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OPINION

Public institutions and public trust, By Jerome-Mario Utomi.

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Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

Monday 24h  June 2019.

The Editor,

Greetings.

Please, kindly find below/attached an opinion article with the above subject for publication; for the benefits of the reading public.

Again, many thanks.

Jerome-Mario Utomi,

jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

08032725374

Public Institutions and Public Trust

By; Jerome-Mario Utomi.

Talking about the public institution, Mahatma Gandhi in his autobiography titled; The Story of My Experiment with Truth, among other things stated that a public institution is an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds of the public, warning that whenever such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist.

Institutions maintained on permanent funds, he noted, are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. And concluded that India at every step experienced situations where public institutions instead of living like nature, from day to day, abandoned the ideals of public trust.

Indeed, if such worry expressed about a century ago was ugly, what is currently happening here is a crisis. As the same attitude of ignoring public opinions has become a word made flesh, and now dwell among public institutions in Nigeria.

Concretely, developed societies encourage public institutions to get in constant touch with reality and open dialogues with well-informed but quietly influential citizens and organizations in order to benefit from their experience and expertize.

But what we have here is but a direct opposite- as the public institutions are against all known logic  reputed for flagrant disregard of public opinions, advice and requests from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations; that ordinarily ought to be their partners in the business of moving the nation forward.

Telling evidence of such scourge is the Code of Conduct Bureau’s (CCB) recent refusal to grant the Freedom of Information’s (FOI) request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) for the release of copies of the declaration forms of former state governors and Presidents on the grounds that the declaration forms are private documents.

Admittedly, some documents are lawfully tagged classified. However, looking at commentaries, apart from the fact that power to decide whether the private document in a public office remain private or otherwise lies not within CCB but the Court, its refusal  to the request curiously negates provisions by both the ‘UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which clearly articulates important roles for civil society in the fight against corruption further plagued the Bureau’s argument’.

And runs contrary to the provisions of Section 1(1) of the FOI Act which clearly stated thus; notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.

Working under this condition, one becomes more and more occupied with questions as to how this attitude of public institutions in Nigeria can be corrected particularly as the sole aim of such establishments is service. Who will stop this progressive decay in our public institutions which like an unchained torrent of water is submerging our ‘political and socioeconomic countrysides?  Should we allow it to continue, leaving the nation to enjoy or suffer whatever fruit it bears in future?

Obviously, in my opinion, our principal duty for the moment should be to find out factors fueling public institution inefficiencies and disobedience to public opinion.

And as far back as I can remember a link inevitably exists in practical as well as moral terms, between these frosty behaviours of our public institution and bureaucracy which characterizes public administration in Nigeria.

Specifically, nothing supports this claim more than the position as argued by Robert Kiyosaki, a world acclaimed management consultant, where he among other concerns noted that the problem with the world is that many allow their institutions to be led by bureaucrats. And went ahead to define a bureaucrat as someone who is in the position of authority such as government/public office but who takes no professional and financial risks. And further underlined that a bureaucrat can lose a lot of money but they do not lose any of their own. They get paid whenever they do a job or not.

The above without  doubt explains why many Ministries, Departments and some other Government Agencies in Nigeria is without strategic plans in spite of development practitioners arguments that strategies and policies are fundamental to the progress and development of institutions. Having known that their salaries will be paid with or without doing any work, many of the public institutions don’t bother reviewing their policies.  Even in some extreme cases, the implementation of the existing policies have been characterized by discontinuity, reversals and somersaults’

It is on good the ground that one of the most basic of these realities is that since independence in October 1960, the country has demonstrated that there is no development plan that achieved fully its core objectives- a fault traceable to lack of systematic planning framework that ensures adequate data and research, good information system, monitoring and evaluation.

However, poor service delivery may not be the only consequence or bureaucracy, the only explanation for flagrant disregard of public opinion by public institutions.

The barefaced illusion by these civil servants that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens is a contributing factor. This baffling disposition in effect prepares the ground for exercising power and responsibility, not as a trust for the public good, but as an opportunity for private gains and promotes nepotism, cronyism and corruption as consequences.

Next to gross poverty of history which roundly prevents these bureaucrats learning from the consequences that befell their predecessor who ignored public opinion, is the excruciating poverty in the land which drives more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders insensible to demand quality service from public institutions.

 

Looking ahead, If truly a people- purposed leadership is what we seek if the accelerated economy is our goal, if social and cultural development is our dreams if promoting peace, supporting our industries and improving our energy sector forms our objectives, then, the solution lies  in the government’s  urgent recognition that those structures that created failures in those institutions will also prevent the  implementation of incentives that will improve performance. Also, attempting to engineer prosperity without first confronting the root cause of the problem and the politics that kept them in the place is a mere waste of time.

