By Mumini AbdulKareem
The Kwara State chapter of the opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC) is allegedly behind plot to disqualify the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon Razak Atunwa from the gubernatorial race using the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate issue, National Pilot gathered, last night.
The move to discredit Atunwa, it was gathered, was part of a grand plot by the presidency to ensure that the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki is defeated at home during the 2019 general elections in a bid to capture Kwara at all costs.
President Muhammadu Buhari after a meeting with the leadership of the Kwara APC led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and other gubernatorial aspirants on Tuesday at the villa in Abuja gave the party a marching order to capture Kwara from Saraki in the forthcoming poll.
But reacting to the presidential directive against the party, the PDP in a statement by its state Publicity Secretary, Tunde Ashaolu said President Buhari and the APC should be prepared to accept the imminent defeat that await the party in the 2019 governorship election.
It described the directive given the APC by President Buhari to take over the mantle of leadership in the state as a dream and exercise in futility.
“The marching order by the president to the APC stakeholders to take over Kwara is a reflection of the party’s desperation to take control of Kwara at all cost and put the state in captivity of the Lagos and Abuja cabals”, the statement added.
An online medium, Premium Times, had reported on Monday that Atunwa had issues with his NYSC certificate, a report that he swiftly denied.
Atunwa emerged the candidate of the PDP out of 10 contestants in the gubernatorial primary of the party held this month.
Shortly after the former speaker’s emergence, PDP aspirants who contested with him subsequently pledged to support his candidature hinging their decision on the philosophy of the Saraki political dynasty to always support the decision of the party.
This medium learnt that the APC intend to raise further spurious and unsubstantiated allegations against Atunwa in a smear campaign of calumny to de-market him before the electorate.
According to investigation by this medium last night, the next phase of the APC project against Saraki’s candidate (Atunwa) will become visible in a matter of days, adding that more are still coming.
Our findings further revealed that the silence maintained by the APC over the matter was strategic and deliberate.
A source who confirmed the development added that “You can see that the opposition party that is ordinarily supposed to be celebrating is not raising any issue over the matter. It is all part of a grand plan scripted to ensure that Saraki is defeated in next year’s election in the state.
“The plan is to wait till the last minute and strike when there is no longer the time for substitution of candidate for the governorship position by INEC. However, in the coming days more spurious and unsubstantiated allegations would be raised against Atunwa and there will be massive media campaign to propagate it”, the source added.
INEC has fixed November 2, 2018 as deadline for the submission of names of candidates for governorship, deputy governorship and House of Assembly candidates.
But the deadline for substitution of governorship candidates remains November 17, 2018 according to the commission’s timetable.
While describing the report as untrue and unfounded, Atunwa told Premium Times in a telephone chat that he did not submit any unsupported NYSC certificate.
“I did not submit any unsupported NYSC certificate as suggested by you( Premium Times). I strongly advise that you verify each and every assertion you wish to make. You may wish to make formal enquiries/verifications of all institutions concerned. You should also be circumspect enough to authenticate the provenance of any document you may be handed if it’s not from a formal and official source. An organization such as yours should not fall short of the required legal and ethical standards”, he had said.