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IGALA, WE SHALL RETURN-Col. Suleiman Babanawa

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The lgala are nostalgic and proud about the exploits and accomplishment of their ancestors.

That is the way of a proud race, one that has never been colonised by any black race. Unlike other ethnic nationalities in Central Nigeria, the Igala did not experience ‘foreign’ rule, the type that the Fulani Jihadists brought to Northern Nigeria.
We were not conquered by the Fulanis or Jukuns or any tribe becsuse of the type of leaders and the quality of the average Igala man, There were personal sacrifices made by our leaders and even our illustrious princess paid the supreme price to save her people. Igala warriors led by the Ibaji conquered the Afemai, the Esan and fought a bitter expansionist war with the Bini army. They gave us that place of pride in history and for that we remain eternally grateful for their efforts.
. However, today the world of the lgala nation has changed as the craze now is for money and the good things of life.
In the course of time, I identified some internal flaws in our character which are militating against the political, economic and social progress of our ethnic nationality. The folk at home, the ‘boys’ and the leaders are to blame for the situation we now find ourselves. Let me explain.
*The Folks* The urge to make it in quick time, build a house and own a car has reduced the self esteem of the Igala resident at home, both the young and the old.. Poverty, hunger and relative deprivation has done so much damage to the concience of our people as they have been reduced to unwilling beggers. If you call any meeting today the mind of our people go straight to money ….how much is he giving? Their interest is in the morsel, not from whom or where it is coming from. And that was the reason that aided Mr Yahaya Bello the Ebira governorship candidate to make inroad in Igalaland in 2019 elections. I wish to state without fear of contradiction that leaders are recognised by the amount of money they doll out to people and the frequecy they ‘service’ followers. The folks are not loyal to anybody or any political party. They are like your smartphones, no credit, no deal.
*The ‘Boys’* The ‘boys’ include people of all grades, from teenagers to octogenarians, who are able to demonstrate their loyalty through sycophancy, backstabbing, treachery or shedding of blood. They include illitrates the political thugs, the educated, the elite and the extremely poor. They live in Igala land, in Abuja and other cities in Nigeria and in the diaspora. They usually identify themslves as politicians and honourables,Elders etc the ‘boys’ could be tricksters who know the most effective prayer men, marabouts, imams and prayer warriors. They inundate politicians and money men of Igala extraction with clever proposals and irresistible verbal presentations on how to win elections and how to exercise power. The ‘boys’ can say or do anything to extract money from would- be ‘exellencies’. The ‘boys’ can and often serve more than 2 masters.They quarantine gubernatorial aspirants and candidates and determine who talks to ‘his excellency’ and who does not. They share appointments into the cabinet of the ‘governor elect’ before the election is done.
The ‘boys’ are always on the move, energetic and full of ideas.They are always available to hail their paymasters. In public gatherings they defend the sordid past of their masters who did not live to expectation in their past leadership roles. They are the attack dogs if anyone tries to be different or fails to identify with the ideas and pronouncements of their paymasters. The boys kill the Igala nation in instalments as a result of greed and the struggle to belong.
*The Leaders* Leadership in our land is always a function of money, how deep your pocket is. Our people have never lacked leaders, it is just that the leaders never last on the stage for obvious reasons–lack of money. There has been a great turnover of leaders since 2003 when Abubakar Audu lost his re-election bid. Leaders came out in their numbers trying to rule the state. Many people are no longer leaders, again for the reasons of lack of resources.Some past leaders who ruled the state were not prepared for leadership. They came, saw and conquered resources for themselves. They did not impact the lives of their people meaningfully. They left goverment house richer than they came in, even as their people have no water to drink and no electricity to grow their cottage industries. However, they would empower some cronies especially chief thugs and fronts. It is interesting that several years after they vacate power, our former governors try to castigate another government for underdeveloping their people. Our political leaders would wail for the people and call for unity and reconcilliation when they or their wards want to contest election. Is it not time we talk about remorse and restitution? The people are united in their poverty and hunger. All we need at this point is to reconcile our concience with lost opportunities.
