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Welcome Remarks by the Senate President at the Resumption of Plenary on July 3rd, 2018

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WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, TO SENATORS OF THE 8TH SENATE ON TUESDAY, ON JULY 3, 2018

PROTOCOL

1. Distinguished colleagues, I welcome you all back to the Senate Chambers after the short recess. I trust that the break has afforded each and every one of us the opportunity to cast our minds back over the last three years, to take stock and assess our performance thus far, and to better plot the way forward as we embark on the last lap of the 8th Senate.

2. As you all know, this Senate clocked its third anniversary while we were on break; and, given the sombre mood of the nation, there was no great celebration. Nonetheless, we had occasion to get an overview of the considerable achievements of this Senate since its inauguration on June 9, 2015. Indeed, we have come a long way, and have set a new bar in the legislative history of this country. We have passed 213 Bills in the period under review and cleared 138 Petitions – surpassing in three years the records of the entire four-year terms of every previous Senate. This is no mean feat. As we hit the home run, therefore, it is important we do not pack-pedal or slow down; we must intensify efforts towards doing all that we are sworn to do for the electorate that voted for us as their representatives.

3. Distinguished colleagues, you will agree with me when I say that the 8th Senate’s achievements would not have been possible without the support of Nigerians. They gave us the mandate and they trusted us to deliver; the people’s confidence in us has been a boon to all our endeavors in this hallowed chamber, and has put a spring in our steps with regard to all legislative activities.

4. With the backing of the people, we have been able to introduce landmark legislations that have helped boost our recovering economy. These include: the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which is the most significant business reform Bill in Nigeria in nearly three decades. As a result of the signing into law of the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Act and the Credit Bureau Reporting Act, for instance, Nigeria was upgraded on the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business ranking. This has been a very welcome development for our
economy and for restoring investor confidence in our business terrain. Other landmark economic Bills include: the Warehouse Receipts Bill, the Nigerian Railways Authority Bill, and the National Transportation Commission Bill.

5. We have given tremendous support to the fight against corruption with the passage of Bills such as: the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, the Witness Protection Bill, the Whistleblower Protection Bill and the Federal Audit Service Commission Bill. You will recall that it was the quick intervention of the 8th National Assembly – through the passage of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill (NFIU) – that saved Nigeria from being expelled from the global community of the Egmont Group.

6. It was in the life of this Senate that we finally ‘split the atom’ of the once intractable Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), after almost two decades in the legislative wilderness. We split the Bill into four manageable parts; and, not only have we passed the first of those, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), we have started work on the remaining three – the Administrative, Fiscal and Host Communities components of the Bill and have already taken them up to Public Hearing stage. The clock is ticking and we must ensure that we conclude work on the remaining PIB Bills as soon as possible. Nigerians deserve no less.

7. Our many interventions over the last three years, have shown that we are a Senate that is responsive to the needs of the people. This is observable in the constitutional amendment Bills that we have passed. Notable among these is the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, which received Presidential assent on May 31, 2018, to wild jubilation around the country, due to the momentous generational shift it is expected to trigger in national leadership, in paving the way for the greater participation of youths in governance. A youth-oriented focus has similarly informed our engagement with relevant organizations on youth development and empowerment, in order to create jobs that will usefully occupy our teeming youths. We should be rightly proud of the milestones we have reached in this regard, because as we all know, youth inclusiveness is key to sustainable democratic governance.

8. As a people-oriented Senate, we have made major interventions on the drug abuse epidemic afflicting our communities, especially the youth demographic. In so doing, we have helped spark a national debate about drug abuse that is now the subject of major media attention. Additionally, we have drafted two Bills to tackle the problem, namely the Drug Control Bill and the Mental Health Bill. It is now incumbent on us to introduce
these Bills and for the legislative process on the two to begin without delay, following their review by the relevant Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders.

9. Among our most transformative achievements, my distinguished colleagues, is the step we have taken to make healthcare a right of Nigerians, and to put it within the reach of our entire population of 180 million people. This we have done through the setting aside of 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) to establish the Basic Healthcare Fund in the just concluded 2018 Budget. This is grounded in our belief that all Nigerians, no matter their economic status, deserve access to qualitative and affordable healthcare, to make for a stronger Nigeria with healthy and vibrant citizens who will, in turn, drive the country’s growth and development.

10. Distinguished colleagues, the foregoing represents something of a recap of the journey so far, and also, in a sense, maps out the challenges ahead of us, which we must face head on. We are resuming plenary today under a pall of national anxiety and apprehension over the state of insecurity in the country. We have been alarmed at so many senseless killings of Nigerians, with the high number of casualties in Plateau being among the most egregious of late. In the wake of the atrocity, I led a Senate delegation to pay a condolence visit to the Governor of Plateau State, and to commiserate with the people of the state. As always, our sympathies are with those who have lost loved ones in these acts of barbarity, and we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring peace and security in our country.

11. As you all know, we held a Security Summit some months back, specifically to address the rising insecurity and to work out strategies in collaboration with security agencies on safeguarding Nigerian lives. Furthermore, we set up the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of Security Infrastructure in Nigeria, chaired by Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan; and we must now take steps to consider the Report of that committee and take forward the recommendations therein as may be appropriate. Events have shown that we were right to take these steps in response to the security challenges facing the nation at this time.

