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Nigeria’s External Reserves Drop By $1bn In 13 Days |The Republican News

                                                           Naira and dollars

’Femi Asu

The nation’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped to a seven-month low, losing $1.02bn in the 13 days to Monday, latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed on Wednesday.

The external reserves, which stood at $44.30bn on September 28, fell from $44.02bn on October 2 to $43bn on October 15.

The reserves, which rose to a high of $47.865bn on May 10, have dropped by $4.86bn in five months.

As of March 5, the reserves stood at $43.12bn, up from $42.75bn on March 2, according to the CBN data.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund said Nigeria needed to be cautious about the use of its foreign exchange reserves, saying oil prices could decline at any time.

The IMF, in its latest Regional Economic Outlook said tighter global financial conditions resulting from faster-than-envisaged monetary policy normalisation in advanced economies, or a sudden shift in investors’ sentiment could constrain financing and growth for many sub-Saharan African countries.

“Higher US interest rates and a stronger dollar also heighten risks, as observed historically in emerging and developing economies. In particular, the probability of a large reversal in foreign flows in sub-Saharan Africa is significantly higher the US interest rates go up,” the fund added.

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, explained early this month that the external reserves had been going down recently because of higher yields in the United States.

Okorafor, however, gave an assurance that at the current level of $44bn, the reserves were sufficient to take care of the nation’s import bill for 17 to 20 months, much more than the three-month standard recommendation.

According to him, some foreign investors who have gone to emerging markets to take advantage of the high yields have had to go back to the US because of better opportunities there at the moment.

“The drop in our forex reserves is basically as a result of the capital flow reversals arising from rising interest rates in the United States. You will recall that the Federal Reserve has been raising rates and has even given guidance that this would continue in the near term,” he added.   (Punch)

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I Lack Constitutional Powers To Create Cattle Colony – Buhari |The Republican News

Buhari-Muhammadu

President Muhammadu Buhari

Tony John, Port Harcourt

President Muhammadu Buhari has said he lacks the constitutional power to create cattle colonies across the country, under the Land Use Act of 1978.

Buhari has also stated that his administration was determined to build an equitable and progressive society, where Nigerians can look forward to the opportunities for realising their full potential without hindrance.

He declared this yesterday, while speaking at the South-South Zonal meeting of the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups (NCBSG) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

President Buhari, who spoke through his Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, said provisions of the Land Use Act of 1978 gave powers to state governors and local government chairmen to control land in their domains.

He said: “When Nigeria was one region or state, that was before Nigeria was formed as a country, we had cattle routes running from Chad, Niger and others down to the Atlantic. When Nigeria became four regions, we had cattle routes in each of the regions. 

“When Nigeria created states, each of the states made laws to regulate rearing of animals. In 1978, under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as head of state, March 28, I think I am correct, the Land Use Act was made. Under the Land Use Act, the President of Nigeria has power to control lands in Abuja only. 

“Under the Land Use Act, each state governor, under Section 2 of the Land Use Act, land in urban areas of each of the state of the federation shall be vested on the governor. Now, subsection 1(2b) says land in the rural areas shall be vested on the local government chairman of that area”, Buhari explained.

He further said that the commitment of his administration to lay the foundations, informed its actions in tackling “theft, diversion and misappropriation of public funds but steadily diversifying the economy for sustained growth and tackling the myriads of security challenges bedeviling the land. He said, “As a government, we are committed to laying the foundations upon which an equitable and progressive society can be built, in which all citizens can look forward to the opportunities for realising their full potential without let or hindrance. 

“This informed our actions in tackling theft, diversion and misappropriation of public funds, gradually, but steadily diversifying the economy for sustained growth and tackling the myriads of security challenges bedeviling the land.

“While it is still work in progress, we are confident that the amount of work done in the first 32 months of this administration, points to a new solid foundation for building the Nigeria of our dreams. 

