CSOs, election monitoring groups positive of high voters turnout
Nigerians, according to Abdiel Kude of Global Community Prime Initiative (GCPI), Kaduna, are willing to come out and vote today, despite the initial postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, irrespective of political affiliation.
Kude said: “The motivating factor for Nigerians voting in these elections is simply to exercise their franchise. Nigerians have a greater consciousness of politics and democracy, which is growing by the way. That Nigerians place a great premium on exercising their civic duty in electing their leaders is wisdom without doubt.”
Project Director of Vision Spring Initiatives, Ngozi Nwosu-Juba, said some Nigerians feared that the elections might not be violence free, while others believed their votes would not count due to the concern that the elections has been compromised by INEC’s lack of readiness, saying: “In my estimation, at least 10 per cent of Nigerians who had planned to vote will no longer do so.”
Nwosu-Juba reckoned that for those who would still vote, their motivation might come from the understanding of their civic responsibility or the desire to bring in a leadership of their choice.
She disclosed that the CSOs have been creating awareness through social media platforms, such as Whatsapp, town hall meetings and training for observers and volunteers, hoping that these efforts would yield the desired result.
Executive Director of Ovie Brume Foundation, Adeola Awogbemi, foresees some voter apathy as a result of the postponement, but quickly added: “I believe voters will come out this Saturday (today), but less than expected because this election has already been compromised with the news of election materials falling into wrong hands.
“The only motivating factor is the fact that Nigerians are voting according to their desires for a new Nigeria that will usher in better standard of living.”
According to the Executive Director of SERDEC and youth representative on the TMG Board, Tijani Abdulkareem, Nigerians are passionate about been part of a process that would define the future of our democracy: “Hence I am optimistic that a lot of people will surely come out to vote. This election is about what should happen to end poverty, employment and insecurity. The people are motivated by the fact that things have changed and votes will count.
“The introduction of technology into our voting process has built some level of assurance, credibility, integrity and accountability. It is no longer business as usual, so it is all up to the people to come out and vote for the candidates of choice.
“The lifting of ban on campaign had encouraged political parties to further reach out to the people to renew their hope and encourage them to come out and vote on Saturday (today).
“CSOs mobilised the people to come out and vote. TMG have issued a press statement urging Nigerians to come out and vote. We have had a citizen engagement meeting across the states and deployed over 4000 observers across the country to observe the conduct of the elections.”
For Lady Vickie Uremma Onyekuru of Southwest Freedom of Information Network, Nigerians are willing and ready to turn out to vote today, judging from feelers and her interaction with a cross-section of voters.
Juliana Osakue, Chairperson of Osi Joe Touching Lives Initiative was optimistic that Nigerians would be willing to vote, because of the improvement in political awareness, even as she said the motivating factor is the desire to change or maintain the status quo.
“INEC took a major step in political education of the masses already, which is creating an enabling environment, while civil societies continued to encourage and monitor flashpoint areas to calm fears.”
Mrs. Ahmed Yusuff Fausat said that she would cast her vote, as it is part of her responsibility as a citizen to elect a leader that would champion the peoples’ course. So, no matter the odds, “I will discharge my duty by making use of my PVC to vote for a good leader.
“The motivation is to have a good, honest and God-fearing leader who knows our problems and who will provide us with quantity and quality education, good health care, good roads, sustainable economy, job opportunity for our youths, empowerment for farmers, opportunity for women and children welfare and most importantly, general wellbeing of the populace. May God guide us to have peaceful, free fair and credible elections throughout the country.”
For Louisa Eikhomun, though disenchanted, voting is a civic duty; hence despite the long travel to her place of registration last week in vain, she would still embark on the journey, which she saw as a sacrifice of a dutiful Nigerian.
Mr. Gideon Ayogu is motivated to take partake in the process that would potentially yield a change of government and a better Nigeria, while Zainab Issa is not very sure she would be voting, even though she was really advocating for people to come out and vote last week.
She has suddenly lost hope in the set of people at the helm of affairs in the country, while Tosin Matthew-Akinsiku would be voting because she truly wants a change in this country.
“I believe, as individuals, we determine the change we aspire by going out to vote, not minding the postponement,” she stated.
