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Oyedepo: The Folly of a Shepherd with Wiser Sheep.

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I had to re-title this write-up in view of the emerging feeble rebuttals of the dating of its video-data and damning acquiesce from the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited.  I had initially titled it: “Oyedepo: Needless Self-Attrition and War of Annihilation” as a follow-up to my “Oyedepo: Caustic Order from a Worldly Investor.”
For an umpteenth time last week on Saturday, January 14, 2017, Nigerian Dailies were awash with screaming headlines such as “Oyedepo: I made those remarks in the heat of Boko Haram Crisis” (The Cable), “Living Faith Church reacts to Video showing founder, Oyedepo, urging members to ‘kill,’” (Premium Times), “Southern Kaduna Killings: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims,” (The Nation), and “Trending: Oyedepo denies inciting Christians against Muslims” (Punch) among the plenitude of headlines.  The headlines’ screaming continued on Sunday, January 15, 2017 with The News’ “Trending Video of Oyedepo tweaked, fraudulent, says Living Faith Church,” and Daily Trust’s “Bishop Oyedepo reacts to trending video.”  Trust bloggers and other Online news harvesters, they were also caught in the frenzy with headlines such as “Video of Oyedepo circulating is old – Winners Chapel” (Naija.com), “[Video] Oyedepo denies calling out for Muslims to be attacked” (NaijaMotherland Daily Nigeria News).
As expected, all the media reported one Special Adviser to Bishop David Oyedepo had claimed that the widely-circulated caustic order least expected from a newly Born-Again Christian not to talk of a Bishop with towering reputation and earthly investments, was issued far back in 2015.
According to Dr. Sheriff Folaranmi, the embattled and now-defensive posterity-preacher, Bishop Oyedepo said that he never incited, didn’t mean to incite, wouldn’t declare war on Muslims and Islam, and never wished that Nigeria split.  Interestingly, neither the Special Adviser nor the Bishop denied the authenticity of the video which has now gone viral online.  What they contested was its dating!
This controversial video isn’t the first that has been linked to the Winners Chapel and the Oyedepo’s family.  Sometimes last year, specifically in the month of November, one of the daughters of Bishop Oyedepo, Joy, shared on her Facebook page the video of the ‘miracle’ she performed on herself.  In the said self-made video, Joy Oyedepo beckoned to the world to watch her as she prayed for her arms to elongate and contrast in a supposedly healing session.  This act of cheap publicity, attention-seeking, self-glorification and miracle-faking of the young Oyedepo was roundly condemned on the social media.  Critics interpreted Joy’s action as a “deliberate ploy and strategic positioning to take-over the sprawling family business of which Winners Chapel is a part.” Others said it was typical of the training the young miracle-worker had received and her initiation into the make-believe atmospheres of miracles in her father’s church. “Why did she get in front of camera to pray for her healing?,” a social media critic wondered.  Criticisms and condemnations poured out until it flooded the expanse Canaanland in Ota and got to the Oyedepos.
On Wednesday, November 16. 2016, Blogger Linka Ikeji stylishly captured the reactions like-father-like-daughter controversial self-made miracle-video as “Pastor Oyedepo’s daughter blasted online after she posted a video of her performing a ‘miracle.’  Consequently, the said ‘fake miracle’-video disappeared from her Facebook page but, too late…it has been copied, downloaded and widely shared!
Despite the controversies about the actual dating of the Bishop Oyedepo’s video, I have decided to revisit the said tape because its contents were never disputed.  Its animated pictures show the embattled Bishop Oyedepo exhibiting unholy anger, dramatizing unChristlike outbursts, inciting unBishoply hatred and ordering unstatesmanly annihilation of the Northerners dubbed as Boko Haram or Islamic forces.
The visibly embittered pastorpreneural Bishop was convinced that Northerners sponsored Boko Haram for political reasons and wondered why the North wants to stay in power for ever. “Must the North continue to ruuuuule?”  Jumping and stamping his feet in rage, the Bishop who lost his voice in the process of fiery-prayers with curses laced with intermittent speaking-in-tongues, ordered his congregation to kill and spill the blood of whoever tries to attack his church, his life-time investments.  Griped by the explicable fear of an investor, Oyedepo shouted: “I was told they were targeting this church, … Even if I was asleep, if you see anybody here [in my church] kill him! Kill him and spill his blood on the ground.”  And throwing all cautions to the winds, Oyedepo shouted like some battle-ready Motor Park touts: “who born their Mothers, who born their Fathers?
They are too small.” Imagine what would have happened to Nigeria if a Muslim President had ordered Bishop David Oyedepo’s arrest for inciting violence against the nation! Hell would have been let loose, as the highly politicised Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) would declared Armageddon as well as the war of Gog and Magog! And the politically-charged Muslim Umaah as the Sultan-led Grand Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (GCIAN) would countered with fatwa and fiery Jihad. Lucky us, Government ignored the Bishop’s tantrum and none of these ever resulted.
Until we finally get the outcome of a likely carbon-dating on the video, Shepherd Oyedepo was convinced that he had succeeded in grooming an army of morons in Winners Chapel.