“Not only did we ease out of an inevitable recession in record time, our revenue profile, our foreign reserves and foreign investments are all on the rise again; and we have mobilized contractors back to project sites across the country, including the South-South Zone”, the President said

In his welcome address, former member of the House of Representatives,  Ogbonna Nwuke, said Buhari has proven to the people of South-south and South-east geopolitical zones of the country, that he is a friend and not an enemy.

Nwuke described Buhari as a Niger Delta brand for the 2019 presidential election.

In his welcome address, former member of the House of Representatives,  Ogbonna Nwuke, said Buhari has proven to the people of South-south and South-east geopolitical zones of the country, that he is a friend and not an enemy.  (The Sun)

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Buhari Lost Grip Of The Country, As Nigeria Has Become Theatre Of War – Sen. Shehu Sani |RN

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Senator Shehu Sani

Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial district, Shehu Sani has said that incessant killings in the last three months in the country was a manifestation that President Buhari was losing grip of governance.

Speaking through Order 43 of Senate rules, he blasted those he described as opportunists in the Villa to tell Nigerians the truth that Buhari was failing in governing the nation.

The lawmaker lamented that Birnin Gwari and Chikun local government areas in Kaduna state which borders Zamfara State in North West, were part of his Senatorial district and have been under siege in the last three months.

According to him, criminal killings in those local governments have become a daily affairs, saying that there was need for permanent military base in the affected areas.

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, some villages in Birnin Gwari and Chikun local government areas have been sacked and villagers have relocated to the local government headquarters in the last three months.”

“Two days ago, about 7 people have been killed without media coverage and as you know, government only take actions on killings that are widely publicised.”

“I am deeply concerned that government is losing grip of the country as the country has become a theatre of war.”

Sani wondered at how some officials of government would attribute killings to ethnic and religious sentiments, saying that something was fundamentally wrong, if Nigerians were not able to blend after 100 years of amalgamation.

Reacting, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said, said it was important for the issue of security to be taken seriously by government.

He recalled that Senator Kabir Marafa had raised a similar issue happening in Zamfara, saying something must be done as soon as possible.

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2019 Election: Buhari Must Not Re-contest – Ibrahim Babangida |The Republican News

• Babangida stands by statement –Afegbua
• He was not authorised to release statement –Abdullahi

Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja

Barely too weeks after former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek reelection in 2019, ex-Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), yesterday reaffirmed this position, asking the president to complete his current term of office and pave the way for a new breed leadership that will lead the country in the digital age.
In a statement released on his behalf by Prince Kassim Afegbua, his official spokesman, Babangida said inasmuch as he would not deny Buhari his right to vie for election, there comes a time in a nation’s life when national interest must override personal ambition.
This is coming in the midst of another statement purportedly issued by Babangida, disowning the first one, wherein he said it was not his style to go public when he has unfettered access to the highest authorities in the country.
Afegbua, however, insisted, in a counter-statement, that Babangida stood by the earlier position, declaring: “Please, this is to affirm that the earlier statement issued and signed by me on behalf of General IBB stands. We regret the mix-up in a rebuttal issued to contradict the statement. The statement stands.”
Also speaking on a television programme last night, he said: “I spoke with General Babangida after the second statement and he said the earlier statement stands and that the kernel of the statement should be the thrust of discussion.”
Emphasising that his statement was authentic, Afegbua said: “Those are his thoughts. We sat down together and articulated them. I don’t know why anybody would think I generated a statement without his authorisation.”
In the earlier statement by Afegbua, Babangida said the incumbent administration had shown lack of capacity in addressing security concerns and widening disunity in the country and, therefore, should go in 2019.
Said he: “I do not intend to deny President Buhari his inalienable right to vote and be voted for, but there comes a time in the life of a nation, when personal ambition should not override national interest.
“This is the time for us to reinvent the wheel and tap into the resourcefulness of the younger generation, stimulate their entrepreneurial initiatives and provoke a conducive environment to grow national economy, both at the micro and macro levels.
“In the fullness of our present realities, we need to cooperate with President Buhari to complete his term of office on May 29, 2019, and collectively prepare the way for new generation leaders to assume the mantle of leadership of the country.”
Echoing Obasanjo’s position, Babangida lamented that the incumbent administration’s handling of herdsmen/farmers conflicts, which have resulted in deaths, has been unsatisfactory.
He wrote: “The unchecked activities of the herdsmen have continued to raise doubt on the capacity of this government to handle with dispatch, security concerns that continue to threaten our dear nation; suicide bombings, kidnappings, armed banditry, ethnic clashes and other divisive tendencies.”
Still on killings in the country, Babangida further lamented: “In the past few months also, I have taken time to reflect on a number of issues plaguing the country. I get frightened by their dimensions. I get worried by their colourations. I get perplexed by their gory themes.
“From Southern Kaduna to Taraba State, from Benue State to Rivers, from Edo State to Zamfara, it has been a theatre of blood with cake of crimson. In Dansadau in Zamfara State recently, North-West of Nigeria, over 200 souls were wasted for no justifiable reason. The pogrom in Benue State has left me wondering if truly this is the same country some of us fought to keep together.
“I am alarmed by the amount of blood-letting across the land. Nigeria is now being described as a land where blood flows like river, where tears have refused to dry up. Almost on a daily basis, we are both mourning and grieving, and often times left helpless by the sophistication of crimes.”
On how to solve the herdsmen/farmer clashes, he said: “We need to bring different actors to the roundtable. Government must generate platform to interact and dialogue on the issues, with a view to finding permanent solutions to the crises.”
Warning on the consequences of the clashes, the former military president said: “The festering nature of this crisis is an inelegant testimony to the sharp divisions and polarisations that exist across the country. For example, this is not the first time herdsmen engage in pastoral nomadism but the anger in the land is suggestive of the absence of mutual love and togetherness that once defined our nationality.
“We must collectively rise up to the occasion and do something urgently to arrest this drift. If left unchecked, it portends danger to our collective existence as one nation bound by common destiny; and may snowball into another internecine warfare that would not be good for nation-building.”
He emphasised the need for the nation to have new leaders that can reinvent the country, saying: “The next election in 2019, therefore, presents us a unique opportunity to reinvent the will and provoke fresh leadership that would immediately begin the process of healing the wounds in the land and ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of the people are realised in building and sustaining national cohesion and consensus.”
Babangida said though APC raised hopes of changing the parlous stats of things in the country, it is yet to redeem the promises.