Fola Akinwunmi, a resident of Ogun State, but undergoing a course in Lagos, had to skip classes to enable her travel to Abeokuta for the botched election, had no plan to return to Abeokuta to vote today.
“I will do no such thing, all the zeal is lost and the entire system is a sham. INEC cannot be trusted and they seemed compromised. I have a feeling the election would have been fair and free if it had taken place last weekend, but those who postponed it had ulterior motive and there is no assurance that the entire process has not been compromised.
“So, I will not be traveling back to vote this weekend (today),” he emphasised.
Tolani Ogundipe and most of the people in the market where she trades had resolved to vote, despites the shift and the factors that contributed to it.
“We will vote, we have to vote, there are no two-ways about it, not if we want to better posterity. We have to keep doing everything possible to better this country and if one of the resolutions to the numerous problems of this country is exhibiting my franchise, then we would place everything on hold, come rain or shine to vote for a better Nigeria.
“The other day, my 20-year-old 300-level-undergraduate son woke up one morning and said he needed money to travel to America and would do anything to put the money together. I was shocked because I didn’t understand where the desperation emanated from, but the young man kept giving a number of reasons for the sudden need to leave Nigeria. He doesn’t even want to wait one more year to graduate.
“I was worried because he seemed determined after most of his friends and course mates had left the country and according to him, they are thriving abroad. You know it took the intervention of my nephew who works in an oil company and is doing well here in Nigeria to convince him to at least wait to graduate.
“The truth is, I don’t want him to relocate to America; what kind of a life would he possibly have in another person’s country that would be compared to being at home? But you cannot blame these young ones; they no longer see a good future in Nigeria and are desperately leaving the country even for odd jobs abroad.
“So, if my vote would count and save my son the fear of not prospering in this country, then I would vote. Even if they postpone again, I would vote until they are tired of postponing,” she said.
‘If INEC Postpones Again, I Will Still Travel To Vote’
From Michael Egbejule, Benin City
In Edo State, some residents and political parties leaders, though disappointed by the shift in date, expressed willingness to come out today to vote their preferred candidates.
A former president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele, said: “If the one week postponement will guarantee us free, fair and credible elections, let us endeavour to sacrifice the day and the country will be good for it.”
Esele urged the electorate not to be demoralised by the postponement, but come out en masse and cast their votes today and in subsequent elections.
State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dan Orbih, also appealled to the electorate in the state to come out en masse and vote.
“A lot has been put together to organise this election and I urge voters to come out en masse to perform their civic responsibility by participating in the elections,” he said, expressing optimism that INEC would live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
A university lecturer, who simply gave his name as Monday, who travelled to his place of registration last Friday to participate in the polls, told The Guardian: “I will travel again on Friday (yesterday) and if INEC postpones again, I will travel again to ensure I vote and my vote must count.”
On his part, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, called on all eligible voters in the state to come out en mass and vote for candidates of their choice in the rescheduled elections.
The monarch advised the electorate to vote wisely and not to be discouraged by the postponement of last week’s election but should renew their hope and zeal to participate in the exercise, which is their civic responsibility.
He restated that the kingdom remains non-partisan; hence a level playing ground was provided for all politicians to campaign and canvass for vote irrespective of political parties.
Oba Ewuare II, however, prayed to God and the ancestors for peaceful, free and fair elections, while cautioning youths not to allow themselves to be used as thugs by politicians to disrupt the electoral process.
The monarch, in a statement in Benin, by his Chief Secretary, Desmond Agbama, stressed the need for security agencies to be neutral while providing security on election day and refrain from intimidation and harassment of voters, adding: “This critical moment in the nation’s political journey, the INEC must prove itself as an unbiased electoral umpire in the conduct of the elections.”
‘I Am Encouraging Everybody To Exercise Their Civic Duty’
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
The Plateau State governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Nura Tanko Waziri, stated: “Frequent postponements of elections will only discourage voters from keeping faith with the electoral process, thereby giving the bigger political parties more opportunities to rig elections at will, because when people do not turn out to vote, it means there is enough room for people to maneuver ballot papers.”