He was very confident that all Living Faithers in attendance that day had been sufficiently brain-washed and reduced to mindless zombies.  His secret crystal-balls clearly told him that at his order, all the Born-Again Southerners and Northerners would be instantly launch deadly attacks on the Muslim-Northerners.
The self-styled Apostle of Liberalization of the Africa Continent was highly impressed by the sporadic tumultuous Amen-choruses to his fire-declarations and hate-speeches.  “If I put fire on your tail to overrun the city, you will do it in one minute…. If you catch anybody that looks like them, kill him. … There is no reporting to anybody. Kill him and we spill his blood on the grounds,” he declared unequivocally.  The order of the ‘anointed’ Revolutionary anti-Jihadists was without any ambiguities and to which one expected spontaneous conformity.  Sadly and inadvertently, the Bishop declared a war on himself, being a Northerner from Kwara State.
No matter how hard the authorities of the Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited try to deny the evident intent of the video’s contents, the truth is that the embittered Bishop meant his carefully-chosen words.  Thousands of lies and denials cannot drown the truth. Whoever listens and watches the video keenly cannot miss Oyedepo’s deep-seated bitterness against the Northerners.
His grouse is that the Northerners have consistently cheated the Southerners in Nigeria by forging successive censuses to claim advantageous population and disproportionate national resources.  Hear him: “all those zeros censuses, … they are fake.  Where are the human beings?  Where are they?  We go around the place… Where are they?
We’ve never had a successful census in this country.  Where are they?”  The North’s second offense was its connivance to facilitate the escape of a captured Boko Haram member.  “A Boko Haram agent was captured and they said he escaped,” the Bishop alleged the Northerners.  With the confidence that the North wasn’t as populated as claimed, he was very sure that victory would be his army’s if they should go to war.  By converting his ‘sacred’ Altar to a bullying political platform, the Bishop has clearly breached his supposed higher Calling as an Ambassador of Christ.
His vituperations conflict with those of God’s Oracle! It was the columnist Tatalo Alamu who cautioned so-called religious leaders that “to whom much [tithes, offerings, first-fruits, covenant-seeds] is donated, much probity, accountability and fiscal godliness is expected (The Nation, January 15, 2017).  He added that religious leaders should resist the “temptation of turning their exalted platforms to bullying pulpits for…wrestling political and economic concession from the state.”
Were the caustic video recent, one would have expected Nigeria to be engulfed in the ethno-religious wars. But the authorities of Winners Chapel Nigeria Limited said the video was two years old!  The contents of the video were strong enough for people to cast aspersions on the ability of Oyedepo’s God to answer his prayers.
Despite the fact that Boko Haram, Northern Forces and all Islamic Forces were cursed into extinction in the video, they’re very much active two years after their requested death.  Does God really answer Bishop Oyedepo’s prayers?  Some cynics of religions would even question God’s ability to answer any prayer considering the volumes of curses in prayer-houses and cursed-pebbles heaped on Satan regularly during Hajjs to Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the fact that Living Faithers didn’t take to the streets and city killing and maiming Northerners as ordered by their Bishop left one wondering if the congregation was actually in agreement with their Papa.
Interestingly, the Bishop who acted as if he has pocketed God boasted to his congregation that if he prayed for rain to cease, there wouldn’t be rain in Nigeria for three consecutive years!
Curiously, the congregation has not heeded its Papa Bishop’s caustic ordered till now.  Has Oyedepo become a Bishop without a Church?  Is Bishop Oyedepo really in charge of Winners Chapel?  Does the Bishop command any respect from Living Faithers on issues that conflict with basic Bible principles?  Is the Winners Chapel a congregation of rebels?  Has the Oyedepo’s congregation unconsciously embraced unbelief?  Is Bishop Oyedepo now a Shepherd without a Sheep?  Or is it the case of a foolish Shepherd and wise Sheep?
Does Bishop Oyedepo enjoy monopoly of access to God? These and many more questions have agitated my mind considering the evident Command-Obedience discrepancy being experienced.
In conclusion, I would like to commend Living Faithers in attendance that day for keeping their sanity.  I appreciate them for firmly resisting the provocation and instigations to ungodly acts wrapped and delivered from the supposedly holy altar at Canaanland.  I praised them for being wise enough to know that their Bishop has overstretched his anointing.  I thank them for selectively chorusing Amen to prayers and No to the self-serving war declared by their Papa.  My profound gratitude for saving their Papa from destroying himself with his despicable rage.
The commendable disobedience of the teeming Living Faithers have symbolically cautioned their Bishop against pulpit-bullying from which I hope other pastors in Pentecostal Assemblies would have learnt. “Papa n pa ara ẹ, o lo n p’aja” (Every worm’s attack on its dog-host is detrimental to its existence) and “Ida n ba ako je, ko mo pe ile ara oun lohun n ba je” (Whenever a sword tears its sheath, it invariably becomes homeless), the Yoruba always caution against self-attrition.
By Ayodele James Olabisi, Ph.D.