12. Let me reassure Nigerians that we are as concerned as they are in the face of this challenge; and we continue to hold government accountable, in order to see to improvement in this area. In addition to the Security Summit earlier mentioned, we held briefings with Security Chiefs in a bid to better understand the problems; and have urged them to table their
requests for more funds, so that the legislature can work on that aspect as well, to better equip the security forces to protect lives and property. Through our oversight functions, we can ensure the proper utilization of such funds and see to it that we have full accountability in the management of the current security crisis.

13. I must say, once again, that the responsibility for ensuring security rests with each and every one of us. Issues of criminality are involved in these heinous acts, and the vigilance of community leaders and the average citizen is crucial, to assist the security agencies do their job. For us as the Senate, it does seem that these issues are also an indication that it is time to revisit the issue of State Police; and to devise a framework for the mopping up of the 350 million pieces of light weapons estimated to be in circulation within our borders – an alarming ratio of three weapons to one person.

14. Meanwhile, let me use this opportunity to call for calm on all sides. We have called many times for unity and tolerance, and we must remind ourselves of the imperative of peace at this difficult time in our nation. Moderation is needed in our speech and in our actions as responsible citizens, even in what may be deemed as provocative situations. We must therefore, all of us, be careful of speech that has the potential to heat up the polity and heighten tensions. We implore the media also to exercise great responsibility in their reporting; Fake News can lead to dire consequences that we can ill afford. Nigeria is the only country we have.

15. Distinguished colleagues, it is clear that internal tensions are also a reflection of the economic condition of the citizenry. We will therefore be calling on all stakeholders to put Economic Bills on the fast lane in order that we may conclude them, so that we can open the door to greater opportunities for our people. Growth and development can only serve to deepen our democracy. To this end, I call on Committees that have not reported on their various mandates to quickly do so, so that we can conclude work on outstanding Bills intended to create economic prosperity for Nigerians.

16. Happily, the 2018 Budget has been signed by the President. We call on the Executive to expedite the release of funds for Budget implementation, so that our people can begin to see the positive impact in their lives without delay. The work is not done. We as the Senate must continue to exercise our oversight functions to ensure successful implementation and value for money. Naturally, we continue to work towards reforming the budgetary process. Clearly, it is necessary for the
Executive and the Legislature to work towards a more robust engagement on the need for a better budget environment and process, going forward.

17. In closing, my distinguished colleagues let us maintain the standard that we have set for this historic 8th Senate. The remaining work on the Constitutional Review process, pending concurrence issues and – unconcluded Bills especially the three PIB components outstanding as well as the earmarked economic Bills – all these demand our urgent attention.

18. As we inch closer to the 2019 electioneering period, I urge us not to lose focus. The divided attention of the legislature is not in the interest of the country. We must not be distracted. It is incumbent on us, therefore, to not allow politicking get in the way of our first duty to the Nigerian people, as Senators of the Federal Republic.

19. On this note, I charge us all to fasten our seatbelts and power on with the work we have been tasked to do. Posterity is watching, and history will vindicate us if we do the job with diligence and in truth.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

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Obiano Decorated as “Champion of Democracy” in Boston

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By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has been honoured as Nigeria’s Champion of Democracy by the Nigerian American Multi-Service Association (NAMSA) in Boston at the weekend.
The Nigerian American Multi-Service Association (NAMSA) is a Boston based umbrella association of Nigerians in Massachusetts that is dedicated to promoting and preserving the culture and heritage of all people of Nigerian/African descent in the United States, working assiduously to provide supportive environment through education, networking opportunities and other services that would help their fellow compatriots adapt and thrive.
The ceremony which brought the Governor’s business tour of Boston to a glorious climax was marked by effusive encomiums from members of the organization who represent the various segments of the Nigerian sub-culture in Boston.
Bestowing the honour on Governor Obiano, the President of the Association, Mr Godwin Nnanna lauded him for proving through his stellar performance, that good governance is possible in Nigeria.
According to him, the recent triumph of five Anambra girls who won the Gold Medal at the World Technovation Challenge in San Francisco did not drop from the skies. “It is a product of sound policy making and implementation,” Mr Nnanna observed, pointing out that all performance indicators have been pointing skywards since Governor Obiano took over the reins of leadership.
He praised the Governor’s stream of excellent performances which he said had kept Anambra steadily in the news and urged him to remain steadfast on the path of purposeful governance as it was the only hope for Nigeria to overcome her myriad of development challenges.
Mr Nnanna expressed the gratitude of NAMSA to Governor Obiano and his wife, Ebelechukwu, for honouring the Association with their presences and assured them of the resolve of the association to lend a helping hand to his efforts to bring rapid development to Anambra State.
Echoing Nnanna’s laudatory, other prominent leaders of the association like Prof Ajibola Osinubi, Dr Joyce Nwosu, Ms Nkoli Onye and Prof NT Izuchi praised Governor Obiano’s sterling accomplishments in office and urged him not to drop the baton in his second term.

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Meghan Markle is pregnant and the internet is obviously going into meltdown

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Kensington Palace has announced that the Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby, due in spring.
Earlier this year the world watched with glee as the wedding between Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle made us all forget about our troubles and divisions.

Naturally, given the popularity of the couple, the internet has erupted with reaction to the happy news.

Others joked that the baby has been sent to heal the UK’s Brexit blues, joking that the baby will likely arrive on the date the UK leaves the European Union.

