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Nigeria, Poised To Reclaim Past Glory?

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A country with diverse cultures, traditions and interests, more than 140 million people, an oil rich giant with a land mass of approximately 923,773 sq km, Nigeria is indeed endowed with human and natural resources.

After gaining independence in 1960, the country with a complexity of different administrations of both military and civilian, has had her fair share of wars, riots, ethnic and religious rivalry.

Although a creation of European ambition, 51 years after, the country has yet to get to the peak of her potential.

Issues of insecurity, unemployment and lack of power, lack of faith in the health and education sectors still plague the nation.

However, on the heels of its 51st Independence anniversary, many are agitating for the sleeping giant to be roused from its sleep and reclaim its former glory.

For the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Joy Emordi there is every reason to be thankful to God for attaining this age, though not yet perfect, Nigeria has tried to develop in spite of all odds.

“There is no way you can have a perfect situation in anything so I must say that Nigeria has tried to develop given the challenges of multi-ethnicity, multi-religion.

“She was able to harmonise all these things to make the stride even though we may feel that we’ve not developed as much as we think we could have done.’’

She attributed the non perfection to the incessant coups that robbed the country of many years of development.

“It did a lot in trying to stunt our rate of development vis-à-vis other African countries or even other countries of the world like Malaysia that we started at the same time with, but it didn’t have as many coups like we had.’’

Emordi said the coups were responsible for the lack of focus because “before then development in agriculture and solid minerals were fast, but when we started having incessant coups, it dis-organised a lot of things.

“The polity was so dis-organised that we just started picking bits and pieces but I thank God that we now have what I can call consistent democracy unlike what it was.’’

Emordi said that focus should be diverted from the oil sector to other sectors like agriculture to provide for the teeming populace and also create employment for the youth.

She added that the agricultural sector if properly developed would not only create staple food for the country but would also encourage foreign investors and provide other means of revenue generation through trade and investment.

According to her, the nation has a lot of potentials, President Goodluck Jonathan should identify them and tap into them for the development of the nation.

On the issue of constitution amendment, she said it’s a long and tortuous one, but is already in the review process.

She said emphasis would be placed on state creation because of equity.

“If we are talking about equity there is need to have maybe equality of states in a zone, a situation whereby we have some with seven, some five there is still need for us to push up the zones with less number of states.’’

Emordi, however, described the thriving peaceful relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government as harmonious.

“That’s exactly what my ambition here is, my mission and vision is to build a strong harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislature based on love for Nigeria, patriotism, respect and trust.’’

She said the relationship was capable of fostering faster development “instead of spending most of the time quarrelling which will delay consideration of bills and assent to bills because it is only when you have a peaceful atmosphere between the two that the nation will be able to develop”.

Emordi appealed to all Nigerians to be prayerful saying “all these people that are bombing people, we have to continue praying for them to have a change of mind. It’s only through peace that we can achieve something in this country, we can’t achieve anything through violence.

Some other Nigerians, however, believe that despite all the problems trailing the nation’s democracy, someday the country will achieve her goal.

Tolu Adelakin, a youth corps member, said: “I think this is just a trying time for Nigeria, I know a time will come when Nigeria will be better because Nigeria of today cannot be compared to four years ago, the will of the people has started to manifest, but we really want them to do more.

“Look at the elections of times past, we could really tell that the people’s will was not carried out, but in the last elections we saw that there was a bit of revolution in Nigeria where the masses stood up and said this is what we want.

“ I know that time will come when it will be the people’s will that will be done.’’

Veronica Chukwu, a civil servant, said these are “trying moments for Nigeria and we believe that with God all things are possible, so if we keep praying, and trying our best, humanely and economically we will be able to put ourselves together and organise ourselves, to achieve what Nigeria is meant to achieve.

“I don’t think we should give up despite the fact that so many problems are coming. I believe that we are not losing hope, I personally I’m not losing hope because I believe that God made Nigeria for a purpose and we are really going to get there”.