While calling for the restructuring of  public  institution to deliver service, Mr President should start thinking public-private-partnership for key responsibilities such as infrastructural development-a structural and managerial model globally recognized for curbing bureaucracy and corruption in public institutions and instilling public trust.

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OPINION

Tasks before Kyari in turning around NNPC, By Abba Dukawa

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ALL eyes are now on Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Male Kolo Kyari in turning around the fortunes of the Corporation and also need to make the company to be runs in very transparent ways.  In view the challenges before him in whirling the NNPC to practice the best norm in the world oil industries.  There is need for Kyari, to focus his attention on the implementation of the findings of the audit reports of the NEITI which has severally indicted the NNPC of operational maleficence. Nigerians were expected see that his nicked mane of Mr. Transparent really translated into the way he will tackle on poor transactional transparency, as NNPC had over time recorded differences in actual volume of crude oil lifted and actual volume of production NEITI stated.  

A recent World Bank report had shown that Nigeria spent N731 billion to subsidizes petrol consumption last year. The report had explained that within the year under review, Nigeria’s oil sector declined in productivity, ending on 1.9 million barrels a day (mbd) production mark as against the government’s hope of 2.3mbd.

In April 2019, Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) in its publication of National Oil Company Database, place NNPC as one of National Oil Companies (NOCs) with record challenges of transparency.   There is need for Kyari to initiate a see-through process in management of the corporation’s operations and also making it more profitable. It’s hardly and even became part of NNPC tradition not disclosed its net income from core revenues; capital and operational expenditures; cash flows from operations; total assets worth to public.

Saudi owned of National Oil Company ARAMCO raked in profits of £85 billion in 2018 as most profitable company making more than Apple and Google combine. Aramco raked in more cash than global ITC giant companies, Apple made roughly $60 billion, while Exxon Mobil made roughly $20 billion). The Wall Street Journal reported. ARAMCO revealed details of its finances for the first time since it was nationalized in the Seventies as part of a push ahead of its first bond sale.

Nigerians expected to see Kyari turning around the fortunes of NNPC into rakes profitable national oil company through openness, transparency and accountability. Establish a concrete economic Diversification plan with a concrete path to a post-oil future for Nigeria, based on emerging global trends.

This plan, akin to the Saudi Arabian government’s economic diversification plan, should include a clear strategy with interlinked policies – trade, industrial, fiscal – and far-reaching structural and governance reforms of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that could include partial privatization (with share listed on the stock exchange for purchase by ordinary Nigerians and not by Government- Related cronies).

The uncanny tasks before GMD are to turn around the nation’s nation feeble refineries remained terribly poor in operation and mostly constituted a deficit to NNPC cash flow. This decades problems placed the NNPC as a mere trader in the oil industry as against its potentials as a national oil company capable of establishing and running profitable ventures in the Upstream  and Downstream sectors of the industry. Finding a lasting solution would in many ways be a plus to Kyari and his team.   Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recorded losses in the region of N551.46bn between January 2015 and December 2018. The Corporation repeatedly failed to meet projected profits as its subsidiaries, particularly refineries, running cost at the headquarters and other arms left whopping deficits.

 

Things you need to know about Kyari

Male Kolo Kyari was appointed to head production sharing contracts management in the Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD). Also led the team that proposed and managed the Direct Sales And Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of petroleum products from 2016 till date replacing the Crude Swap Arrangement. Under his watch, the Crude Oil Marketing Division has recorded noticeable transformation in the management and sales of the various Nigeria’s crude oil grades via an infusion of transparency and automation of the processes.

He contributed to reconcile alleged loss of $48 billion and established actual status of transactions involving NNPC in 2014. Malam Kolo Kyari pursued the determination of the tenure of the Amenam/Kpono carry arrangement with potential savings of over $1 billion; he also revised and initiated the process for the redetermination of the Applicable Fiscal Regime for the Addax PSC with potential shortterm savings of $1.6 billion. As the group general manager, crude oil marketing division. He created systems to ensure maximum transparency and accountability of crude oil and gas sales in the industry. He was the supervisor of production sharing contract for the NNPC.

Mr. Transparent’ he was one of the major people that came up with the NNPC’s commodity trading initiative. This initiative makes it possible for the government to know those who are buying the country’s crude and at what prices, and how much has been made. Kyari led various teams in developing the petroleum industry bill (PIB) that redefined the government’s take in production sharing contracts with oil companies. He was the secretary of the FG INTER-AGENCY team that coordinated the creation of the current basis of the fiscal and regulatory framework of the PIB.