Apparently, Harry and Meghan announced the news to the family at Princess Eugenie’s wedding last week. We can’t say we’d be happy with such  upstaging antics…

But thankfully the entire family are said to be delighted… Even Eugenie.

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No travel ban list: Presidency

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The Presidency has denied issuing a list of Nigerians affected by a travel ban as it also clarified that the Executive Order No. 6 is not a political weapon against opposition but part of revolutionary efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity issued the clarification today after a national newspaper published a list containing 50 names of people cutting across the two main political parties and the military establishment.
“I want to confirm to you that we have not issued any list and we are not doing so”, the presidential aide said.
“These cases are well known and to say this or that name is on it will open the door to further accusations, including trial by media.
“The Immìgration Service and other security agencies have the mandate of the President to carry out enforcement and they will do so giving due respects to individual rights, in line with the constitution,’’he said.
The presidential aide was reacting to a trail of criticisms over the implementation of the EO6 by the federal government.
Shehu dismissed the insinuation in some quarters that the activation of the EO 6 was targeted at some individuals or politicians in the country.
“EO 6 is not only revolutionary to the efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption but a manifestation of systemic changes that are required to make necessary adjustments as we carry on with the war against corruption.
“The very essence of the order is to make for speedy trials and conclusion of graft cases.
“The order is not politics and there is no political gain behind its activation.
“These high profile cases we are talking about have been ongoing for between seven to 10 years with no end in sight. These cases were mostly originated by administrations other than this one.
“What is clear is that the access to these resources by the suspects has enabled them to be in a composition to sometime compromise investigation, prosecution and trial.’’
He further explained that, in most of the cases, the courts were held in a helpless position by legal acrobatics paid for from corrupt enrichment by the suspects.
He, therefore, expressed the hope that the new measures put in place would compel everyone involved to make for a speedy conclusion of these cases.
“If it is your money, you have it back. If it belongs to the public, it goes back to the treasury,’’ he said.
Shehu added that the question of the constitutionality of the restriction order had been answered by the fact that “a court of the land has given government a clean sheet.’’
“The Executive Order is legal and constitutional and therefore implementable.
“One of the cardinal objectives of the government under our constitution is to fight corruption. Fighting corruption is a responsibility and obligation upon the government,’’ he further maintained.

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Herdsmen and Farmers: Realities, Response and Resolution of a National Dilemma

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Herdsmen and Farmers: Realities, Response and Resolution of a National Dilemma

A Lecture Delivered by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano at Double Tree by Hilton, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independent Anniversary.

It is a great honour to stand before you today to deliver a Lecture on Nigeria’s 58th Independent Anniversary. I had looked forward to this moment just as I had looked forward to the month of October in particular. Every October, I celebrate two of the most important women in my life… my wife and my country. Yes, my beloved wife, Ebelechukwu, marked her birthday last Sunday. So, you can see how important October is to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely do not know where the idea of looking at a country as a woman came from but there is probably no better way to look at Nigeria than to see her as a beautiful woman…very lovely and glamorous, but full of shakara. A beautiful woman needs care and tenderness to remain fresh and glamorous. Nigeria needs care and tenderness to reward our hopes and fulfil our dreams. Nigeria needs us now more than we need Nigeria. And we must not let her down!

Engaging Nigeria
Indeed, it is difficult to think of Nigeria without thinking of her enormous gifts and endowments; or her many unfulfilled promises. With an estimated population of almost 200 million people and a land area of 923,768 square kilometres, Nigeria is potentially a big country. But sitting on the 157th position in the global Human Development Index in 2017, it is obvious that Nigeria has not kept the promise of a huge material wealth to her population. It is not for want of effort on her part though but a challenge of sustainability.

To illustrate this point, as at 2015, Nigeria was rated as the 20th largest economy in the world with a nominal GDP in excess of $500 billion. A year earlier, it had overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy. Consequently, the World Bank rated it an Emerging Market and Nigeria became a Regional Power on the continent, a Middle Power in International Affairs and an Emerging Global Power. Yes, Nigeria has shown tremendous promise. So, I have no doubt that Nigeria can and shall attain greatness. It is just a matter of time!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an empty rhetoric. Nor is it a statement driven by excited optimism. If history is any guide to memory and knowledge, then we may remember that the area known today as Nigeria covers a wide expanse of geography that once brimmed with outstanding human achievements. Long before much of the world knew anything about civilization, the area that covers Kaduna and Plateau States gave the world the Nok Culture which dates from between 1000 BC to 500 BC. It documents a movement in civilization that covers the Neolithic or Stone Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. It drops hints about what might be the oldest organized human society with current research suggesting that the Nok Culture may have predated the founding of Rome by about 500 years. In contemporary history, the ancient Eri Kingdom in my own Anambra State, the glorious Benin Kingdom, the Yoruba Kingdoms, Kanem Bornu Empire and the great Hausa city states are a sparkling confirmation that greatness is neither strange nor new to modern Nigeria. And if our ancestors did it, then we too can do it. The key is in our own hands!

Introducing the Dilemma
Nigeria is a fascinating study in human tribulations and resilience. But that is not an extraordinary story. Every progressive society known to man has its own stories of socio-political turbulence, mutual suspicions, bitter rivalries, armed conflict or full blown war.