After 51 years, Nigerians believe the country is poised to reclaim the past glory.

Folarin writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Folasade Folarin

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Checking Financial Leakages In NASS

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The National Assembly makes laws, controls the finances of the nation and plays a role in checking the actions of government and the ministries.
In spite of these functions, critics note that governance ought to be about the people and better life for the masses but the present situation in the National Assembly in that regard has fallen below the expectations of the electorate.
A social critic, Dr Obed Oduah, says that presidential form of government, especially in the conduct of the National Assembly matters that border on assets’ boarding and sales, is worrisome.
He observes that although the National Assembly is made up of elected representatives with defined responsibilities, the cost of running the two chambers — the Senate and the House of Representatives — calls for concern.
Many Nigerians believe that the economy is groaning under the heavy weight of excessive cost of governance and they have been asking what could be done to reduce the cost of government, especially by the National Assembly.
They cite a report that the authorities of the legislature allegedly sold official property such as cars and other public utilities at low prices in which Land Cruiser Jeep purchased on tax payers’ money for N26 million could be sold to a member of the National Assembly at N1 million.
The Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership and Strategy and Development, Dr Otive Igbuzor, says that the high cost of governance has impeded economic development in the country.
According to him, the problems are not unconnected with corruption and wastages in governance and, above all, the high cost of doing government business, especially in the National Assembly.
A concerned citizen, Mr Feyi Olubusayo, an economist, recalls that the 2019 budget makes provision for N5.5 billion for the purchase of “expensive’’ cars for members of the National Assembly to replace the cars bought four years ago.
He expresses concern that the members of the 8th Senate have gone away with the cars as “parting gifts’’, observing that the new cars may also go the same way if adequate measure is not put in place to check it.
He also observes that a vote of N139 billion for the National Assembly in the 2018 Appropriation Act is much.
But the Senate has described the public condemnation of its planned purchase of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) amounting to N5.5 billion for the senators as an insult.
The Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, said that the status of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not undeserving of an SUV.
He said that each of the 109 senators in the upper chamber would get one SUV, which would be paid for at the end of their four-year legislative tenure.
He said the burden on the shoulders of the senator was not a mean task and that an SUV for their work was not too much.
“It is an insult to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria. It is an insult.
“The N5.5 billion is from the National Assembly fund and it is budgeted for every year, which they will pay back at the end of the tenure.
Irrespective of this position in the Senate, Dr Abbey Ibude, a critic, insists that “a huge portion of the country’s resources is allocated to servicing a tiny fraction of the population who are public office holders, especially the National Assembly members.
“With little left for the provision of social infrastructure, the majority is entrenched in extreme poverty, which is why the acting Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Shettima Abba-Gana, canvasses a methodical reduction in the cost of governance.
“The guiltiest parties are the Executive and Legislative arms, although the judiciary is not blameless.
“Ministers, their aides, senators, representatives, state lawmakers, commissioners, local government chairmen and other public officials maintain expensive convoys and fly in expensive modes of transportation’’.
Also, Sen. Shehu Sani, former senator from Kaduna State, notes that a senator received N13.5 million as “running cost” every month.
“This is outside of the N750, 000 monthly salary, N200 million annually for constituency allowance and other undeclared allowances.
“Some of the senators were former governors, after serving out their eight-year tenure as governors, receive mega pensions for life.
“It is laughable because these governors served their states for just eight years or less. It is daylight robbery of public fund.
“These governors earned top rates while in office and used chartered/private jets, although their citizens live in penury’’, he said.
Similarly, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts recently, observed that the country had not been witnessing prudent use of government resources.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Kingsley Chinda, said that the lawmakers were currently examining the annual reports by the Auditor-General of the Federation submitted to the Legislature.
“Generally, what we have observed is that not much has changed from the reckless system that we have operated in Nigeria. Not much has changed. Public spending is still not very responsible and so, we need to begin to change.
“One of the problems we have is that our institutions are very weak; institutions are not strengthened; the government is not making deliberate efforts to strengthen institutions,’’ he said.
However, members of the National Assembly have vowed to fight corruption through aggressive oversight functions and probe of petitions against public officers.
They also pledged to ensure adequate check on the executive arm of government but would not do so through confrontation.
The federal parliamentarians are also unanimous in their decision to work as a team irrespective of political affiliations to collectively tackle the myriad of problems confronting Nigerians.
A member of the House of Representatives from Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency in Benue, Francis Agbo, promised to support other members to make life extremely difficult for public office holders who might wish to loot Nigeria’s treasury, even in the National Assembly.
“We intend to minimise the negative perceptions that Nigerians have about the National Assembly.
“We will enthrone more transparency in our business. We want people to know that we are the parliamentarians for Nigerians, not parliamentarians for our pockets.
“We intend to strengthen internal democracy. Many of our people don’t know what they call internal democracy”.
Olaitan writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.