According to him, “when the ruling party campaigned with the change mantra, I had thought they would device new methods, provoke new initiatives and proffer new ways to addressing some of our developmental problems.”
He lamented that things have not changed for the better, stating: “We are still experiencing huge infrastructural deficit across the country and one had thought the APC-led Federal Government would behave differently from their counterparts in previous administrations. I am hesitant to ask; where is the promised change?”
Calling for the restructuring of the country, the former military president said: “Like I did state in my previous statement late last year, devolution of power or restructuring is an idea whose time has come if we must be honest with ourselves.
“We need to critically address the issue and take informed positions based on the expectations of the people on how to make the union work better.
“Political parties should not exploit this as a decoy to woo voters because election time is here. We need to begin the process of restructuring, both in the letter and spirit of it.
“For example, I still cannot reconcile why my state government would not be allowed to fix the Minna-Suleja Road, simply because it is called Federal Government road, or why state governments cannot run their own policing system to support the Federal Police.”
In concluding his statement, Babangida said he was speaking as a “stakeholder, former president, concerned Nigerian and a patriot who desires to see new paradigms in our shared commitment to get this country running.”
Meanwhile, another statement purportedly by Babangida, which Daily Sun gathered, was issued by his friends, said the earlier statement was the opinion of Prince Afegbua.
The statement said: “My attention has been drawn to a press statement on the state of the nation with a particular reference to 2019 general elections and beyond.
“Let me categorically state that as a former President and statesman, I have unfettered access and channel of communication with the highest authorities in the country without necessary going public with a sensational statement. Therefore, the views expressed in the alleged statement are not mine, but that of the writer.”
On the state of the nation, the statement said it was “worrisome that political events and civil unrest in many parts of the country have raised many questions on the governance and unity of our great nation,” adding:
“Indeed, 2018 has been inundated with political clamours and hot debates over the corporate existence of this country. Many of the contributions, including constructive criticisms and engagements, have shown greater concerns for the corporate existence of Nigeria beyond 2019 general elections.”
It said recent happenings and utterances by political gladiators were “alarming and not in the interest of common man that is already overstretched and apparently living from hand to mouth due to precarious economic conditions.”
The statement however, expressed optimistic that the “political actors will play within the ambits of political norms and decorum to ameliorate the problems facing our society now.”
On his belief in democracy, the statement said: “I am a realist that believes in all issues in a democratic atmosphere are sincerely discussed and resolved in the spirit of give-and-take.
“Since after my military years that metamorphosed to being the only Military President in the history of Nigeria and my civilian life, I always have one clear objective that freedom can only be achieved through democracy.
“Some people find this freedom as an avenue for eroding democracy by antics of hate speeches under the guise of religion, tribal or self-imposed mentorship. This trend of pitching political class and the people against one another is unhealthy and must be discouraged by all and sundry.”
Supporting two-party system, he said: “I have been an advocate of a two-party system, but in our present reality in Nigeria, our political parties can fusion into a strong political association or party that can form a formidable opposition to a ruling party.
“As students of history, we are aware that many advanced democracies have two distinct ideological political parties, with a handful of smaller political groupings that serve as buffer whenever any of the known political parties derailed or became unpopular. I still believe in a two-party system as the best option for Nigeria.”
The statement urged Nigerians “to come together to address all communal conflicts and criminality under any guise, so as to unite the country, in line with the vision of our founding fathers.”
Speaking with Daily Sun last night on telephone, Mahmoud Abdullahi, former Chief Press Secretary to ex-Niger State Governor, Abdulkadir Kure, insisted that the rebuttal signed by IBB remained the authentic statement.
He said: “I was with General Babangida in the presence of Brigadier-General Halilu Akilu and Mohammed Babangida, when he denied the statement written and signed by Afegbua.
“He did not get IBB’s consent to release the statement and IBB is really upset that he even went ahead defending himself on television.
“When I saw Afegbua’s statement, I went to see IBB and he told me to write a rebuttal which I did, and he signed it.
“He said he never authorised Afegbua to release such statement, that is the reason for the rebuttal which he personally signed.” (The Sun)