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National Issues

2021: President Buhari’s new year message to Nigerians

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Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has addressed Nigerians in a traditional New Year broadcast.

In the speech, Buhari, on Friday, re-echoed his commitment to the Nigerian project, just as he urged other Nigerians to do the same.

The President’s speech read:

My fellow countrymen and women,

First, I would like to thank and praise the Almighty who saw us through the year 2020 and has given us the opportunity to witness the start of another new year. We especially thank God because the year 2020 was one of the most trying years since our existence as a Nation.

2. This can also be said about all other nations around the world, due to the challenges posed on our collective humanity by the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

3. While acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year, we saw this year put to test our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times and also gave renewed hope that we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.

4. As we celebrate the opportunity before us in this New Year 2021, we must also acknowledge the passing away of our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this New Year. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

5. We must remember that we also celebrated the historic occasion of our sixty years as an independent and sovereign country on October 1st 2020. In the spirit of hope and gratitude, I would like to remind us again that as a country on the difficult journey to nationhood and greatness, we have confounded the many pundits at home and around the world who never gave the newly-born country that emerged unto the world stage on 1st October 1960 a chance of surviving much longer than a few years.

6. Yet, here we are, 61 years by the next anniversary in October, and not only are we here, we are standing tall in the comity of nations as one country united under the will of God and also actively growing that indivisible Nigerian spirit that has enabled us, year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated. This nation, this Nigeria will survive and thrive.

7. In this journey to nationhood, we have experienced the highs and lows. 2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability. This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.

8. In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected President and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required. Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you, and all the key stakeholders who are committed to the unity of Nigeria to ensure that every region of this nation is safe for us all, while guaranteeing that the future is also secure for the coming generation.

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9. I wish to also use this occasion of New Year to reaffirm my commitment to the people of Nigeria, especially the youth who need our collective encouragement and support. In securing this nation we need to secure the future of our youth.

10. Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad. Their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all. Many of our young people are excelling in various spheres of life including sports, entertainment, information and communication technology, commerce and are globally recognized as achievers.

11. As a Government we are committed to actively engaging with the creative energies of our young people. In this regard, we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions. This will create vast opportunities in fintech, agriculture, business process startups and in the entertainment industry.

12. The year 2021 will indeed be a year where we will work to reinforce the hopes of fellow Nigerians in the vision of a united and progressive Nigeria. This administration would continue focusing on delivering key strategic priorities under our “SEA” – (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) Agenda. Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include:

ON THE SECURITY:

13. Re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.

14. In line with the current security challenges, we are facing as a Nation, I would like to reiterate the promise I made recently when over 300 of our boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara were successfully rescued by our security operatives.

15. The professionalism shown by our Security Forces and the collaboration from all stakeholders across both State and Federal Governments that led to the successful rescue of the boys is proof that Nigeria has the internal capacity to decisively deal with terror attacks on our citizens.