*The Blame Game?* The blame game does not help us but the aim of a post mortem is to learn some lessons and avoid certain human erors that should never happen again. If you go to Ebiraland today you will understand what your people expect you to do for them if you are in the driving seat. Good hospital, world class water project, institutions of higher education, electricity etc etc. I love the transformation of Okene, the Confluence University and its Teaching Hospital under construction. I admire the feat of the Ebiranization of the top echelon of Kogi State Civil Service and the heavy presence of Anebira in the Boards and parastatals of the Federal Govermentof Nigeria. Tough sons get such things done for their people, broken natives are too naive to contemplate that. Even at Ogugu, in Igalaland, see what Mr Edward Onoja is doing for his people. Never has any project of that magnitude been done anywhere in Igalaland for the benefit of the common man. That is how I rate leaders and leadership. Any other criteria?
WHAT MUST BE DONE
My observation is that we wish for better days ahead without willing to pay the price. Our hope and strength remain in our youths but most of them are the ‘boys’, their education and exposure not withstanding. The unfortunate fact is that most of our people, especially the youths toy with their future. They follow feudalists and mercantile politicians who do not know the pain of our people. Of what use are leaders who maintained cowardly silence in the face of injustice, cruelty and all forms of oppression metted to their peoplle? They do not risk anything for the sake of the people, even as they could buy the people guns and cutlasses to protect votes for themselves.
The Igala are nostangic and fervently desire to return to their rightful position in Kogi politics. I suggest the following measures that are necessary and of immediate importance:
*Enlightenment*. Enlighten and continue to educate your family on politics in lgalaland and Kogi State in general.. Impress it on the minds of every members of your family that lgala people have resoved to vote only for an Igala candidate. Your effort should be directed at members of your family and extended family, inlaws and friends.
*Registration of voters* Ensure that members of your family have voters card. Those who lost theirs due to whatever reason shoud go and get their cards back with effect from May/June 2021 as directed by INEC.
*Search For Good Learders*. Those who know the traits of good leaders should strive to get them out. The leaders must be knowledgeable,versatile and honest. Our leaders must be ready to restore our broken spirit. The leaders must be Igala body and soul and loyal to our race. They must not be bought and carried away by sycophants and the mafia(both internal and external). He must not be a religius fanatic. Leaders who did their earlier education in Igala land or have once lived among the people should be at advantage. Leaders who live outside our shores in the diaspora but have record of attending to and solving community problems are at great advantage. The search should be meticulous. Dont just accept anything imposed on you.Open your eyes, upgrade your morale values and pray. Search for young vibrant leaders, they are there!!
*Prepare For War.* As you whole heartedly resolve to serve your nation, be on your guard. Watch your back. Your preparation must start today, not January 2023. Election in Kogi is a war in many ways. There is the ta-ta ta-ta-phase. There is kill and go phase. There is INEC abracadabra phase, the tribunal jibiti phase and the take- it -or leave -it verdict of my Lords. I dont advocate for violence but prepare to stay alive.
*Look for Sponsors* Our people must look for sponsorship from among our sons and daughters to assist with the huge cost of running a gubernatorial election. Here our former Gorvenors must take the lead.
*Assert Yourselves*.Igalas must be ready to assert themselves. For any party in this countr to think that they can hurt the feelings of the lgala people without consequences is unbelievable. Its only the eyes of a child that fears a painted devil. We must collectively come to terms with our fate.
*We must organize*. The power of the poor lies in their ability to organize. We must cordinate ourslves in each of our hamlets, communities and towns. Lack of unity is being tauted as one of our drawbacks.Idont think so. Its just a cheap blackmail. Unity of purpose is what we need in Igala land.Not the utopian unity we call for everyday as if we are at war with each other. In any case the actions and inactions of every lgala son and daughter (not necessarily the leaders) will largely determine our sense of direction.
*Shun Cowardice* I regret to say that most lgala leadears love their safety and security so much that they preferred to be seen but not to be heard. for the fear of government thugs, security officials, armed robbers, bandits kidnappers etc. They fear lgala land and speak as if this is Borno State or a war .Leadears must speak up and kick where necessary. If leaders fear humilation and persecution, they are not yet leaders. What is leadership without courage. I wish Dino Melaye were an lgala. That is why I love Austin Okai and Austin Otene, my young Turks..Remember:”No guts, no glory”. And you know that.
*Enthrone justice, Shun Violence* It is important that we enthrone justice in our land, even as we must shun violence. I feel sad and devasted when ever l see or hear of injustice and violence among our people. We must do everything to recognise the right and dignity of each and every member of our great nation.We must fight security threats and breaches by exposing criminals in our domain
I wish to thank Dr Aminu Audu ffrom UK for his short comment on the need for us to radically change our ways froom greed and corruption to enable us choose the right leaders. It is this comment that motivated me to write this piece.

