A recent investigation carried out by Premium Times has revealed that the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State in the forthcoming general elections, Razak Atunwa, did not participate in Nigeria’s compulsory national youth service scheme.
Premium Times reports that instead, 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.
The fresh revelation about Mr Atunwa came about four months after PREMIUM TIMES exposed then finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, for engaging in similar conduct, and just a little over a month since the embattled official was forced to resign as a result of the scandal.
The Kwara politician’s conduct also came to light exactly a month after this medium reported that the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, also dodged the compulsory service, making him ineligible for public office and employment in Nigeria.
Although the minister was later disqualified by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) from running for governorship of his native Oyo State, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to remove him from office.
The NYSC law requires every Nigerian who attended university or polytechnic to participate in the national youth scheme for one year after graduation, provided the person finished before age 30. Failure to serve would prohibit such individual from gainful employment in Nigeria, and making false claims about serving could attract up to 14 years in jail.
Also, anyone who graduated before 30 but deliberately declined to serve has committed a crime that could attract 12-month imprisonment, even if the person did not forge NYSC documents.
Only a person who obtained a degree after 30 or served in the military or won national honours medal would qualify for exemption certificate under the NYSC law.
Mr 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, Mr Atunwa, going by Section 2 of the NYSC Act, should have participated in the year-long national service.