16. However, we recognize that we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and preemptive posture to ensure that these sorts of traumatic incidents do not become a norm. Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.

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ON THE ECONOMY:

17. Our focus is on revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency. This has helped reduce the growing food related inflationary figures and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lock down.

18. We are also currently rebuilding our national infrastructure base and, in the process, introducing transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports.

19. The reforms we have put in place in the power sector would guarantee increased efficiency in our drive to significantly expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.

20. As an administration we are currently undertaking a series of special interventions designed to boost job creation and support the entrepreneurial drive of our youths.

21. With the recent opening of our borders, we expect that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce.

22. The message to our West African neighbours is that Nigeria is once again fully open for those willing to conduct business in a fair and equitable way.

ANTI-CORRUPTION:

23. On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have recorded substantial gains so far and this year, we are committed to continuing along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight.

24. While we would be working with the Legislature to enact laws that would strengthen this fight, we would also be looking at reviewing some of our laws which would ensure that this fight is more effective. On the part of the executive, we would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases, while appealing to the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are dispensed with expeditiously.

25. The persistence of various forms of violence has meant that in the most affected parts of the country, the fabric of inter-communal harmony woven through years of investment of effort at building trust, mutual respect, and harmony has been threatened.

26. Insecurity as a challenge has direct repercussions on our national economic stability, growth, and development, setting us back at critical points through the destruction of public and private investments.

27. In parts of the country where chronic poverty, social exclusion, and disillusionment among sections of the youth were already a problem, the cycles of violence that have been unleashed by mindless groups like Boko Haram and others have thwarted the efforts of government to undertake the social policy and associated investments that could make a huge difference in the quality of life of our citizens.

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28. I am aware that for some of our compatriots, the progress we have registered since the inception of this administration is not nearly as fast or as sufficient as they would wish. I do not begrudge them their views in so far as they signify a wish, in which we all share, for only the very best for our country.

29. Nevertheless, I call upon all Nigerians to carefully recall the circumstances of our coming to office, the facts on the ground and the resources at our disposal since 2015 with the accomplishments of this administration.

30. As a people, we have shown admirable resilience in the face of every adversity, an unmatched capacity to recover speedily from every setback, an unparalleled generosity of spirit when we resolve our differences, and a constant readiness to invest faith and hope in the destiny we share as a united country built on the diversity of its peoples.

31. It is these attributes that underpin the Nigerian spirit of “can do, will do” that gives me hope that we shall yet get to destination and fulfill our calling together, especially with the solid resolutions we are setting in this new year.

32. Keeping our country on a forward march is a duty which we all have and share. In this regard, keeping our country safe from a resurgent cycle of COVID-19 as this administration finalizes its plans to procure and efficiently and effectively distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, I urge you all fellow citizens to observe strict COVID-19 prevention protocols.

33. As your elected President, my pledge to you is the same as it has always been; I will play my part fully and without fear or favour. I invite all of us to do the same. It is what we owe to the founding generation of our beloved country and also to the coming generation. It is what we desire for national prosperity for all demands.

34. Long Live the Nigerian spirit of oneness, togetherness, and unity. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

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SWEGOP charges Buhari, S’West governors to address increased insecurity

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South West Group of Online Publishers, (SWEGOP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Southwest governors and other stakeholders to put in place modalities that will check the activities of the hoodlums and criminals disrupting the peace of the nation.

Online publishers decried the increasing rate of lawlessness and criminalities in all the nooks and crannies of the country.

SWEGOP, in a statement signed by its Chairman,  Olayinka Agboola and the Public Relations Officer,  Remi Oladoye described the alarming rate of attacks on innocent citizens and members of the general public as a worrisome situation, which requires an urgent solution.

It further noted that since the end of #EndSARS campaign which was hijacked by hoodlums,  the crime rates have been on a high increase and the security operatives seems to have lost control of the ugly situation.

“The situation we have found ourselves is nothing  but a reckless abandonment of  responsibilities  by those saddled with  the task. Everybody  including officers of the  security  agencies now live with the fear of being attack by the hoodlums  who are kidnapping , robbing and killing people for rituals.

SWEGOP calls on stakeholders in the country not to leave the role of protecting lives and properties to government alone but see it as a task that must be done by all and sundry.

