There was palpable tension on Sunday at the emergency Ime-Obi meeting of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo following the sudden collapse of the leading contestant for the group’s president-general, Prof. George Obiozor.
The meeting held was called to resolve differences arising from the 40-man list of electoral committee members for the 2021 election of Ohanaeze Ndigbo submitted to Ime-Obi Ohanaeze by the President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, on December 6.
Obiozor, 78, had earlier been endorsed by Imo State stakeholders as their consensus candidate.
During the meeting, he was said to have started shivering where he was seated and someone close to him called for help.
While he was being helped out of the hall, he slumped and started talking incoherently.
Efforts to resuscitate him failed as he was moved into his car and accompanied by an ambulance belonging to the Enugu State Government and driven out of the meeting venue.
While being rushed to the car, Obiozor was heard screaming intermittently.
One of the members of the Ime-Obi meeting, who sat close to him at the meeting, told journalists, “He (Obiozor) suddenly started behaving funny and talking to himself. I noticed that he was not feeling well and called for help.”
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Nwodo said that Ime-Obi unanimously endorsed the appointment of Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey from Ebonyi State as the Chairman of the Electoral Committee for the January 11, 2021 poll.
Nwodo had on December 6, 2020 nominated Chief Ben Obi from Anambra state as chairman of the 40-man electoral committee, but the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, kicked against his nomination, pointing out that Obi was a well-known chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Nwodo, who addressed reporters through his Special Adviser on Media, Chief Emeka Attamah, described the meeting as the most peaceful Ime-Obi Ohanaeze has had since its inception.
He said, “As you know, some people raised objections to some of the names of the electoral committee members for the January 11 Ohanaeze election, especically the Chairman of the committee, Chief Ben Obi.
“But that was resolved when Obi stood up during the meeting and announced his decision to step down.
“Based on the constitution of Ohanaeze that empowers the president-general to appoint the electoral committee, Chief Nwodo nominated his predecessor, Chief Enwo-Igariwey, as his replacement and he was unanimously accepted to chair the 40-man electoral committee.
“Nwodo also nominated Bishop Goddy Okafor as the deputy chairman of the electoral committee and he was unanimously accepted.”
Attamah disclosed that Obi embraced Ngige during the meeting, adding that Ime-Obi also approved that the January election should be held in Imo State.