Essentially, since the end of the Biafran War, Nigeria has had many dangerous disagreements, violent eruptions, wild protests and other symptoms of a society in transition. But none of these past experiences is as menacing and wide-spread as the recent clashes between farmers and cattle herders. Even at their most violent peak, the exploits of the dreaded terror group, Boko Haram, were restricted mostly to the North East region of Nigeria. But the violent clashes between the herdsmen and farmers present a different test of willpower. What many Nigerians would like to understand is why everyday people who have lived together for ages would suddenly become each other’s dread. Why the farmer who is bound to his ancestral farmland by sweat and blood should run for his dear life when he hears a rustle in the tree. Why the herdsman who had walked the open fields of Nigeria with his dropping straw hat and a harmless stick across his shoulders should suddenly become a source of fear and anxiety. And finally, why after 58 years of living together as a country, we have allowed this mild irritation to develop into a national nightmare?

Ladies and gentlemen, once in every while, I ask myself hard questions and I think you should do same too. I ask myself if all that history had taught us about our ancestors were a heap of lies. Are we the true heirs to the Nok Culture, the great Eri Kingdom, the Kanem Bornu Empire, the Benin Empire, the Ife and Oyo Empires or even the more recent Opobo Kingdom where King Jaja taught the British a few lessons in trade and statecraft? Are we the true inheritors of all those great civilizations that our ancestors wrought with their own hands? Are we the great grandchildren of those great men and women who created those magnificent kingdoms and ran them with unbelievable efficiency? If we are, how can we not manage a mild headache like an argument between a farmer and a cattle herder? Again, I ask HOW?

Why the Stakes are High
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petrol in the world, the 8th largest exporter and the 10th largest confirmed reserves of crude oil but what keeps Nigeria going is Agriculture. That is why I made Agriculture the number one pillar of my Economic Blueprint. All statistical and geographical facts point us in the direction of Agriculture and that is why the stakes are sincerely high. It may be important to know at this juncture that in agricultural terms, Nigeria has 91 million hectares of land. 84 million of these hectares are arable. But only 40% of our arable land has been cultivated. Nigeria also has 230 billion cubic meters of water and has abundant rainfall in over two thirds of her territory. These facts make Agriculture the natural route to greatness for Nigeria. Our founding fathers knew this and designed all their economic plans with it in mind. That was what led to the groundnuts pyramids and made Nigeria the largest producer of palm oil and the second largest exporter of cocoa at the dawn of independence in 1960. And this is why the stakes are high!

Indeed, the stakes are high because the National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 25% of Nigeria’s GDP comes from Agriculture while 70% of Nigerians are employed in the Agricultural sector. At the same time, recent studies indicate that Crop Production accounts for 93.45% of overall nominal growth in the agriculture sector. In the light of this therefore, a disruption of the natural balance that has kept things together is bound to throw large populations out of employment, create avoidable food scarcity and lead to a painful loss of revenue. A clear demonstration of what could happen when a disruption occurs in the food supply chain could be seen from the acute shortage of tomatoes that hit Nigeria in the early part of 2017. The scarcity was so severe that tomatoes became an instant metaphor for Nigeria’s national grief.

On the other hand, Nigeria is home to about 22m cattle. The other day, the Minister of Agriculture was quoted as saying that Nigeria consumes about 90,000 of this figure per day. Lagos alone consumes 6000 cattle per day. At N150,000 per head, the cow business stands at about N3.4 trillion or $16.2 billion today. This is a huge amount of money. The cow business is a big business. And that is also why the stakes are so high!

The Sources of Trouble
One of the most recurrent causes of conflict between the cattle herders and farmers is cattle-rustling. Herders often point fingers at farmers for their missing cattle which they consider a serious loss of revenue. There is also the usually unspoken emotional attachment that the herders have to their cows which outsiders to the cow business do not easily understand. They rightly or wrongly believe that herders exact revenge in blood for missing cows because of this strange attachment. Another point of conflict that is regularly cited is that cattle herders graze their livestock on the crops of farmers, ruining a whole season of work and throwing families into avoidable hunger. In some instances too, herders brazenly graze on large industrial farms thereby destroying huge investments. Not quite long ago, it took all the political will of the government of Anambra State to move cattle herders away from the famous Coscharis Rice Farm in Anambra State which is valued at over $200 million dollars. We can all imagine what would have happened if we had not intervened. There are so many other reasons offered for these bloody conflicts. But what no one has been able to tell us is the reason why they seem to have risen just when the flames of Boko Haram began to die down.

Gauging the National Rhetoric
Anyone who has followed the farmers and herdsmen conflict will recall that when it started, many people did not know what to make of it. It began slowly like a typical quarrel between unfriendly neighbours and quickly grew in dimension and scale into a national tragedy. And when conversations eventually began about it, views were polarized along ethnic and religious lines. While that should be expected, our diversity should be our strength and not our weakness. However, the dominant views that emerged from the deluge of commentaries and opinions are quite fascinating. There have been strong moves for the establishment of Cattle Colonies. There has also been an effort to introduce a National Grazing Reserve Bill. Interestingly, neither the establishment of cattle colonies nor the National Grazing Reserve Bill has gained the acceptance of the Nigerian people. On the contrary, many Nigerians prefer that rather than roam freely in the wild, cattle should be properly ranched as is the case in most countries in the world. They argue that since cattle-herding is a private business, it should not be allowed to evolve into a public headache!

