2023: The Return of Atunwa and The Game-Changing Effect

Penultimate Friday, the governorship candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), to the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kwara state, Rt. Hon. Razak Atunwa made an unannounced entry into the state of harmony, after about 2 years of vacation from the political scene.His entry according to political analysts has begun to change political permutations by the ruling and opposition political parties.

Atunwa who had served as Commissioner, Speaker of the State Assembly and Member of the House of Representatives, decided to stay away from the state after he left office in June 2019, to avoid creating any distraction for the present administration.Despite the low-profiled return, his homecoming has however, translate to rejuvenation and reinvigoration of the political permutations by politicians.Before now, agitations and jostlings coming from a particular senatorial district has been gaining momentum and sympathy, but Atunwa’s return has again turns the scrabble and the more the calculations of aspirants on the platform of the PDP and other parties unfold in the scramble for the soul of Kwara state in the forthcoming election, the more confused the struggle becomes.

However, one thing is certain and that is the fact that the return of Atunwa has unarguably changed the political gameplan in the 2023 governorship tussle among aspirants in the state which is bound to give sleepless nights to the actors.Born on the 17th of October, 1969 in Ilorin, Kwara state, He attended Immaculate Heart Secondary School, where he obtained Ordinary Level Certificate in 1986.

Rt. Hon. Atunwa studied law at the University Of East London, graduating in 1992 with LL.b (hons). He further obtained his Masters Degree (LLM) in International Law from the University of London in 1993. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in October 1994 by the Inner Temple Inns of Court.After 11 successful years as a Barrister at law in London where he specialized in criminal and international law, Hon Atunwa returned to Nigeria in 2005.At 36, Atunwa was appointed as the commissioner for Land and Housing in Kwara state in August 2005, Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs ( 2006 – 2007), Commissioner for Works and Transport (2007 – 2009) and Commissioner for Finance ( 2009 – 2010).

Hon Atunwa has immense Governance experience in Kwara state after working in 4 different ministries in his thirties.In 2011, he was elected into the Kwara state House of Assembly to represent Owode/Onire Constituency of Kwara State on the (PDP) platform and was later unanimously elected Speaker of the House at the inauguration of the 7th Assembly.Hon Atunwa was elected as a Member of the Federal House of Representatives of the National Assembly to represent Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency between 2015-2019.He was the Chairman, House Committee on Justice and also headed the House Committee investigating corruption in the award of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 24.He is happily married with kids.

Atunwa is more than qualified if only he’s interested in the race again. In a recent chat with N-media influencers in Ilorin, the 2019 PDP governorship candidate X-rayed the last gubernatorial election in proper perspective.He also disclosed that “I was well accepted by the people especially the youths with whom I have a pact.” Atunwa argued that the circumstances that prevailed at that time which deprived him of the people’s mandate to govern the state were no longer tenable.”The people of Kwara state who, as a result of heavy duty lies and propaganda felt Kwara was not faring too well under our leadership/representation are now better informed and are also in position to make informed choices,” he said.Atunwa had maintained unusual silence since his party lost election, which has generated some political projections and assumptions, with some insinuating that Atunwa had dropped politics for other phase of life. His recent return has proven this school of thought wrong.

Our analysis are hinged on home-front reports and observations. The man in question has not come out to say he’s interested in the race again but when the opportunity comes, he has all the legal rights and power to contest again using the goodwill and encouragement that have come from the good people of the state.*Why Atunwa again*?Despite the major yearnings on the desirability of a specific zone to have the shot at the governorship of the state in 2023, there are few analysts who are still asking question on why the 51-year old politician has returned to the ring again.This same question was thrown at notable among his supporters and he responded swiftly.There was a clear message in the answer as he (name withheld) said: “Atunwa has a vision for the development of the state which has not been actualised. Why can’t we allow him to test the ground again and if he succeeds by God Grace, he will ensure that he brings this vision to reality. *And if any other aspirant could come out from the senatorial district where Atunwa hails from, what is stopping him from contesting too, if he so wishes? What is good for the goose should as well be good for the gander. Afterall, the issue of rotation is based on respect and love for one another not constitutional*.”Looking at the situation in the state, you will discover that there are lots of upheaval, disquiet (many caused by the ruling party), anger, hunger, inhuman and unhealthy government policies and lack of confidence on the government due to failed promises. The people are now of the opinion that if it had been PDP, it would have been better.”In fairness to the opposition party, the people of the state are now calling on them to come and rescue the state from the hands of the clueless government which has failed woefully to meet their aspirations and yearnings for development rather than cosmetic governance.Now that Atunwa has returned with his intentions yet unknown, how would the political game play out in Kwara state? Only time can tell.

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