The Independent National Electoral Commission Returning Officer in the 2023 Abia State governorship election, Prof Nnenna Oti, has revealed that she was offered a financial incentive to manipulate the election results.
SaharaReporters had reported that Oti, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Southeast Nigeria had refused to collate the governorship results of Obingwa council area Abia during the March 18 election.
She was quoted to have said at the collation office in Umuahia, during the election that as a mother and pastor, she would not comprise the process.
Following her refusal, the INEC national headquarters which engaged her for the job suspended collation and announcement of governorship results on Monday, March 20 to review the results of the local government area. On Wednesday, March 22, she was asked to do the right thing, and the candidate of the Labour Party, Alex Otti was announced as the winner of the poll.
However, following her show of resilience even in the face of intimidation and harassment by politicians, on Tuesday thousands of students and staff members of her university rolled out drums to welcome her back to the institution amidst a heroic celebration.
Describing her as the “heroine of our democracy,” many struggled to touch, shake or hug her.
Some sang and spread cloths on the ground in her honour.
Some of the students sang and called her “a mother with the heart of gold.”
Not even her security aides could stop the jubilant students and staff members from having a glimpse of her.
The visibly joyous Oti returned the kind gesture with smiles, waving as her motorcade mingled through the crowd.
Her office complex called the Senate House, was besieged by students and staff members who sang songs of celebration.
A student who gave his name as Joy said, “We are here to welcome our big mummy. The heroine of our democracy. Her role in the Abia State governorship election will forever be remembered for good in the history of our democracy. Where other professors went and failed, our erudite and integrity-personified vice chancellor distinguished herself.
“Personally, as a student of this institution, I feel very proud of her accomplishments. She has put our university in the international news for the good reason. As a girl, I am proud that it took just a woman, a mother of inestimable value to prove to the world that not all Nigerians are corrupt.”
Addressing the university community, Prof Oti said, "As an electoral officer I have never in my life, never participated in any election. They kept calling and calling. I made my inquiries from Abuja and I said if I perish, I will perish. They came with their threats, they came with their money, they came with their intimidation but I didn't yield to their threats. I am unshakable I didn't start today.
"I stand here before God, Jesus Christ I have never defrauded anyone and I declared a riot act as follows: that under me votes must count. That under me the people's mandate must be upheld because Prof Nnenna Oti, a mother of three children, a wife of Nnanna Oti, a daughter of Afikpo, the daughter of Ebonyi State, the daughter of Ndigbo and the daughter of Nigeria, can never do evil."