Introducing Anambra State
For purposes of enlightenment only; not as a prescription of what should be the standard response to this national dilemma, I would like to share the Anambra story here. I avoid prescriptions because prescriptions are usually subjective and easily misunderstood. Now, Anambra presents a very interesting scenario. Anambra is blessed with natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, kaolin, salt, gypsum, lead, lignite, limestone and iron ore among others. We have the largest retail market in West Africa. With an economy of N3.8 trillion, Anambra has the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria with $1,615 per capita. And if Anambra were an independent country, our GDP would be 17th in Africa. We have great tourism potentials with the Ogbaukwu Caves and Waterfalls in Owerre-Ezukala and Ogbunike Cave in Ogbunike. Anambra is the 10th most populous state in Nigeria with a population density of 860 per square kilometre. And in the past four years, we have been Nigeria’s safest state. With only 4,844 square kilometres of land, Anambra is Nigeria’s second smallest state. It is just slightly bigger than Lagos. But while Lagos has expanded into the sea with the Eko Atlantic City Project, Anambra has lost a sizeable chunk of her precious land to over 950 gully erosion sites. Anambra has 100% arable land. Land is not something we have in abundance in Anambra, and with the growing reports of violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen over land, my administration needed to think its way out of the danger that loomed over Anambra.

Solving a National Dilemma
In Anambra State, we like to look at the big picture. We realize that diversity is life and that if God wanted a homogenous world, He would have made everyone look the same. Being the birthplace of the Igbo, our worldview is broad. We believe in the ancient Igbo saying that the world is like a dancing masquerade; you cannot appreciate its full splendour if you choose to watch it from the same spot. This philosophy is at the heart of our people’s wanderlust and drive for success. We are almost everywhere on the planet. The large Anambra Community in this great city is enough proof of this.

Now, during our routine scenario-planning in 2015, we foresaw the impending threat by herdsmen in some parts of the country and moved quickly to save Anambra State from the looming attack. That was long before the menace of the herdsmen took over the front-pages of our national newspapers. Our counter strategy was to include the threat of a possible attack from them into the security architecture of Anambra State. We had prided ourselves as Nigeria’s safest state for a while and we did not want that profile to be shattered. Once we did that, our next step was to set up the Herdsmen/Farmers Cattle Menace Committee. Members of this Committee are leaders of the Hausa-Fulani Community, government officials, the traditional rulers of agrarian communities and the Service Commanders of the various security agencies in the state. Through the mediating influence of this Committee, an agreement was sealed between the agrarian communities and the herdsmen, which specifies that compensation would be paid by either party for breaching the rules of engagement between them. In other words, the herdsmen would pay compensation if they allowed their cattle to destroy people’s farms while the host communities would pay for confirmed cases of cattle rustling or any other breach of the agreement reached with the herdsmen.

To further strengthen our interface with the Hausa-Fulani Community, I appointed one of them known as Garuba Haruna as my Special Assistant on Islamic/Hausa-Fulani Affairs with the mandate of nurturing and sustaining cordial relations between the farming communities and the cattle herders. This agreement was unanimously applauded by all the members of the committee including Mr Sidiq Gidado, the Chairman of the Fulani Herdsmen Association in the South East. Similarly, the leader of the Muslim Community in the state, Alhaji Sule Momodu also commended our decision to give a Hausa-Fulani a position in the government; the first since the creation of the state.

The lesson here is that we must create more room for tolerance and diversity in our communities. That is one of the sustainable ways of forestalling extremist tendencies and maintaining peace in our communities. Many Nigerians may not know that 1% of the population of Anambra State does not speak Igbo Language. They speak Igala Language. But my administration appointed an Igala man, Bonaventure Enemali, as a Commissioner and a member of my Cabinet; another first since the creation of Anambra State. It is a gesture that carries a loud message of tolerance and inclusiveness.

Finally, Nigeria must hasten up to join the 43-nation group of Climate Vulnerable Forum. This Forum is a global partnership of countries that are most vulnerable to global warming and have come together to negotiate for special concessions and considerations from the United Nations. Many analysts have pointed at climate change as one of the remote causes of the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen. They point at the rapid pace of desert encroachment in the far North as the reason behind herdsmen’s invasion of farmlands in the North Central and some parts of Southern Nigeria. It is believed that membership of the Climate Vulnerable Forum will attract some concessions that will checkmate the spread of this national anxiety. This is an option worth exploring!

The Anambra Success Story
At the risk of sounding immodest, I would like to observe that under my watch, Anambra State has evolved into one of the model states in Nigeria today. And there is really no magic to it. We simply started with clearly defined Vision and Mission Statements which serve as a roadmap to our overall development drive. When we started out, we declared that our Vision was to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities. We also declared that our Mission was to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. To ensure the realisation of these two Statements, we crafted a Blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development which revolves around Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas. The Vision and Mission Statements come together in a perfect synergy with the Four Pillars of Development to make up my dream for Anambra State. We also have what I call the Enablers. There are fourteen of them. The Enablers are those basic things that must be in place for the Pillars to function. Some of the Key Enablers include Security, Education, Health, Roads and Social Infrastructure, the Environment, Finance, Transportation, Public Utilities and others.