While commending the South West governors for launching  Amotekun corps, the group however urged the  militia group to do their work diligently and collaborate with other security  agencies in their respective states to curb the crime rates in the society.

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Pan-Yoruba group, carpets S’West governors on insecurity, charges them to empower Amotekun

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Governors of the South-West States of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo Oyo and Osun have been accused of grossly abdicating their primary constitutional duty of protecting the lives and properties of their citizens, judging by the escalating security crisis in the region.

A pan-Yoruba group, the Majeobaje Movement, leveled the allegation in a ‘save our souls’ letter to the Chairman of the South-West Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, which was copied to the five other governors.

In the letter leaked to the press, the Movement described itself an alliance of professionals, entrepreneurs, policy specialists and academics concerned about and working for improved governance in Nigeria.

The group decried the spate of killings, kidnappings, rape and sundry criminal activities ravaging the region under the governors’ watch, with the attendant loss of lives of many illustrious citizens and the destruction of their livelihoods.

Majeobaje wondered why the much trumpeted South West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, is yet to be effectively pressed into the service of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of the region, against the high expectations of the citizens.

It highlighted several unresolved security breaches in the region especially in different parts of Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Ogun states, which had caused anguish to many families.

The group said it is worrying that little or nothing had been done by the government of these states to mitigate the sufferings of residents in the hands of violent herdsmen, kidnappers, rapists and armed robbers or to bring the band of criminals to justice.

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The group further stated, “Insecurity in the SW has now reached a crisis point, partly because the Federal Government refuses to act decisively, and also because our SW governors are failing to use Amotekun effectively.

“Because banditry has overwhelmed the Northwest, Fulani herdsmen are fleeing desertification, victims of Boko Haram in the Northeast are seeking refuge, and the unemployed from all parts of Nigeria are looking for work, these people are now streaming mostly into our SW states.

“They often do so with a high level of aggression including bearing of AK47 rifles with which our people are being raped and killed with scant regard to the sanctity of life, our culture or the rule of law.”

In a five-point recommendation, Majeobaje wants the governors to act decisively in stamping out criminal activities within the region and ensure that citizens sleep with both eyes closed, especially now that the end-of-the-year festivities have peaked.

The recommendations:
1) That the six governors should urgently allocate more funds to Amotekun so the outfit can be fully equipped and recruit more personnel to improve its operations, especially by the deployment of Surveillance Drones and Forest Rangers. The ongoing assistance to conventional security agencies should be enhanced and sustained.

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2) Use new and existing laws to revamp Neighborhood Associations and to strengthen LGA Security Committees to include Traditional Rulers, Amotekun/Police and Vigilantes. These two units will help document residents, deter criminals, and collate data to monitor the activities and welfare of itinerant workers such as Okada riders, farm workers, herders and others.

3) Encourage the setting up of private security companies that will specialize in intelligence gathering services as well as the imperative use of drones for aerial surveillance and the investigation of kidnappings.

4) Set up or reboot a Security Trust Fund in each state in such a way that will encourage and compel the private sector to support with funding and management of these security initiatives.

5) Demonstrate leadership by physically leading the charge to secure your states, by mobilizing resources at the front lines, and by rekindling the hopes of our farmers, their families and other residents to demonstrate that their governors have not abandoned them to the impunities of marauding forces.

The Majeobaje Movement cautioned that ‘before Apocalypse arrives,’ Governor Akeredolu and his brother governors must urgently act so that the long suffering people of the six states are not left with no option than resort to self-help, the consequences of which can only be imagined for both leaders and the led.

The group said, “We, therefore, call on you and your colleagues to rise up today, take leadership and fulfill your primary purpose of protecting and defending the lives and properties of your people!

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“If you fail to urgently do the needful by pushing back the marauders, we are concerned that our anxious people may regain their composure and be left with no other option than to defend themselves,” the group stated firmly.

Assuring the governors of their highest regard always, the letter dated 12th December, 2020 was signed on behalf of its general membership by its steering committee members including Chief Akintayo Akin-Deko, Sir Gbenga Adebusuyi, Revd. Muyiwa Bamgbose and Mr Ibukun Fakeye.

Other signatories included Dr Dolapo Sikuade, Mr Deola Kumapayi, Mr Yomi Layinka and Mr Ayo Oyerinde.

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