A restaurant owner in Jos, Mrs. Sarah Egwu, who hails from Benue State and has just returned to Jos from there, was prepared and ready to travel to her home state again to cast her vote for the candidates of her choice. “This is my country; I can’t run away from it. I will definitely gather money to travel back to cast my vote for the candidates I want to go and vote at home latest on Friday.
“But INEC must be prepared, so that the mistake it made will not repeat itself,” she said.
A printing press magnate in Jos, Mr. Stephen Akin Adetunji, said that he was ready to participate in today’s elections with all zeal and vigour, adding that if the elections were postponed 10 times, he would not be discouraged or deterred until he exercises his franchise.
Adetunji pointed out: “I am serious about the presidential election. I am not saying that others are not important, but I am more concerned about the centre, the Presidency. If you are not part of the election process, you don’t have any right to blame whatever comes out of it, but if you are part of it, you have every right to blame that government in the event of non-performance.
“So, I am encouraging everybody to exercise their civic duty by going to vote. Even if your candidate does not win, just accept, but you know at least you had tried your best.”
An electrician in Jos, Shedrack Mbanefo, said that in spite of the odds, he was undeterred to vote today. He said: “The only disappointment there is that my children and my wife have travelled because of last Saturday’s election that did not hold. Now, they are still at home. I am worried about them because of their school and other things.”
He said it is his social responsibility to choose the candidate of his choice, adding that if he had registered in his native Imo State, he would have remained back to vote in the elections.
Tarabans Undeterred By Election Shift, Vow To Come Out En-Masse Again
From Charles Akpeji, Jalingo
Despite the postponement, Tarabans were still willing to come out en-masse to perform their civic responsibility today. Majority of the electorate, who spoke to The Guardian, vowed not to be deterred by any circumstances from voting in the elections and beyond for their dreams to be realised.
Several voters, who defiled the hard whether and travelled several kilometres with the intention to vote, also expressed determinations to embark on the same trip for today’s exercise.
Ubandoma Sunday, who travelled several kilometres from Jalingo, the state capital, to Jebu village in Wukari Council, said he would still tread the same path to vote for his candidates today and on March 9. He said: “I personally decided to go down to my village during the voters card registration because it is more fun to perform such rights in the villages.”
The traveller-voters claimed they were not financially mobilised by any politicians and that their decision was based on the need to ensure growth and change. “We are all ready to make little sacrifices,” they said.
Mobilising eligible voters for these elections was not as cumbersome as envisaged, as clerics and traditional leaders also got involved, charging them to take the postponement in good faith.
State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Innocent Solomon, urged Nigerians to put aside the economic, emotional and physical consequences the shift has caused by “keeping hope alive until God’s will is fulfilled in our state and nation,” just as he called for “clean, fair, transparent and credible elections,” which must not be compromised.
Solomon admonished Nigerians to be steadfast, adding: “Let us hope that the postponement was done in good faith, with the view of ensuring the credibility of the process and the delivery of an acceptable polls that meet all international standards.
“I urge the electoral umpire and security operatives to be professional in discharging their responsibilities during and after the election and politicians to tread the right paths by sensitising their supporters on the need to eschew acts that would jeopardise the peace in the state and the country at large.”
Political parties, especially the two major ones- APC and PDP- left no stone unturned to ensure that their supporters did not go to bed ahead of today’s polling.
The leadership of the PDP in the state said the party was very ready for the elections and was working round the clock to ensure its supporters came out to exercise their franchise today, while their APC counterparts said the party has been in constant touch with the electorate, telling them not to be discourage by the postponement.
The state REC, Alhaji Baba Yusuf Abba, also called on the electorate to come out en-masse and cast their votes, assuring that INEC would not only provide a level playing field for all the candidates and political parties, but would also conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in the state.
Security operatives, who said they were well prepared for last Saturday’s elections, pledged to be professional in discharging their responsibilities, but warned politicians and their supporters to eschew acts capable of jeopardising the elections process, vowing to deal with offenders.
Meanwhile, the APC governorship candidate in the state, Senator Sani Abubakar Danladi, called on the electorate to come out and vote en masse today.
Danladi, in a statement, urged voters not to be discouraged by the earlier postponement of the elections, saying bad people are elected when good people refuse to vote.