 

Kayode Olaitan

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Checking Financial Leakages In NASS

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The National Assembly makes laws, controls the finances of the nation and plays a role in checking the actions of government and the ministries.
In spite of these functions, critics note that governance ought to be about the people and better life for the masses but the present situation in the National Assembly in that regard has fallen below the expectations of the electorate.
A social critic, Dr Obed Oduah, says that presidential form of government, especially in the conduct of the National Assembly matters that border on assets’ boarding and sales, is worrisome.
He observes that although the National Assembly is made up of elected representatives with defined responsibilities, the cost of running the two chambers — the Senate and the House of Representatives — calls for concern.
Many Nigerians believe that the economy is groaning under the heavy weight of excessive cost of governance and they have been asking what could be done to reduce the cost of government, especially by the National Assembly.
They cite a report that the authorities of the legislature allegedly sold official property such as cars and other public utilities at low prices in which Land Cruiser Jeep purchased on tax payers’ money for N26 million could be sold to a member of the National Assembly at N1 million.
The Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership and Strategy and Development, Dr Otive Igbuzor, says that the high cost of governance has impeded economic development in the country.
According to him, the problems are not unconnected with corruption and wastages in governance and, above all, the high cost of doing government business, especially in the National Assembly.
A concerned citizen, Mr Feyi Olubusayo, an economist, recalls that the 2019 budget makes provision for N5.5 billion for the purchase of “expensive’’ cars for members of the National Assembly to replace the cars bought four years ago.
He expresses concern that the members of the 8th Senate have gone away with the cars as “parting gifts’’, observing that the new cars may also go the same way if adequate measure is not put in place to check it.
He also observes that a vote of N139 billion for the National Assembly in the 2018 Appropriation Act is much.
But the Senate has described the public condemnation of its planned purchase of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) amounting to N5.5 billion for the senators as an insult.
The Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, said that the status of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not undeserving of an SUV.
He said that each of the 109 senators in the upper chamber would get one SUV, which would be paid for at the end of their four-year legislative tenure.
He said the burden on the shoulders of the senator was not a mean task and that an SUV for their work was not too much.
“It is an insult to say that a senator of the Federal Republic cannot ride a jeep in Nigeria. It is an insult.
“The N5.5 billion is from the National Assembly fund and it is budgeted for every year, which they will pay back at the end of the tenure.
Irrespective of this position in the Senate, Dr Abbey Ibude, a critic, insists that “a huge portion of the country’s resources is allocated to servicing a tiny fraction of the population who are public office holders, especially the National Assembly members.
“With little left for the provision of social infrastructure, the majority is entrenched in extreme poverty, which is why the acting Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Shettima Abba-Gana, canvasses a methodical reduction in the cost of governance.
“The guiltiest parties are the Executive and Legislative arms, although the judiciary is not blameless.
“Ministers, their aides, senators, representatives, state lawmakers, commissioners, local government chairmen and other public officials maintain expensive convoys and fly in expensive modes of transportation’’.
Also, Sen. Shehu Sani, former senator from Kaduna State, notes that a senator received N13.5 million as “running cost” every month.
“This is outside of the N750, 000 monthly salary, N200 million annually for constituency allowance and other undeclared allowances.
“Some of the senators were former governors, after serving out their eight-year tenure as governors, receive mega pensions for life.
“It is laughable because these governors served their states for just eight years or less. It is daylight robbery of public fund.
“These governors earned top rates while in office and used chartered/private jets, although their citizens live in penury’’, he said.
Similarly, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts recently, observed that the country had not been witnessing prudent use of government resources.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Kingsley Chinda, said that the lawmakers were currently examining the annual reports by the Auditor-General of the Federation submitted to the Legislature.
“Generally, what we have observed is that not much has changed from the reckless system that we have operated in Nigeria. Not much has changed. Public spending is still not very responsible and so, we need to begin to change.
“One of the problems we have is that our institutions are very weak; institutions are not strengthened; the government is not making deliberate efforts to strengthen institutions,’’ he said.
However, members of the National Assembly have vowed to fight corruption through aggressive oversight functions and probe of petitions against public officers.
They also pledged to ensure adequate check on the executive arm of government but would not do so through confrontation.
The federal parliamentarians are also unanimous in their decision to work as a team irrespective of political affiliations to collectively tackle the myriad of problems confronting Nigerians.
A member of the House of Representatives from Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency in Benue, Francis Agbo, promised to support other members to make life extremely difficult for public office holders who might wish to loot Nigeria’s treasury, even in the National Assembly.
“We intend to minimise the negative perceptions that Nigerians have about the National Assembly.
“We will enthrone more transparency in our business. We want people to know that we are the parliamentarians for Nigerians, not parliamentarians for our pockets.
“We intend to strengthen internal democracy. Many of our people don’t know what they call internal democracy”.
Olaitan writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.