He  is  unionists, per excellent and he is  fearless  toward welfare of his follows members and Kyari popularly called ‘Grand Chairman or Mr Transparency by other  comrades in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) often refer to him as a comrade after he was group chairman of NNPC PENGASSAN.

Male Kolo Kyari won four awards, namely: GMD Prize for the Overall Best Performance for NNPC Management Development Program; GED CS Award for Best Performance in Leadership; GM Group Learning Division award for Best Project work, NNPC Management Development Programme; and Examiners award for 1st Runner-up for Effective Presentation.

Dukawa a public commentator and can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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OPINION

Yobe governor, R3 and other tasks, By Abba Dukawa

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All eyes are now on Mai Mala Buni to consolidate on the achievements of Gaidam and equally expand the frontiers of development in Yobe State. The state had its own bitter taste of the Boko Haram insurgency, which practically stalled development in areas that have direct impact on human capital development indices.

Even with these mountainous challenges, former Governor Gaidam has performed greatly in provision of infrastructure and social services ranging from health care delivery to schools, roads, agriculture and building the confidence of the citizenry in the government.

According to Albert, the purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will that will help others.
Described by most people as gentle, generous, humble, trustworthy, extremely loyal and down-to-earth, Gaidam no doubt, displayed high and esteemed leadership qualities which endeared to the people of the state.

He has made exceptional strides in special intervention in the areas of education, health, agriculture, and women/youth empowerment among others.

Indeed, he perfectly fitted into the postulation by John C Maxwell when he said: “Success knows your purpose in life, growing maximum potential and sowing seeds that will benefit others.”

Based on the purpose of the administration to achieve great tasks, it needs to implement far-reaching policies and programmes toward making the state to realise its full potentials to greatness through the policy of continuity and consolidation of legacies or achievements recorded by the former administration.

Governor Mala reiterated his administration readiness to explore and exploit new avenues and opportunities locally, nationally and internationally, to improve and expand the existing structured policies and programmes for delivering maximum dividends of democracy to the people.

In his inaugural speech, Governor Mala unveiled his administration’s readiness to partner with North East Development Commission, local and international humanitarian organizations toward the implementation of his ambitious Resettlement, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (R3), for the people affected by insurgency to live a life of honor and dignity. He also proffers to create employment opportunities to stimulate the economy for improved revenue generation and industrialize the state for the greater wealth creation.

The state’s economy is largely dependent on the federal allocation with very low Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), however Governor Buni is set to change this trend of the state dependency on the monthly federal allocation because the state is blessed with economic trees and massively housed by plants such as sesame seeds; while the product is in high industrial demand for pharmaceuticals and confectionary use in Europe, America, Middle East and Asia.

To support his vision for making the state economically improved, the governor sees it deem to exploit the state solid mineral potentials and its rich agricultural lands which can turn around its economic fortunes for better.

If the administration puts to use the state numerous solid mineral deposits that are in commercial quantities which were being verified of high quality including Limestone, Kaolin, and Gypsum among others, this vision can turn around the economic fortunes of the state, which has huge potential.

Livestock farmers would be supported and provided with incentives to boost production accordingly. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s record shows there is estimated livestock population of three million goats being the highest in the country with over 2.7 million herds of cattle and 2.1 million sheep. Farmers in the state are also not left behind as the administration is set to provide tractors to farmers at the beginning of every rainy season across the 17 local government areas of the state.

To achieve his economic and human development, Buni assured people of the state that his administration would intensify efforts to put into better economic use by reviving and putting back to production of the government-owned companies like, Gujba Fertiliser Blending Plant, Polythene, Woven Sacks Factory, and the Yobe Flour and Feed Mills and the Sahel Aluminium Company in order to create employment opportunities and boost internal revenue.

Already the governor has directed the State Ministry of Commerce and Investment to undertake comprehensive analyses and submit report on what might be needed to revive, resuscitate or replace and upgrade the equipments in these respective companies.

On infrastructural development, Buni is posed to construct new roads, among others and set to construct modern markets in major towns and provide befitting trailer park in Potiskum and some other towns and guaranteeing peoples of the state to complete all projects inherited from the former administration.

His administration also pledged to provide one healthcare centre in each of the 178 political wards in the state, and considered it necessary to upgrade the capacities of health institutions in the state by providing state-of-the-art medical facilities and equipments to provide the best services to the people. All these will enhance healthcare delivery to the people of the state.

In his efforts to align his manifesto, campaign promises and the vision and mission outlined, a committee will be formed to set out implementation priorities and strategies in the short, medium and long term basis covering each sector for government intervention after proper assessment.