“I am calling on every eligible voter in the state not to be discouraged by the sudden postponement last week, as the process of building a better Nigeria is a tasking one. We must carry the same level of determination, motivation and enthusiasm we had before the postponement, because we want the right things to be done in Nigeria.”
He stated that youths in the state had been sensitised and mobilised to shun apathy and have faith in the electoral process, in spite of the resentment that greeted the postponement, adding: “Don’t fight, cast your vote and peacefully return home. Even in the face of provocation, ensure the election is violence-free for the sake of democracy and nation building.”
Mixed Impacts Of Postponement On Today’s Exercise
From Akin Alofetekun, Minna
Usman Mohammed, a water vendor, said nothing would make him embark on the kind of fruitless journey he made to his Bangi village in Niger State, about five hour journey from Minna, his base, last week for the sake of voting.
Eric (surname withheld), who sells electrical parts in Minna, travelled by bus to Enugu State on the night of February 14, only to be confronted by the news of the postponement some hours after reaching home. Like Usman, Eric said he could not afford to “waste another money again.”
Sources close to the Voters Education Programme of the INEC office in Minna disclosed that the office had been encouraging voters not to be disillusioned, but come out in large numbers to perform their civic responsibility today.
“We have spoken to the stakeholders and they have promised to educate the people on why they must vote today,” an officer in the office, who craved anonymity, stated.
Ijeoma Innocent of the Centre for Voter Education and Strategy, who arrived Minna two days before the botched elections, said the money she and her colleagues spent on hotel accommodation notwithstanding, they would still be in the state capital to observe the rescheduled elections.
Stakeholders In Imo Mobilise For Rescheduled Polls
From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
In the face of last week’s postponement, all the critical stakeholders involved in ensuring the success of the exercise went to all parts of Imo State to encourage voters to turn up for today’s elections.
The stakeholders, including INEC, accredited monitors/observer groups, civil society organisations, political parties and registered voters have been about town, mobilising initially disappointed voters for the elections.
While some of those who came into the state late last week to cast their votes expressed open disenchantment and returned to their bases almost immediately, others stayed back to exercise their civic responsibility.
Governor Rochas Okorocha has charged the people to have confidence in INEC and come out today to vote.
The Programme Director of Development Dynamics (DD), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) involved in observing the polls, Dr. Jude Ohanele, appealled to voters to exercise the important task of electing their leaders through “committed, free, fair, credible and transparent process.”
He said: “We owe it as a duty to come out to cast our votes, despite what happened. This is a critical duty for us to enthrone credible persons at electoral political offices.”
In the same vein, a public analyst and former Imo and Anambra states Director of the defunct Mass Mobilisation, Social and Economic Reconstruction (MAMSER), Dr. Chuks Osuji, noted: “Eligible voters should still present themselves to exercise their franchise.”
A university teacher of Mass Communication, Prof. Emma Onwums Onwuamalam, who travelled to his village in Ehime Mbano to cast his vote last Saturday, urged the people not to be deterred by the postponement, just as he appealled to INEC to be unbiased.
The Bishop of Owerri Diocese of the Anglican Church, Most Rev. Chukwuma Oparah, appealled to all the eligible voters to come out to cast their votes, despite the initial hiccup, while the traditional ruler of Umuoma autonomous community in Nekede, Owerri West Council, Eze Maurice Eke, urged patient on the part of the voters.
Following the shift, some voters expressed discordant tunes. While some said they would vote today, others accused politicians of usually “writing results unreflective of what the voters want,” saying there was no need going out to vote.
For a voter, who identified himself simply as Okechukwu: “I will still go out and vote for candidates of my choice. But Nigerians should be reassured of the credibility of the polls.”
Yobe Electorate Ready For Elections
Some residents of Damaturu, while expressing preparedness to participate in the rescheduled elections, said they had overcome the shock of Saturday’s postponement, adding that they were now prepared for the rescheduled elections.
A civil servant, Alhaji Musa Gashua, who travelled along with his family to cast their votes in Gashua, but had to return to Damaturu following the postponement, said: “The family is fully prepared again for the election, we are not deterred, we are travelling back to Gashua this weekend for the elections.”
Bukar Modu, though not discouraged by the postponement, said: “It is not about me alone, but we are mobilising our people at Kukareta village to vote in the election.”