 

Kayode Olaitan

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Tam-George: The Pains Of Defeat And Compulsive Urge To Lie For Relevance

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It was no coincidence that the new Spokesman of the AAC/APC/ARMY ALLIANCE, Mr Austin Tam-George chose yesterday to rant over Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s praise for Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili. It was aimed at diverting mass global attention from the unprecedented victory of Rivers people at the Governorship Election Tribunal.
The popular maxim here is: “as e sweet us, e go dey pain dem”. Rivers people were in a jubilant mood and there was no need to allow the stench of lies and rants from a disgruntled AAC/APC/ARMY ALLIANCE spokesman spoil the celebration of victory over the forces of darkness and hate.
The best Tam-George can do is to sit in his corner and spew lies. No single fellow is deceived.  Rivers people just came out of an election last March.  They stood with Governor Wike against the forces of the Army and F-SARs.  Two of the Local Government Areas where the people stood firm to defend their results were Okrika and Ogu/Bolo Local Government Areas.  Tam-George hails from Okrika.  In these two Local Government Areas, women dared the military and insisted that their votes must count. Specifically in Ogu/Bolo, there was this viral video of women pulling down a soldier who scaled the fence to snatch collated results.
The Okrika women were passionate because Governor Wike in the course of his first term reached them through projects much more than Tam-George’s new financial director ever did in his eight years in Government.  This defence of the Rivers mandate reverberated across the state.
I wonder why Tam-George and his co-travellers in the ill-fated AAC/APC/ARMY alliance think that the Rivers State Governor will shy away from the truth. I wonder why Tam-George and his sponsors think that by playing the Ostrich, they can wish away the massive acceptance Governor Wike enjoys amongst all Rivers ethnic nationalities.
To begin with, what Tam-George ‘nicodemusly’ called State Event was the closing ceremony of the first 100days of Governor Wike in his historic second term.  It was the Commissioning of the dualised Birabi Street.  That is one of the major arteries into the New GRA of Port Harcourt.  The Street has Hotel Presidential and the Headquarters of Salvation Ministry.  For about three weeks, Governor Wike rolled out iconic projects in different sectors. Between September 9 and 27, 2019 the entire country watched as projects were unveiled to the benefit of the people. Whilst Tam-George served here, he understood the hard work that was required to supervise, complete and commission projects.  But for politically induced amnesia and the compulsive need to lie for relevance, Tam-George wouldn’t be speaking anyhow.
Whilst the Commissioning Programme lasted, Tam-George held his peace. When it was concluded, Tam-George tried to whip up sentiments on the basis of frank accolades showered on Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili.  If Tam-George was objective, he would have commended the giant strides of Governor Wike, which leaders of APC, PDP and a political Nigerians have acknowledged.
The following projects were commissioned to mark Governor Wike’s First 100days in his second term: Bonny Street, Adaka , Boro/Elliot Henry Streets, Government Secondary School,  Ubima,  Dualised  –  Birabi Street , Dualised Rumukwurusi -Elelenwo – Akpajo Road , Sea bed Model School, Port Harcourt   , Rumuwoji Market , Government Craft Development Centre,  Port Harcourt , Civil Servants  Quarters   , Real Madrid  Academy , Rivers State University,  Students Union Secretariat, Ogbum-Nu-Abali Fruit Garden Market, Rivers State NLC Secretariat , Engineer Lawrence Anele Amadi Road (Former Shell Location Road) and Port Harcourt Pleasure Park Cinema. Tam-George failed to acknowledge the positive aspects of these projects for fear of being sidelined by his paymasters.