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Buhari Came To Power At Difficult Time, Says Orji Kalu |The Republican News

Orji-Uzor-Kalu1

Former Governor of Abia state, CEO SLOK Group, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu

•Says Nigeria will exit recession in 2019

Sunday Ani

Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu has said that President Muhammadu Buhari came to power at a time there was recession all over the world, adding that the situation was made worse by the fact that the president equally met an empty treasury.
Kalu, who spoke on AIT monitored programme said the President was putting every necessary stimulus into the economy to ensure that the country exits recession by 2019. He disagreed with those who said that the country was already out of recession, saying, “When I see people who said they are economists saying we are out of recession, I say they don’t understand what they are talking about because we are not out of recession. Government already has a roadmap to be out of recession and I can assure you that this government is determined to see it happen. But, you can’t just tell people that we are out of recession; you can’t do that because the indices are there. What the president and the government are doing is to continue to pump in stimulus, which is what the economy needs to come out of recession. And I can see us moving out of recession in 2019.”
The former governor also said that the president is under pressure from the international intelligence communities not to say more of what he had seen about looting in Nigeria. “The president is restraining himself because if he opens his mouth to say what happened in NNPC or central bank, Nigerians will not feel good about governance,” he said.
Kalu equally said that the problem in Libya, which led to upsurge of emigrants into Nigeria and the president’s health challenges, caused a lot of havoc on his plan for the country. He said: “And secondly, with the world recession, you also had problem of people migrating into the country from Libya because of the problem there, and some of them came in with a lot of arms. You also see that the president became sick and the medical attention also caused a lot of havoc on his plan. I am not speaking for him because I am not his spokesman but as a party man, I believe he has done well in some areas.”
He noted that the president has not done very well in terms of economy, but added that “he is grappling with it. There is a lot of stimulus going into the economy.”
On why he ventured into politics, having achieved so much before the age of 29, he said he went into politics to help communities and serve the people. “That is why when people talk, I laugh at them because by the time I was going into politics, I have worked anywhere I liked. I was a member of First Bank, Hallmark BanK and Oando boards. I was also chairman of two banks and I was solidly a cocoa trader, a rice trader and a successful industrialist. I have one of the largest furniture factory in Maiduguri and the Happy Home furniture in Kirikiri, Lagos,” he said.
As the governor of Abia State, he said his major achievement was giving education to the people of Abia and its environs. “I was able to give education to our people; they had no education and I am very proud to say that. The kids get excited when they see me on the road today,” he said.
He also narrated an incident where a young lady openly accepted that what she got in Abia State under his administration was real free education. He also stated that Abia State under his administration had started with free education up to the secondary school level even before former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme.
“People were paying N7000 in Abia State university because I was paying N93,000 for 35 students. We wrote cheques every month to give back to the university. They pay N7000 and we made it up to N100,000 by paying N93,000. Even before Obasanjo came up with the UBE programme in primary and secondary schools, we had full free education for secondary schools in Abia State. People from other states enjoyed it. The greatest investment we made was in education. We also built a lot of roads but those roads have collapsed today,” he stated.
When asked the rationale behind his eating akara on the road side with common people, Kalu said: “It is not about common people; it is to practice what I started with. It is only fools who think that they have arrived and that they cannot go back.”
He said that during the last Christmas festivities, he visited many houses to dine and wine with them in his Igbere community. “In a day we visited almost 50 houses. That is how I started and I can’t stop. Even if you make me president tomorrow, I will still do the same thing because that is the right thing to do.”
He argued that when the rich interact with the poor and give back to society, there would be peace. He also said that there is zero percent robbery and violent crimes in Igbere because as a community, the rich have decided to associate and socialize with the poor and give back to the community.
“In Igbere, there are good people who are sociable and religious. We are trying to portray our community for what it is. There are so many people who do community service; they give back to community. We agreed as a community that we must be giving back to the people. Our last cultural festival was superb. We don’t do medicine in my community. In Igbere, there is no native doctor because we don’t believe in it. We believe in God,” he submitted.   (The Sun)

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Fayose Criticies Buhari Over Appointment Of Northerner As NIA DG |RN

Says, ‘Buhari is unrepentant sectional leader’