Ladies and gentlemen, after four years on the saddle, I am quite happy with the decision we took on matters pertaining to security. I have come to realize that for most of the developing world, security is the master-key to sustainable development. When we assumed office on March 17, 2014, we knew that no matter how bright our ideas or how eloquent our rhetoric was, if we failed to tackle the persistent challenge of insecurity in Anambra State, we would be dead on arrival as an administration. So, we designed a security architecture that helped us stamp out crime of all shades from Anambra State. And today, because of our decision to make security the number one priority of Anambra State, because we have donated a gunboat to the Naval Outpost in Onitsha to secure our waterways and 25 smart cars to the police to patrol our streets and alleyways, and finally because we occasionally launch surveillance helicopters into Anambra skies to detect threats beyond the range of human eyes, our dear state is a better place and we are within a touching distance of our vision and mission as a government.

Ladies and gentlemen, the results are there to see in all key areas of development. Commercial and socio-cultural activities have been on a steady rise in Anambra State. The impact is so much that in 2016/2017 when Nigeria’s economy went into deficit, the sub-national economy of Anambra State grew by 1% because of the measures we initiated to fight recession. We established the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) to anchor our investment drive. The Agency swiftly became a One-Stop investment powerhouse, offering first class solutions to all investment enquiries. It signed 42 MoUs across various sectors in the state valued at $5.4 billion out of which $1.6 billion worth of investments had come from the indigenes of the state alone.

We have also recorded many success stories in our drive for investments into Anambra State but I will mention only three here because of time. We have some interesting case studies especially in the agricultural sector where some indigenous entrepreneurs like Coscharis Farms has invested $200m in a large mechanized rice farm located in Anaku. We also have JOSAN Agro Limited which has invested $180m in an Integrated Farm in Ufuma and Umumbo and finally, Lynden Farms Limited which invested $180m in a modern integrated poultry farm in Igbariam. Similarly, our rice production output currently stands at 345,000 metric tons. When my administration took over four years ago, Anambra was producing only 80,000 metric tons. We have also paid a serious attention to roads and infrastructure. We built three iconic flyovers which have become aesthetic landmarks in Awka and Amawbia as well as the longest bridge in the South East of Nigeria which leads to the oilfields. Lately, we have focused a lot of attention on giving a facelift to our cities. We rolled out the Light-up Anambra Campaign which has turned our cities, towns and communities into dazzling beauties at night. Our quest to enhance the beauty of our cities recently witnessed the remodelling of the famous DMGS Roundabout in Onitsha. We have turned it into a magnificent monument with five long elephant tusks rising from the base to form a canopy of unity at the top over a refurbished sculpture of the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe. The five tusks symbolically represent the five states of the South East held together in unity by a bead at the top. Indeed, the remodelling of the DMGS Roundabout further confirms that leadership must inspire the society to remember what it might so easily forget. It was this impulse that informed the deceision of my administration to introduce a remarkable State Anthem which has powerful lines that inspire the citizens as they sing it at every event. By the Grace of God, I will continue to build monuments like the DMGS Roundabout to constantly remind Ndi Anambra of our common heritage and the imperatives of social peace. Indeed, Anambra State is on the rise! We have put our house in order and we are now ready to welcome the world.

We have had a fruitful interactive session with European businesses in June this year during my investment tour of Austria. And we are here today in Boston to open our doors to American investors. We would never contemplate all these if we didn’t consider Anambra safe enough for investors or if live with the dread that any part of Anambra State could suddenly come under the assault of some cattle herdsmen. To you our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, I say, come home and invest and change the story of our people. Let us be guided by the encouraged by the inspiring stories of the contributions of the Jewish Diaspora to the greatness of the modern state of Israel today. The Nigerian Diaspora can do just the same. Nigeria is a better place today than it used to be!

In conclusion therefore, as we celebrate Nigeria’s 58th Independence Anniversary, we may do well to remember that no human society, no matter how advanced is without conflicts. So, the conflict between herdsmen and farmers is just one more hurdle Nigeria must scale on her way to a stronger union. And we can all lend a hand in the search for a sustainable solution to this dilemma by building more tolerant, more diverse and more inclusive communities.

God bless Nigeria
God bless Anambra State
Thank you

Willie Obiano
Governor

Governor Obiano's Tour of BostonDetermined to ensure that Anambra State remains the safest state in Nigeria, Governor Obiano recently visited the offices of IV & C in Boston Massachusetts. IV & C is the security firm that developed the hi-tech security gadget that was used in tracking down the Boston Marathon bomber.Governor Obiano is not sparing any efforts in his search for ideas and innovations that will make Anambra State a better place.Enjoy the video below….

Slået op af James Eze i Lørdag den 13. oktober 2018

 

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FG places foreign travel ban on 50 persons under EO6 : FULL TEXT

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The Federal Government has placed a foreign travel ban on no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by Executive Order 6 (EO6).
The affected persons are already on the watch-list and are restricted from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in Abuja on Saturday.
He said this development followed the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the EO6.
He said already President Muhammadu Buhari had mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.
“To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases.
“Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes.
“It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter,’’ he added.
Shehu said the Buhari administration had reassured all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.
He, therefore, maintained that the administration would uphold the rule of law in all its actions as well as protect the right of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption,’’ he said.