On the day in question, Governor Wike made very profound statements. Fundamentally, he acknowledged the role that Former Rivers State Governor,  Dr Peter Odili played in the emergence of an Ikwerre man as Governor.  In his desperation to criticise, Tam-George failed to realise that Odili is from ONELGA and therefore not an Ikwerre man. What is wrong in showing public gratitude?  Tam-George would have everyone bite the finger that fed them. Governor Wike will never be in that league of ingratitude.  The highest exposure that Tam-George, has ever had, was freely extended to him by Governor Wike.  He has continued to display dare-devil ingratitude.
Beyond praising Dr Peter Odili for his gesture towards the Ikwerre, Governor Wike declared that all the present crop of leaders in Rivers State is the political offsprings of the leader.  These leaders are from Ikwerre, Ogoni, Kalabari,  Okrika,  Etche, Andoni, Ibani, Ekpeye,  Ndoki, Orashi etc.  This is one truth, the AAC/APC/ARMY alliance dislikes. But there is nobody in that team that was not watered by the Odili Political Family.  The last time that Governor Wike praised Odili, the same after the confirmation of his election, the same integrity challenged charlatan’s cried blue murder.
Tam-George in his usual fictional style attempted to dance around important issues like a fraudulent salesman.  On the issue of insecurity, it is unfortunate that Tam-George would mention Rivers State.  It is known that Rivers State, despite the few security challenges is one of the safest places to be in the country.  It is safer than the entire north and the South-west.  With the provision of logistics and finances by the Rivers State Government, Operation Sting has made sure that Rivers people live in relative security.  As I write, the Federal High Court has cleared the Rivers State Government to commence the operation of Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps.  This agency was stopped by the APC Federal Government through the Nigerian Army.  The National Security Architecture has failed.  Therefore, Governor Wike deserves commendation for developing a functional security system in Rivers State.
Our compulsive liar talked about Rumuepirikom, the governor’s home community.  Like other parts of the state, Governor Wike is constructing roads within the area and empowering the people through programmes. The First Set of Roads delivered under the First Phase of Rumuepirikom Internal Roads include: Engineer Lawrence Anele Amadi Road (Former Shell Location Road), Ekani Street,  Maxwell Street and Odoli Street .
Tam-George and his sponsors have over-flogged the lie on the issue of pension. As Tam-George is aware, Governor Wike inherited four months of pension arrears in 2015 and cleared them. Since then, monthly pension has been regular. Not even one month has been left unpaid.  However,  there was a challenge with the Contributory Pension Scheme,  which Governor Wike inherited from the immediate past Administration.  That aspect needed the amendment of the law.
In fulfilment of the pledge made by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike after he signed into law, the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019), the Rivers State Government commenced the payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme. All other Pensioners who are not under the Contributory Pension Scheme have been receiving their monthly pensions since Governor Wike assumed office on May 29, 2015. The other challenges within the pension scheme are being addressed.
On Risonpalm, Tam-George displayed his deliberate political ignorance.  First, Risonpalm is now under the management of Siat Nigeria Limited.  Working with the Wike Administration, that facility has been revived and is creating mass employment for the people.