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HOUSE OF REPS:Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala Who is next? (Olamaboro)

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In an ideal democracy, the rotational formula is very sacrosanct in other to protect the involvement of the minority in a country, State, Senatorial district, and federal constituency respectively.


Ankpa federal constituency in kogi state has been maintaining this rotational formula since the country returned to a Democratic system of government.
In 1999, honorable Abimaje Muazu from Ankpa local government was elected and happened to be the first rep member after the country returned to democracy.
In 2003, senator Attai Ali Aidoko from Olamaboro local government was elected and was still reelected in 2007 consecutively, after the completion of his second term in 2011, Hon Idris Muhammad Ibro from Omala local government was voted massively based on the principle of rotational method which the good and loving people of Ankpa federal constituency has been maintaining.

In 2015 Hon. Hassan Omale from Ankpa local government was elected, during this period, all the major political parties zoned their party tickets to Ankpa local government to enable them to produce the next house of rep member, it was then that distinguished Hon Hassan Omale of all progressive Congress (APC) emerged victoriously in the general election.
Hon Hassan Omale lost reelection but despite that APC, PDP and other major political parties still zone their party tickets to Ankpa to enable them to complete their second card, it was in that contest that honorable Halims won on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC) who is currently the member representing Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala federal constituency at the green Chamber. based on the historical background given thus far, Ankpa local government has ruled for 12 years leading above olamaboro and omala local government respectively since the returned to democracy.
Standing on the history given below it is now unmistakable that it is the turn of olamaboro local government to produce the next House of Representatives member in 2023 because olamaboro local government has never against the zoning formula and this has created love, conformity, and purposeful leadership among the three local governments that made up the federal constituency.
As the 2023 election draws nearer,we appeal to all the major parties in Ankpa federal constituency to zone their party tickets to Olamaboro local government to enable them to produce the House of Representative member to continue with the zoning strategy that has been in places to keep going if this zoning method is maintained there will be compassionate and again there won’t be any means of politics of one-sided or dominance but uniformity
Let us all termed with this reality for the refinement of our federal constituency.

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God bless Ankpa federal constituency.

God bless Kogi State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abutu Silas Ojochenemi

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What Have We Done For the Next Generation?, by Hassan Gimba

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Our next-generation may not know what our generation knew, may not have what we had. We have failed to give them what the previous generation gave us.

The peace and tranquillity we knew, the comfort and ease we had, the security and brotherhood we enjoyed, the careful laying of the foundation for our future we witnessed – all these we have failed to transfer to the next generation because we have thrown away the baton.

The problems of Nigeria are such that you get lost when talking about them. Where do you start from? The betrayal of confidence by leadership that much hope was placed on? Or is it the systemic and systematic decay in its affairs? The “me first” attitude of its people that see the country as milking cow? Our lack of seriousness over what we should be serious about?

