Wednesday, April 05, 2006

ERHC Closes at HOD After $0.03 Drop; Obasanjo Mulling Third Term?

Rejecting the example of traders overnight in Frankfurt, ERHC Energy closed at the high of the day today despite being down as much as $0.03 to $0.83 during much of the day's trading.

The stock opened a penny down, and only traded higher in the last minutes of the day, reportedly when market makers had dfficulty filling an order for 300,000 shares. Volume for the day was 1,593,437 shares; the share price slipped another cent after hours, according to the New York Times.

In Frankfurt overnight, ERH.F closed Thursday morning down EUR$0.01, as in New York, on 15,363 shares of volume, the same number as yesterday.

The cut in share price allowed some traders - including this one - to strengthen their positions in advance of Chevron's formal Block 1 announcement.

In other news, President Olusegun Obasanjo's position on a third term - which he told the Washington Post would depend on God and whether the Nigerian constitution changed to allow it - was further muddled by a BBC report that was rewritten after complaints, apparently from his press secretary.

Here's the Nigerian Daily Sun's take on the fracas:

Obasanjo keen on 3rd term, says BBC

Thursday, April 6, 2006

A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report on Wednesday quoted presidential spokesman, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, as confirming that President Olusegun Obasanjo will consider standing for a third term.

Fani-Kayode was said to be responding to the US-based Washington Post interview with Obasanjo, in which the president said God would decide whether to extend his time as president after 2007.

In a swift refutal, however, Fani-Kayode described the report on the BBC website as untrue, saying there was no time he said so. And apparently in response to a protest by Fani-Kayode, BBC later re-wrote the report, saying President Obasanjo will “consider his options to stand for a third term or not if the constitution is changed.”

The report which was earlier entitled “Obasanjo willing for third term” was also changed to “Obasanjo ‘considers’ third term.”

The current constitution only allows the president to stand for two terms of four years each.

Fani-Kayode, who is Obasanjo’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, said in the BBC interview that the president’s decision would not be decided by God alone and that there were other considerations like amending the constitution.

The presidential aide confirmed that his boss had alluded to God as reported, but said it “was not accurate to put it in the context in which it was put that it would be decided by God, as if to say there were no other considerations.”

Said he: “We are not ashamed of the fact that we are a nation of believers… We believe that God rules in the affairs of men.

“What he said is that God is not a God of abandoned projects. What he was referring to are the economic policies of this nation. What he’s referring to are the economic reform programmes that this administration has set in place. It does not necessarily mean that, that means that God is going to use him in the future.”

But Chief Fani-Kayode, reacting to the BBC earlier report, told newsmen in Abuja Wednesday that it be disregarded.

“Our attention has been drawn to a report that is on the BBC website which is claiming that I have said the president will run for third term or consider running for third term. I never said anything of the sort. The BBC got it wrong yet again,” he said.

He explained that the impression conveyed by the story was quite different from the position he expressed when he was contacted by the BBC, adding that the Presidency had since contacted the organisation to clarify its position.

“Let me use this opportunity to state categorically and clearly that, that is not what I said. Rather what I said is that the president would remain focused on his work. The issue of third term or no third term is not something we are considering or thinking about right now because the president’s focus is on moving the country forward”, he further clarified.

He reiterated that the issue of constitutional amendment is exclusive preserve of the National Assembly, pointing out that “once they make all the necessary amendments that they deem fit, it is at that point that we would look at what they have done.

“However, that doesn’t mean that Mr. President has said one way or the other whether he is interested in the third term. All he is saying is that this matter would be decided by God as all things are. People should not impute anything more than that to it,,” he added.

Although he has not made a categorical public statement that he wanted another term, there has been speculation that behind the scenes, he is trying to secure a third term. President Obasanjo had in the Washington Post interview said additional time in the office, if approved by lawmakers and voters, could allow the reforms he has initiated in the past seven years to be “anchored.”

Obasanjo, who was elected in 1999, has spent much of his presidency focusing on debt relief, fighting corruption and reforming Nigeria's large but uneven economy. He said many of his initiatives remain unfinished. His second term is due to end next year.

Opponents of the move say that rewriting the constitution to accommodate Obasanjo would undermine Nigeria's fragile democracy and possibly lead to the dissolution of a country that already is fractured along ethnic and religious lines.

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