It is worthy to note that Buni’s administration will pursue every opportunity with high sense of responsibility to ensure that what rightly belongs to the state in terms of appointments, projects and programmes are given to it.

According to him, the administration would partner with our national legislators to pursue their entitlements with vigour vis-à-vis pledging that the state’s quota in federal appointments are fully accessed and occupied by his people while vivacious desk officers would be established at the Abuja Liaison Office to monitor and pursue their dues and entitlements.

He affirms that the era of short changing the state is over.

Dukawa public affairs commentator, can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail.com

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OPINION

Is MultiChoice Nigeria above the law?

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By Adewole Kehinde

 

MultiChoice Africa was born on the African continent and its history can be traced back to 1986 when a number of South African media companies formed Africa’s first pay TV channel, M-Net.

From humble beginnings, M-Net grew much faster than anticipated. In 1990 it became the first television company to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and in 1992 the company first used satellite transmission to reach more than 20 African countries with an analogue service.

In 1995, MultiChoice launched its premium DStv bouquet on a newly-constructed digital platform, which has since grown to cover nearly 50 countries in Africa and adjacent Indian Ocean islands, offering a range of pay-television services with a variety of language options and excellent quality viewing.

Millions of Nigerians are subscribed to DStv; at least a household in Nigeria has DStv or GOtv installed.

The subscription rates have been an issue in recent times as Multichoice Nigeria increases the subscription without putting the consumers into consideration.

One of the major complains from many interviewed is that films are been repeated several times despite the subscription; they rarely introduced news films among their movies.

Another concern was why is DStv not operating Pay As You Watch instead of the monthly subscription whether your decoder is active or not, your subscription is always reading.

Recently, a judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, in Abuja has rejected an appeal by Multichoice Nigeria against an interim order prohibiting any increase in its DStv or GOtv subscription rates.

Multichoice Nigeria had on August 24 filed an appeal against the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja stopping it from increasing the subscription rates to its cable television services. The order was given on August 20.

The restraining order was issued in respect of Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/894/18 brought before the court by the Federal Competition Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) in the light of the public outcry raised.

In his order, Mr Dimgba said the interim injunction restrains Multichoice Nigeria or its agents and representatives from “continuing the implementation of any increase in subscription rates or price review policy imposing increased charges and costs on the consumers pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

Besides, the court also restrained DSTV from “further carrying on or continuing any conduct or activity which interferes with or has effect of circumventing the outcome of ongoing investigations by the FCCPC into the company’s compliance or non-compliance with the February 16, 2016 order pending the determination of the motion on notice”.

When the appeal was made, the FCCPC explained that the order stopping implementation of the new tariffs will subsist till the appeal has been heard and ruling given by the court.

This means that the subscription tariffs for Dstv and Gotv ought not to have increased but consumers have been paying the increased tariffs since August.

Under the new price regime, the company said the Premium package subscribers pay about 7.5 per cent more (about N15,800) from about N14,700 every month.

Also, their Compact Plus customers still pay N10,650, from N9,900; Compact bouquets, N6,800, from N6,300, while the family package was increased from N3,800 to N4,000, with Access from N1,900 to N2,000

On Monday, during the court hearing, the judge also refused the application by MultiChoice to adjourn the matter indefinitely.

When asked of the measures taken to ensure Multichoice’s compliance, FCCPC Director General Babatunde Irukera said CPC still holds the position that consumers should be paying the old tariff.

“However, the council’s understanding is that Multichoice is not complying with that order of court so that’s why it was important for the court to agree to clarify the situation,” he said.

I can authoritatively say that Multichoice is not complying with the order of court as people are made to pay the new Premium package subscribers pay N15,800 instead of N14,700 every month.

Also, their Compact Plus customers still pay N10,650, from N9,900; Compact bouquets, N6,800, from N6,300, while the family package was increased from N3,800 to N4,000, with Access from N1,900 to N2,000

From available records, Multichoice Nigeria has not vacated Justice Nnamdi Dimgba interim injunction restrains Multichoice Nigeria or its agents and representatives from “continuing the implementation of any increase in subscription rates or price review policy imposing increased charges and costs on the consumers pending the determination of the motion on notice.”

Is Multichoice Nigeria really above Nigeria’s Law? Who are the people in Government backing Multichoice Nigeria to disobey Court order? Who are the major backers of Multichoice Nigeria that is making them reaping consumers openly? So many questions begging for answers.

 

Adewole Kehinde is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja. @kennyadewole kennyadewole@gmail.com

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