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has chided President Muhammadu Buhari over replacement of the sacked National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director General, Ambassador Ayo Oke with Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, a northerner, saying; “The President has further demonstrated to Nigerians that he is an unrepentant sectional leader, who does not care about the feelings of people from other parts of the country.”
The governor said; “With the appointment of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the NIA Director General, all heads of security agencies are now northerners and the question is, is this what those who enshrined federal character in our constitution envisaged?”
The governor’s Special Assistant on public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, quoted him as saying in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, that “seeing what President Buhari has turned the country to, the forefathers of Nigeria, who laid the foundation of the country on equity, justice and fairness will be lamenting wherever they are now.”
He said; “Ambassador Ayo Oke was removed from office the same day Babachir Lawal was removed as Secretary to the Government of the Federation. While Lawal’s replacement came from his home State, Oke’s replacement came from the north. That is unacceptable.”
Governor Fayose, who reminded Nigerians of the President Buhari’s directive that the World Bank should shift its focus to the northern region of Nigeria, maintained that “because of the President’s nepotism, religious bigotry and favouritism, Nigeria is now more divided than ever before.
He said it remained on record that President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim reportedly said that in his very first meeting with President Buhari, he (Buhari) said specifically that he would like the World Bank to shift its focus to the northern region of Nigeria.
The governor said “President Buhari has consistently demonstrated that he is an ethnic champion, a religious bigot and the number one promoter of disunity in Nigeria. This he has done again with the appointment of yet another northerner as the NIA Director General.
“Even at a point, the National Chairman of the President’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Oyegun had to openly fault the appointments made by the President, saying that as many as three people were appointed from one ward in a local government in the north.
“The implication of what the President has done is that, when Security Council meeting is held today, apart from one or two insignificant people, those in the meeting will be people from one section of the country.
“Even para-military agencies are headed by people from President Buhari’s section of the country. This is unfair.”
Reminding Nigerians of his earlier warnings that President Buhari was operating as a president of the Northern Nigeria only and the the appointments made by the President negated the principle of federal character, Governor Fayose said; “Those who argued then that the President made the appointments on merit should come to the open to tell Nigerians, especially those from the south that there is no one that merited appointment as Director General of NIA.
“Like I said before, those politicians, who painted the picture of a changed President Buhari to Nigerians before the 2015 presidential election must have seen now that he (Buhari) can never change from an ethnic champion to a nationalist,” Governor Fayose said. (The Sun)

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2017: Tough Year But Better Days Ahead , Buhari Says During Christmas Call |RN

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that 2017 had been a very tough year for Nigeria, but expressed optimism that 2018 will be a more prosperous one.

The President stated this when he received a delegation of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) residents who paid him Christmas homage in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari noted with delight that God had answered the prayers of Nigerians as the rainy season was good and farmers recorded bumper harvest across the country.

“It has been a tough year for Nigeria and I hope next year will be a much more prosperous one.

“But God listened to the majority of us, the rainy season was very good and some states have got very good information from home; I never knew that the people from Kano who are more resourceful used to go to my area and hire farms, this year nobody hired farm, and nobody regretted it.

“And again the second one from the Gov. of Sokoto State said all the people that really registered early to perform last pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia were farmers. But he didn’t tell me if they took additional wives.

“But I am very pleased that people have gone back to the land with very good harvests,’’ he said.

Buhari used the opportunity to commend religious leaders for partnering with government in ensuring peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethno-religious groups in the country.

He stated that reports reaching him from security organisations across the country indicated that the religious leaders had been assisting the security agents in the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the society.

“I thank you very much for coming, especially the religious leaders.

“I am very pleased you are doing your best from the intelligence I am getting to make sure that people live as good neighbours and good Nigerians,’’ said the president.

Buhari, who also spoke on his recent miraculous medical recovery, said his absolute adherence to doctors’ instruction and orders was responsible for his improved health conditions.

He said: “It has been a tumultuous year. I thought I was 74 but I was told I was 75 I have never been so sick even the 30 months civil war (when) I was stumbling under farm of yams or cassava but this sickness I don’t know but I came out better.

“All those who saw me before and when I came back said I look much better, but I have explained it to the public that as a General I used to give orders now I take orders; the doctors told me to feed my stomach and sleep for longer hours that is why I am looking much better.’’

The delegation and Minister of the FCT, Alhaji Musa Bello, had earlier thanked God for not only restoring the President’s health, but also making him stronger and better looking.

“This is the third homage and we have never seen you better as you look today,’’ he said.

The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), FCT Chapter, Mr Jonah Samson, lauded the Buhari administration for its performances in the fight against corruption and insurgency in the country.

Samson, who also commended the administration’s efforts towards ensuring security of life and property of citizens, urged the government to provide additional employment opportunities to address youth restiveness in the country.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of Christmas cards to the president by the FCT minister and the Chaplain of the Aso Rock Chapel.

(Source: NAN)

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