He said many voters had appealed to the state government to pay their February salaries to enable them fuel their vehicles to transport them to their villages.
Another voter, Alhaji Babagana Mohammed, disclosed that the electorates were willing to spend their salaries to fuel their cars or board commercial vehicles to convey them to their villages to elect leaders of their choice, expressing optimism that their votes would count.
Cross River Residents Anxious To Vote Today
From Anietie Akpan and Tina Todo, Calabar
Residents of Calabar, the Cross River State capital, were still anxious to vote today, despite the sudden early postponement of the elections last Saturday.
One of them said even though they see the exercise as painful and double expenditure, “we have no option. Nigeria has hardly done things right; it is always a fire brigade thing all the time and we know it. Only God’s intervention would solve all these problems.”
Richard Ndoma, who travelled from Calabar to Ikom, covering a distance of about 300 kilometres, said: “That withstanding, I won’t be discouraged, because if I refuse to go back and perform what I think is my duty as a Nigerian, I will not feel good and fulfilled.
“I am still travelling to cast my vote, no matter what and I think any serious-minded Nigerian that has this country at heart will not because of the postponement or what he or she have lost decide to stay back. It is our responsibility to vote and that is what I am going to do. We have to go back to the drawing board and do what is required of us.”
A civil servant from Boki, married to an Igbo man living in Calabar with her family, but registered to vote in her hometown, Mrs. Gloria Anyafulu, said: “I travelled to the village last week just to go and vote. I really wanted to vote, but as it is, I won’t go back again. All the time wasted and resources cannot be accountable for. Why did they have to decide this when most people were already in their hometowns just to vote?”
Another respondent, Michael Effiong, said: “I do not have the enthusiasm to come out and vote, because what I have seen is just manipulation by a few in the system and Nigerians are watching. How I am sure my life will not be at risk when soldiers and thugs shoot over ballot box? I will just sit and watch because my capital is gone and what is the excitement to go out and vote?
“We need a total clean up of the system. If we make political offices less attractive, financially, this entire hullabaloo about rigging elections or corruption will stop.”
Former Senate Leader and APC senatorial candidate for Cross River Central, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, called on his supporters to remain patient and committed.
While envisaging voter apathy and reluctance because people had mobilised last week for the polls, added: “We have been working very hard to ensure that people still come out and vote.”
Director General of John Owan-Enoh Campaign Organisation, Maurice Effiwatt, counselled Nigerians to remain calm and come out to vote today.
Abians Willing To Vote Despite Some Apprehension
From Gordi Udeajah, Umuahia
Despite some apprehension resulting from comments suggesting that today’s polls might be violent in some parts of the state, voters in Abia State were still poise to exercise their franchise.
On daily basis, there have been increased vehicular and human movements into the state, suggesting that more people are coming to in vote.
Mr. Ken Kalu, a politician, and Mrs. Violet Ugo, a teacher, told The Guardian, separately, that no matter how bad an elected government is, it is better than any military one: hence they urged eligible voters to disregard any fears of possible violence and go to their designated polling units to cast their votes and retire to their homes and businesses, as directed by INEC and the law.
Acho John is in a dilemma. He lives and works in Kano, but registered to vote in Umuahia during when he came to bury his father. He had taken his annual leave to enable him partake in all the elections. But the shift in dates has altered all his plans, as he was not sure of getting a leave extension.
A blogger, Mrs. Steph Ugele, charged the electorate to come out within the specified time for accreditation and voting, adding: “Overall, I expect a credible process where the security operatives will be on top of the situation. They should not show favoritism to any political party. INEC officials should make the process free and free from suspicion.”
Kogi Electorate Determined To Vote
From John Akubo, Lokoja
Most residents and voters in Kogi State have expressed determination to come out en masse today to exercise their franchise, in spite of the fatigue and loses they suffered in last Saturday’s botched exercise.
Those who spoke to The Guardian do not mind making the sacrifice, even if it means going to borrow money to travel back to their villages to vote.
Some corps members/ad-hoc staff for the polls said despite the conditions they were subjected to last week, they would still go out for the exercise today for the sake of their fatherland.