Recent investments led to the emergence of a state of the art oil mill, with fruit bunches being harvested in commercial quantity both in Ubima and Elele estates. Ubima and Elele Plantations have been cleaned up and first class maintenance operations and practices are constantly applied. Replanting for the Elele estates of the Former Risonpalm has reached over 5000 hectares since 2017. This is the place that Tam-George claimed has been left to rot.
The issue of Former Risonpalm leads me to that of unemployment.  Even in the Former Risonpalm, thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created. Same for different project sites across the state. Skilled and unskilled jobs have been created in several thousands. Direct employment into Government Agencies, the type Tam-George is talking about, will be kick-started for teachers and civil servants in line with Governor Wike’s directive.
I saw the tears that Tam-George shed on the three flyover bridges billed for Port Harcourt.  The AAC/APC/ARMY ALLIANCE spokesman said that the projects would only benefit the contractors.  I never knew that the Tam-George has transited from lying to childish comedy.  The construction of these flyover bridges will last over a year.  In the course of construction, the contractors will hire thousands of skilled and unskilled labour, create indirect employment, engage local sub-contractors for supplies and further energise the economy. At the end of the day, better infrastructure would be delivered to Rivers State and the challenging traffic on Aba Road and Rumuokoro addressed.
Rivers State Government over the years has invested in the reconstruction of key Federal Roads. At the last count, the Federal Government owes Rivers State Government over N80billion for such projects.  The Federal Government refunded monies owed other states, but did not refund that of Rivers State.  To worsen the situation, the Federal Government announced that States are no longer allowed to intervene in Federal Roads.
The above point is important because all key Federal roads into Rivers State are in very deplorable condition. The East-West Road, the Port Harcourt-Aba stretch of Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway. The two seaports have also been abandoned.  In fact, there is no form of Federal presence in Rivers State. These are issues that don’t bother Tam-George of the AAC/APC/ARMY alliance.  He is more concerned with being relevant in this rejected alliance.
Recall that Tam-George on the sponsorship of a company with economic interest in OML 25 lied against the Rivers State Governor.  Without knowing the details of the governor’s intervention, he pocketed money and held several press conferences to spew trash. Today, the matter ended with Shell Petroleum Development Company resuming production at OML 25, with a charge from the Rivers State Governor to implement the GMOU entered with Stakeholder Communities at the Government House Port Harcourt.  The impasse was resolved simply because Governor Wike intervened.
For Governor Wike, it is Rivers first.  He promotes the interests of all Rivers communities. All the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State have key projects of the Wike Administration. No Section of the state has been neglected in terms of projects and appointments.  Governor Wike runs a pro-Rivers Government.  He is a pro-Rivers man. He is a Rivers man. He hails from Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.  He is an unrepentant Ikwerre man.
Inspecting projects earlier this week, Governor Wike reiterated his guiding philosophy: “What is important is that when we make a promise, we fulfil that promise.  We have no room for excuses. We will continue to promote the good of our people. For me, everything is Rivers.  Whatever will improve the lives of Rivers people, we will do it”.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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