In Chinua Achebe’s book The Trouble With Nigeria, published in 1983, he professed that the only trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership.

He wrote that with outstanding leaders, Nigeria could resolve its inherent problems, such as tribalism, lack of patriotism, social injustice and the cult of mediocrity, indiscipline, and corruption.

However, Joseph F. Mali, in his A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, thinks differently. He thinks corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. He opined that though corruption and misrule have done terrible harm to the country; they are by-products of something in the same way smoke is the by-product of fire.

The real trouble with Nigeria, says Mali, “is the lifestyle of profound selfishness the people and their leaders have in common”. And the nation still bleeds because of this evil, he said. Unless Nigerians cure this (disease), he maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed. “In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo!” Since Nigeria’s problem is moral, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical. He proposes A Quiet Revolution as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not a French-style rebellion with masses on the streets and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy. Rather, the Quiet Revolution is an interior change, an individual transformation. As long as this change has not happened, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.

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This is quite in tandem with the Qur’anic verse that says Allah (SWT) changes not the condition of people until they change what is in their hearts. Here, the verse is widely quoted out of context by people wanting to give their idols in power excuses. People don’t just wake up and at same time say: “We must change.” He always gives them someone who sensitises and organises them by leading them as their guide. Such a person is the leader; even the greatest revolutions and mass uprisings in history have guides, so it still comes back to the question of leadership.

God sends prophets to lead people to cleanse their hearts and become new. One by one, people change internally and get transformed individually, as Mali said, and collectively a changed society is born. There is always one who is the society’s mirror..

In July last year, I wrote on this page “God raises the living out of the dead and brings forth light out of the dark, He raises from among a people their type who leads them from deprivation to well being. Out of the palace of the Pharaoh, He raised Moses (AS); out of the family and society of idolaters, He brought forth Abraham (AS), and out of the heathendom of Arabia He revealed Muhammad (SAW).

“Chaka the Zulu founded the Zulu Empire and led them for twelve years before he was assassinated on September 22, 1828, He moulded his people into a dominating fighting force never seen before in southern Africa. Mao Zedong, known as Chairman Mao, was the founding father of The People’s Republic of China and laid the foundation of what China now is. You can go on and count leaders who changed their people and their countries’ fortunes by leading by example. Cuba’s Fidel Castro was one; we also had Muammar Gaddafi from Libya, Dr Martin Luther King who raised the consciousness of Blacks, Dr Muhammad Mahathir of Malaysia and Mahatma Gandhi of India.

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“These leaders raised the consciousness level of the people and changed them to better human beings, by being what they wanted their people to be. They did not look their people in the face condescendingly and patronisingly, point a finger at them singing “change” while they indulged in the vices of yore. Mao viewed such leaders as “swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly.”

Perchance this is one reason in 1999, years after he published his work, and despite Mali’s treatise, Achebe still maintained that Nigeria’s problem is that of leadership. He had returned to the country after a decade overseas receiving treatment for a back injury sustained in an automobile accident. At his home in the South East, he met with Cunliffe-Jones to discuss the Nigerian crisis. Achebe’s view had not changed at all. He reiterated his old message: “If poor leadership caused the problem then, it is still the case today.”

Someone once explained our social and political reality: “those in power enjoyed the oil money while most other Nigerians languished in poverty. The masses, he said, could be described as innocent sufferers, like the biblical Job, or the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. (Nigerian masses) watch their leaders ruin the nation but could do nothing to stop them”, he concluded.

Unfortunately, the quality of leadership seems to dwindle, deteriorating by the day despite Nigeria being more populated than forty years ago when Achebe wrote his political polemic. We have more professors, more PhDs, more professionals, more intellectuals, more exposure, more enlightenment – more everything. Yet we have regressed so much concerning providing quality leaders and leadership in the country.

