Sunday, January 16, 2005

Sources Say ERHC Has Won Blocks 2 And 4

Three sources, two of them trusted journalists who cover ERHC, have told ERHC On The Move and its correspondents that the company has won its bids for operatorship of Blocks 2 and 4 in the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone.

The news comes as Nigerian President and Petroleum Minister Olusegun Obasanjo is in danger of being undermined as the country's leader - a development that most observers think is unlikely to change the outcome of the awards.

The problem began after the Obasanjo givernment permitted the removal of the governor of Anambra State - the home of ERHC chairman Sir Eemeka Offor, who was once its political "godfather" as well - by his jilted "godfather," Chris Uba. Thugs burned down the governor's office, and his security team was disbanded (but later re-formed). Uba later confessed to rigging the polls that elected Chris Ngige, the Anambra governor.

In the continuing fallout, and in protest of the removal of the party's national chairman, Audi Ogbeh, by Osbasanjo allies last week, some 22 Nigerian state governors are reportedly now in the process of breaking away from Obasanjo's People's Democratic Party (PDP) and forming another. Other observers say the party leadership will successfuly resist that move.

It is unclear what may happen to the awards process if Obasanjo's power base becomes sufficiently eroded. Both ERHC chairman Sir Emeka Offor and another top bidder for the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea blocks are key supporters of the President, a former general and national hero who tried but failed to overthrow the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and was jailed for his efforts.

Political upheaval is not unusual in Nigeria, a nation where democracy has been thriving anew after a spate of military rule, and where the constitution gives the President exceptional powers to enforce policy. But Obasanjo's standing has rarely been more criticized, largely because he, too, has found the ethnically-divided nation as impossible to lead as his forebears did. In an essay in Nigeria's Daily Trust published Jan. 11, writer Adagbo Onoja lamented:

But now, it is a settled reality that contrary to the great expectation that [Obasanjo] would use the golden opportunity of a second time in power to transcend the street wisdom about Nigerian politics and make a difference, he has relied rather exactly on those categories. Dried of the high mindedness of icons, he has compounded the crisis. And with that has come the frustration that we as a country are again farther from a qualitative Nigerian leader as a resolution of the social impasse in the country.

That was one of the tamer quotes from the feisty Nigerian press that has followed the ouster of Ogbeh, a powerful political figure in his own right and an ally of Nigeria's Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is a likely candidate for President in 2007.

Said another editorial writer:

What kind of democratic institutions and culture is this president erecting if those who disagree with him are hounded out of office in disgrace even when there are no indications they have committed any crimes? Did we elect a human being to be our president or a god? I suspect retired Gen. Obasanjo has started thinking of himself as a god, who cannot be challenged. This will not augur well for our democracy as this President is destroying any little faith people of goodwill had in Nigeria.

The other troubling thing about this President is his penchant for using State institutions in his fight against opponents. There have been reports that Ogbeh had to write his resignation letter at the prompting of members of the State Security Service who held him at gunpoint. There were also reports that he was placed under house arrest by men of the State Security Service (SSS). Ogbeh is quoted as saying that the last straw for him was the harassment of his daughter by men of the State Security Service right in front of his house. Like I have asked in the past: Where is the outrage against this president?

But apart from the political travails of Obasanjo, the elected leader of Nigeria's 130 million people, the sources say, the awards process has been settled - possibly due to his last-minute intervention as reported exclusively here on Friday, Jan. 14.

What remains unknown is whether or not ExxonMobil's rights in Block 2 and 4 have been assigned to the Devon Energy/Pioneer Natural Resources/ERHC partnership that would take control of the blocks, and what preferential rights in other blocks may have been granted to ERHC in satisfaction of their pre-existing entitlements in Blocks 2 through 6.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

PDP is Still Intact - Lar

Vanguard (Lagos)

January 15, 2005
Posted to the web January 14, 2005

Celestine Okafor Assistant Editor

FORMER national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Solomon Demshep Lar has reacted to the events going on in his party following the forced resignation of its national chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh. He told Saturday Vanguard Thursday that the party would overcome its current crisis. Excerpts:

How would you react to all these crisis rocking your party PDP which you once led as national chairman?

There is no cause for alarm. It's nothing really to worry about. I think it is a small misunderstandings that are abound to happen once in a while in any human set up, be it family, work place or any organization be it political or otherwise. I believe that in no time, all these stories in the media about PDP will die down. It has happened several times before, it will happen again.

There is fear that the whole crisis may have a telling effect on the party on or before 2007?

What fear are you talking about? Are you the one entertaining the fear for PDP? Well, I have told you that this crisis is normal. Disagreements are bound to happen in politics. But nothing has shown to me that this one (crisis) is unmanageable. We have managed such worse situations very well in the past so this one can not be different. In parties like ours, people come and go for one reason or the other and life goes one. So, things will force into their proper places. The PDP is very much intact I can assure you that.

There's this general believe that President Obasanjo is the problem of the party, that he interferes too much in the activities and affairs of the party?

I don't know about that. But I know President Obasanjo is the leader of the PDP by virtue of his being the President of the country and most of all, the product of the PDP. Anywhere in the world where there is a presidential democracy, the president is recognized as the leader of the party and to that extent, his views are respected and valued by his political party. That does also not mean that the president has the right to do wrong or violate the rules of the party. So in the case of President Obasanjo, we his fellow party members recognize that he is the leader of our party and we give him his due. That does not mean that we party members are subservient to him. I strongly disagree with anybody on that.

It appears that this crisis has created a serious gulf between the president and his vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar....

Is that so? I expect you to know

Unfortunately, I don't. You see, as a former national chairman of the party and leader within, I am sufficiently close to the president and his vice and I can tell you from what I know that I have not noticed any such division between them. But I have noticed too that there is cordiality in their relationship. I have equally noticed over time that there is a great difference between all the things reported about public figures in the newspapers and magazines from the reality on ground. that is the way it is.

Your name is being touted as one of the likely successors to Audu Ogbeh when he finally leaves next month. Would that be great for the PDP to have you back five years after?

Is that so, who is touting my name?

Party members and the media of course, based on feelers from high quarters?

I see, I am not aware of that. Nobody has told me that there is a vacancy left for me to come and fill. May be we should leave that for now until such offer comes, then I would decide whether I am interested in it or not.

What would you suggest as the way forward for the PDP after this crisis?

I would like PDP to continue to grow from strength to strength. I would like to see a party that will continue to provide responsible and effective governance to our nation and her people in the years ahead us. I would like to see a party that remains focused and dynamic; a party where all members have equal voice, equal stakes and where justice, equity and fairness reigns more. Finally, I would like to see a party that has less friction with a good crisis resolution mechanism so that our democracy can endure.