A resident of Lokoja, Sunday Orebiyi, who travelled home to Okunland for last Saturday’s polls, was ready to withdraw his last saving to enable him travel again, saying the election is too important to him.
Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Idris Miliki Abdul, and
Owonikpa Gift said the price for sustaining our democracy is high and urged voters to turn out today to vote for their candidates.
“We encourage the electorate not to engage in voter aparty or shy away from the election; it is their civic duty and a responsibility they must perform. If they don’t vote and there are bad leaders, it would be their own making,” Owonikpa stated.
Rivers Residents Willing To Vote
From Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
In Rivers State, quite a number of residents of the state capital travelled home to exercise their franchise today, buoyed by some local government chairmen who offered free buses to help convey them, with the PVC serving as a ticket.
Some residents said the sudden shift of the last date of the polls was enough tonic for them to go and vote a leader of their choice today and on March 9.
Medical expert and political analyst, Dr. Appolous Josiah, who travelled last Saturday to his Andoni Council to vote, said he was not deterred by the postponement, stressing that he was very determined to match his words with actions by voting a leader of his choice.
“Last week, I travelled with my sister alone, but this time around, I will be travelling with the whole family. If they want us to be discouraged so that they can achieve their goal, we are very determined to vote.
“There is no going back, I and my family will go and vote; we need to go and actualise what we have been posting on social media. In fact, that postponement gave those of us who were unable to travel last time the opportunity to do so now and vote.
“The trip is costly, but it is better to pay the price now than to endure pains and hardship for another four years.”
Another resident, Michael Dibia, said he was motivated to still come out today to vote by the pains and sufferings Nigerians have been subjected to, adding that sitting down to criticise or condemn a government would not yield any result; hence his determination to vote.
It was gathered that some voters who returned from foreign countries just to exercise their franchise stayed back after the postponement just to cast their votes today, with most of them saying the polls are very critical to them, as they would determine whether Nigeria advances or not.
‘Nigerians Should Come Out And Vote, Despite Earlier Hitches’
From Osiberoha Osibe, Awka
A university teacher based abroad, Dr. Emmanuel Obiano, who returned to the country to vote in the postponed elections, but has stayed put for today’s polls, told The Guardian in Awka, the Anambra State capital that his motivation goes beyond civic responsibility.
Obiano explained: “I am eager to vote because voting is a civic responsibility and I am duty-bound to exercise that responsibility.
“That INEC postponed elections does not mean that one should stay away from exercising one’s civic responsibility, which is a process and there is an opportunity to exercise it, that is a responsibility on its own.
“I advise Nigerians to come out and vote, notwithstanding the earlier hitches.”
He added: “It has been reported that voter turnout has been low and as a political scientist, I want that narrative not to recur and to become a thing of the past.”
Eloka Okafor of Community Empowerment Network told The Guardian that his organisation had sensitised the rural populace on the need to come out and vote in the rescheduled elections.
Okafor said: “We have held series of voter education telling people, including those that returned, on the need to remain or go back and return for the rescheduled elections, so that they would be in a position to determine who leads them and on whom they are going to place their destiny on their hand.”
Benue Voters Return Home To Vote Today
From Joseph Wantu, Makurdi
The electorate from Benue State had trooped home in readiness for today, including those who travelled to their villages to cast their votes during the botched polls. They have indeed returned home to cast their votes today.
A federal civil servant, John Kulamo, though lamented the earlier shift, urged Nigerians not to be deterred, but to go back to their polling units to cast their votes for candidates of their choice.
He noted: “For me, I am not deter by the cancellation; I am in my village to cast my vote.”
Mary Uloko, from Otukpo Council, said though she spent N5, 000 to travel from Makurdi to her village and back to Makurdi without fulfilling her desire to vote last Saturday, she was in the village to vote for her candidates today, believing that the people would reap the dividends of democracy and she would secure a job.
Ochirigogo Otegwu headed back to his Igede village to cast his votes, despite all odds, with the hope that the elections would not be shifted again.
President of Tiv Youths Council, Mike Msuaan, called on the electorate to vote their candidates today, just as Bemgba Iortyom charged Nigerians to give INEC benefits of the doubt, despite all odds and turn out to cast their votes and protect same.
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