FULL STATEMENT :
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PRESIDENT BUHARI DIRECTS IMPLEMENTATION OF EO 6 IN FULL FORCE
Following the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the Executive Order 6 (EO6), President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.
To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases.
Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes. It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter.
The Buhari administration reassures all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.
Accordingly, this administration will uphold the rule of law in all its actions and the right of citizens would be protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.
We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption.
Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
October 13, 2018

 


This article was written by Ismaila Chafe

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Obiano Explores Partnership Possibilities with Cambridge Innovation Center, Boston

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By James Eze
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano yesterday stormed the famous Cambridge Innovation Centre in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Boston, Massachusetts in search of ideas that would nurture technological talent in the state as demonstrated by the five Anambra school girls who won a Gold Medal at the World Technovation Challenge in the Silicon Valley in San Francisco, USA.
Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) is one of the leading technology incubation centers in the world where smart tech-heads with bright ideas are given an ideal environment to evolve innovative ideas and a strategic platform to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists who have the financial resources to fund new technological ideas.
The Center is located in the heart of MIT and usually patronized by brilliant graduates from Harvard, MIT, Boston University and many other leading Ivy League universities in New England and beyond.
Conducting Governor Obiano and his team around the facility, the Relationship Manager of the Centre, Kristyn Fratus explained that the volume of funds that was available to Centre was many times the volume of venture capital available to all of the United Kingdom.
Governor Obiano’s mission in the Centre was to carry out a first-hand assessment of the place, discuss possibilities of partnership and adapting the model to jump-start his dream of turning Anambra State into a leading technological hub in the West African region; a move which he started by inaugurating the Anambra State Creative Economy Council shortly after he took the oath for his second term in office.
Governor Obiano believes that Anambra youths have enough creative flare and brain power to contribute to the on-going global hi-tech race but lack the environment that would inspire them to bring out their best.
While on tour of the Center, the Governor interacted with young bright tech-heads at the Innovation Café and discussed the possibilities of their visiting Anambra State to interact with the youth and offer new hi-tech solutions to the developmental needs of the state. One of the bright tech-heads the governor met with at the Center is Nigeria’s Ezinne Uzo-Okoro who had spent fourteen years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and 22-year old Indo-Swiss, Divyanshu Varshney, founder and president of virtual reality company among many others.
Governor Obiano left the center convinced that he had found the solution he needed to harness the creative potentials of Anambra youths which were on full display during a recent talent hunt organized by the Ministry for Youth Entrepreneurship in Awka.
The Governor was accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Mr Primus Odili, his Principal Secretary, Sir Willie Nwokoye, Member Representing Ayamelum in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor and Alex Onukwue, National President of Anambra State Presidents General.

Gov Obiano

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Atiku/Obi: South East was never consulted – Umahi

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The Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, has expressed shock over the choice of former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi as the running mate to the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubarkar without consulting with the leaders of the zone.

Umahi said the earlier statement quoting him as congratulating Peter Obi was never with his knowledge and dissociated himself from the statement, saying that the position of the entire South East zone has always been that any position zoned to the South East must be deliberated upon by the leaders of the zone.

He said in the case of the appointment of Mr. Obi as Atiku’s running mate, neither the governors, nor Igbo leaders were consulted, a situation he said was a great departure from the earlier agreement.

The governor appologized to Nigerians and Ndigbo for the statement, adding that his Chief Press Secretary acted without his knowledge and wish to state categorically that he has nothing personally against Peter Obi or any other person emerging as the running mate to the presidential candidate of PDP.

He said that any position zoned to Ndigbo must be discussed and agreement reached so that the right thing is done in line with the perculiar nature of Igbo politics and their quest for politics of inclusiveness.

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Atiku Explains Why He Picked Obi as Running mate

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The Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO) Friday night confirmed that former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, had been picked by the Peoples Democratic Party Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as his running mate.
APCO also gave reasons why Obi was picked, explaining that his choice was largely influenced by his youthfulness, vast knowledge of global and local economics as well as being a financial expert, an experience which it said Nigeria was in need of at this point in time.

In a statement issued Friday night, the Director General, Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO), Otuba Gbenga Daniels, described Obi as an astute professional who had laid his footprints across the corporate world.
Daniels said Obi, born on 19th July, 1961, attended the Christ the King College, Onitsha and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
He said Obi was also a graduate of several international and national institutions such as the Lagos Business School, Harvard Business School, London School of Economics, Columbia Business School, Institute of Management, Switzerland, Kellogg Graduate School, Oxford University and Cambridge University.

He said Obi was the Chairman, Board of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC); former Chairman, Fidelity Bank PLC; former Chairman, Guardian Express Mortgage Bank; former Chairman, Future Views Securities; former Chairman, Paymaster Nigeria; former Chairman, Next International Nigeria; former Director, Guardian Express Bank PLC; former Director, Chams Nigeria PLC; former Director, Emerging Capital: former Director, Card Centre PLC.
Daniel said Obi is a member of the British Institute of Directors (IOD), Nigerian Chartered Institute of Bankers and Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).


This article was written by Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

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Nigerian opposition party candidate Abubakar chooses running mate – spokesman

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The main opposition challenger to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s elections has selected a former governor from the southeast of the country to be his running mate, the candidate’s spokesman said on Friday.

Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who will stand as the candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 2019 vote, chose Peter Obi, formerly governor of the South-Eastern state of Anambra.

The choice points to a bid to generate support in the southeast, where Buhari has polled badly in past elections and cracked down on secessionists by deploying troops on the streets. Geographical affiliations are crucial in a nation of 190 million people from 250 ethnic groups.

“Former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi is the vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party,” Abubakar’s spokesman said in text message.