Because of this dysfunction in providing formal leadership responsive to yearnings of people, tribal quasi-irredentists and jingoists have appeared on the landscape, setting the agenda.

The South-East produced Zik of Africa, Eton College-trained Ojukwu, Kingsley Mbadiwe of the Timber and Calibre rhetoric and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary fame. It also produced Alex Ekwueme, intellectual giants like Chuba Okadigbo, etc. Now it has a Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

The South West sired Obafemi Awolowo, Adelabu Adegoke, Lamidi Adedibu, MKO Abiola, Lateef Jakande, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, etc. But now it is Sunday Igboho after Ganiyu Adams.

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The North? The North that produced Aminu Kano, Hassan Usman Katsina, Shehu Shagari, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Waziri Ibrahim has no one now, sadly. It has been searching since the demise of the Sardauna of Sokoto 56 years ago.

The lack of leaders who love this country has been our problem. While current crop of leaders had the best of everything, they have not improved on what they got for those coming after them. The great public school system that groomed them is no more. They prefer to send their children abroad for tertiary education and private schools for their primary and secondary education. The American government recently said about 14,000 Nigerians pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees across communities in their country spent $501 million (about N190 billion) last year. And this is just America!

The public health system that took care of them while growing up is a shadow of itself as private hospitals and clinics have taken over. The leaders now indulge in medical tourism, spending billions of naira in hospitals abroad. In 2016, Price Waterhouse Coopers in its report stated that Nigerians spend $1 billion annually on medical tourism. It also said that 60 per cent of it is from oncology, orthopaedic, nephrology and cardiology patients.

When the world was virtually locked down this time last year because of Covid-19, the average Nigerian patiently waited for conditions to ease. He believed that having realised our incapacity, Nigeria will witness massive developments in its health and education sector and an aggressive drive on food production. Good leaders would also think that way.

It is unfortunate our generation has not replicated for the next generation what last generation did for us. Instead of even giving them peace to do for themselves what we failed to do for them, we are bristling and threatening to push them into turmoil. Turmoil and uncertainty. We better retreat because the path we are treading will not stand us well in the books of posterity.

If we have failed in taking care of their welfare, we should not fail in securing their lives in a united Nigeria and giving them peace to thrive.

Hassan Gimba
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Nigeria’s perennial recession; a result of policy somersault.

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Nigeria will predictably be in recession for a long time. When you keep doing the same thing and expect different results, you will need to check yourself.

It appears we are not in a hurry to live in the reality of the 21st century with others.

I sometimes wonder why we like to put the cart before the horse as a country. There has never been a time when we did anything that was not opposite of what everyone else was doing. Fundamental economics teaches that before you stop importation, you need to have put in place import substitution strategy, and get them working properly before attempting any grandstanding.

Then again, timing is very important in making policy decisions. You cannot wake up from the wrong side of the bed and declare things banned.

It is as insensitive as it is unconstructive.  People have often questioned the reasons for some government policies in Nigeria.

What is more heart breaking is where some ‘supporters’ get the kind of shameless illiteracy with which they defend retrogressive policies. Let us start with the Covid-19 decisions of the government.  As the pandemic was biting hard, incomes were shrinking. That was when we suddenly woke up to ban in a commando style,  a whopping 41 imported items, among which were foodstuff and other consumer goods critical to every day survival.

That is not all o. The people were losing jobs in droves. That means that purchasing power was falling rapidly and the country trapped itself in stagflation. Prices were skyrocketing and there was no purchasing power in the hands of the people. To my surprise, some people who I thought ‘know book’ were  just falling my hands in the halleluya praise singing in honour of the courage with which the government was ‘tackling’ the economy. We would argue it until I had a headache. At some point I couldn’t tell if it was the argument that caused the headaches or the useless virus that trapped all of us in our homes.

