its own rule and disqualify him as a result of this revelation.
Atunwa, born on October 17, 1969, said he studied law at the University of East London, graduating in 1992 at age 23.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree at 23, Atunwa, going by Section 2 of the NYSC Act, should have participated in the year-long national service.