Obi had a background in business prior to entering politics. Abubakar has long enjoyed support from Nigeria’s business elite and as vice president from 1999-2007 implemented a liberalisation programme in areas such as the telecoms sector.
Buhari’s handling of one of Africa’s biggest economies since taking office in 2015 has already become a campaign issue. The country emerged in 2017 from its first recession in 25 years but economic growth remains sluggish and inflation is above the central bank’s single-digit target.

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Nigeria’s Opposition Preys on President Buhari’s Weakness: A Faltering Economy

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Opposition candidates seeking to unseat Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, are attacking his economic record and treatment of foreign investors as election season intensifies in Africa’s most populous country. Four members of Buhari’s own party who have defected to the opposition to challenge him are pitching themselves as more business-minded candidates who can jump-start a sluggish economic recovery.
Their criticisms of Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation, which is set to hold elections in February, come as two clashes highlight Buhari’s vulnerability on economic policy, even as rising crude prices deliver a boost.
The administration has come under fire for a decision by the central bank and attorney general to impose $10 billion in penalties on South African mobile giant MTN. The president’s office has also lashed out at HSBC over a research note for clients suggesting that Buhari’s re-election would stunt economic growth.
His former allies are pouncing on discontent with the economy. The campaign slogan of Bukola Saraki, president of the Nigerian Senate, is “Let’s Grow Nigeria.” Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state and a presidential hopeful, said, “The economy is not showing any real signs of improvement.” Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, another contender, said earlier this month that the Buhari administration had “destroyed” the economy.

”If the opposition was to ask the average Nigerian, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ the answer would be no”.

Buhari was considered all but unbeatable as recently as a few months ago. But this week an important state election offered him a stark warning. His All Progressives Congress party found itself in a runoff to defend the governorship in Osun state, which it controls and which will be central to the president’s re-election prospects.
Lagos’ business elite hopes that a Buhari defeat would help revitalize Africa’s largest economy, which has stumbled out of a recession brought on by the oil crash, but made worse, critics argue, by the administration’s economic mismanagement.
The administration has defended its record, touting achievements that include a rise in foreign reserves; a current account surplus; significant power, road and rail infrastructure investment; and a drop in inflation. Its policies have helped Nigeria move up 24 positions on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, from 169 in 2016 to 145 in 2017. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is also widely admired in the business community.

Even critics concede Buhari was dealt a bad hand in a country where oil accounts for 56 percent of government revenue, entering office in 2015 as crude prices slumped.
“But if the opposition was to ask the average Nigerian, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ the answer would be no,” says political analyst Chris Ngwodo. “There have been huge job losses, and the country is barely inching out of recession.”
GDP growth slumped to an annualized 1.5 percent in the second quarter, causing economists to lower their forecasts for 2018 growth to 2.3 percent. The Nigerian stock exchange is among the worst performing in the world this year.
Buhari claimed his party’s presidential nomination in September. It is unclear yet whether the opposition can unite behind a candidate who can overcome voter apathy in the south and the president’s strength in the populous north. So far, multiple parties are holding separate primaries in October, each picking their nominee. But the president’s approval ratings are near record lows, touching 45 percent in the most recent survey by NOI Polls.
This month the president’s office let loose on HSBC, which in July released a research note that criticized the government’s convoluted exchange rate regime for causing a range of “inefficiencies” and said a second Buhari term “raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration.”
The president’s office was not pleased. “What killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders, the type which was actively supported by HSBC,” read an official statement, accusing the bank of facilitating money laundering by Nigerian politicians. An HSBC spokesperson said it had no comment on the matter. In a country known for corrupt politicians, Buhari is widely seen as clean, and has been praised for cracking down on public graft, even as some of his allies have been ensnared in scandal.
Adeyemi Dipeolu, economic special adviser to the president, wrote in an op-ed this week that the HSBC analysis lacks nuance. “While the economy has not yet reached desired growth levels, there are positive developments in macroeconomic conditions, the real sector, the business environment, social investments and infrastructure,” he wrote.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, one of the first high-profile politicians to defect and challenge Buhari, said in a statement that the administration’s attack on HSBC was “comical and pathetic.” Abubakar told reporters last month that the Buhari administration’s battle with MTN, the country’s largest mobile carrier, was evidence of how the president had “actually driven out foreign investment by his policies.”
The MTN saga began on Aug. 29 when the central bank ordered the mobile company — which has over 50 million subscribers in Nigeria — to return $8.1 billion it allegedly illegally repatriated. In addition, the attorney general said the company owed $2 billion in back taxes. The news wiped one-third off the company’s market value. MTN denies all wrongdoing and has filed a lawsuit against the government.
The central bank has since struck a more conciliatory tone. “I am very optimistic we will resolve the matter and I believe that everybody will be happy. MTN will be happy, the banks will be happy. [The central bank] and government would be happy,” Godwin Emefiele, central bank governor, told reporters this week, following a statement last week stressing that Nigeria “will continue to welcome foreign investments and investors.”
But critics say the aggressive moves against some of Nigeria’s biggest foreign investors is emblematic of a Buhari mentality that, they argue, is stuck in the 1980s, when the president ruled Nigeria as head of a military government.
“It really speaks volumes [about] the mindset of the government,” says one Lagos-based executive.

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Can’t get on ANSSID?
If you have been having challenges getting your Anambra State Social Service number, here is what to do:
• send an email and ANSSID login details to: info@airs.an.gov.ng for immediate assistance.
• Visit the ANSSID HELPDESK or call HELPLINES: 07066727750 or 07033822851

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