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Puerile arguments were advanced in support of the government. I took a look at my then none months old baby and asked her if at that age she could disgrace her father by saying such a meaningless thing. One of the headless statements was that China closed their borders and started agriculture. And boom! They became greater, the China you know today. I was torn between laughter and sorrow.

The story that they did not verify is that China’s maximum ruler, chairman Mao Zedong, threaded the communist path. He closed the boarders and decided on a pilot execution of certain apocryphal economic policies. He closed the Chinese borders to neighbouring countries. And then starvation set in.

Chairman Mao’s decision led to one of the most catastrophic man made starvation in human history which left between 15 to 55 million people dead, and hundreds of people malnourished. That happened between 1959 and 1961. Zedong had no choice but to immediately take steps to reverse the policy.

But ridiculously, that policy was what Zedong called the Great Leap. By 1962, China having seen nwe, reversed themselves and opened their borders. They started an industrialization policy that embraced the domestication of technology. They started to produce for export.

It is the same as Nigeria’s great leap that happened in the midst of a world wide devastation. But wait, who exactly did Nigerians offend that is so unforgiving? Nigeria wanted to leap. Two things happened. She leaped in the darkness of a pandemic with its eyes wide shut! Where did we land? In a circle of inflationary pressures.

First, we ought to have had a solid import substitution plan before talking of shutting down importation. We do not have mechanised agriculture. We want to produce rice for a population of 200 million people with hoes and cutlasses on an unyielding soil. We have no reservoirs where we store excess grains for time of scarcity. What am I even saying, we do not even have enough. Where are we getting the excess from? We might as well be wasting money building silos.

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Even the ones planted are being eaten by the holy cows. Private investors in agriculture have had their farms vandalised by cattle which roam across the country. The famine loving government has encouraged the increased devastation of the farms by failing to call the vandals and bandits to order.

People have abandoned the farms and run away to join the army of the hungry parading the streets in the cities to hustle for the little that’s available. That’s a double whammy. No money and the prices of food are high.

The north east and north west of Nigeria used to be the producer of grains and spices. But not anymore. Boko Haram has killed and maim many a farmer, destroyed promising Micro, Small and Medium Scale businesses like sales of rice, onions, fish etc that accompany farming. They have turned large swaths of thriving villages and towns into desolate, uninhabited lands. The best you get in such places in Borno, Yobe and environs are Internally Displaced People’s camps. Even when those at the camps Internally Displaced People’s camps. Even when those at the camps attempt to do little fishing here and farming there, they are traced to the camps and killed. The survivors have become dependent on the lean resources instead of the contributors that they used to be.

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On all fronts, Nigeria is scoring abysmally low. In the midst of the confusion called policy, the youths decided to make themselves happy by trading in cryptocurrencies.  The government, like the proverbial village people, followed them there and blocked the channel.

Foreign exchange from that sector has been blocked. This is while the entire world is running towards digital currencies o. Big companies have started accepting Bitcoin as payment for their products, the risks not withstanding. Tesla is a major example. Nigeria nko? They banned it. This is digital currency. Then we have a Digital Economy ministry which knows next to nothing about how to rein in the volatility of digital currency. And some bishops, youths etc had the effrontery to carry placards under the hot Abuja sun to assault our collective intelligence that Pantami is doing well as the head of that ministry.

Nigeria will continue in this damnable trajectory unless things change from the anachronism it has adopted as a state policy to what the world has embraced. The worldview of the government is annoyingly too narrow.

May  Nigeria quickly realise that like the ostrich, it is burying its head in the sand while the entire body is outside. Very soon we will be forced to look inwards. The increase in prices are eroding profits and people are getting thrown out of jobs. The current unemployment rate in Nigeria is 33%. Nigeria is among the first three most terrorised country in the world. Nigeria took over from India as the poverty capital of the world in 2019, according to the Austria based World Poverty Clock and The World Bank in separate reports, with 1 person sliding into abject poverty every six minutes.

To be continued.

Alex Agbo is a writer and an economic researcher based in Lagos.

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