“You Appointed the Best Man To Head NBET”, Obiano Tells Buhari

Governor Willie Obiano has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa the chief executive of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc (NBET), popularly known as the Bulk Trader.

“You couldn’t have appointed a more qualified, competent and reform-minded technocrat for the job”, Governor Obiano said in the letter to Buhari, according to a statement in Awka today by the the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba.

The Minister of Power, Engineer Saleh Mamman, announced two weeks ago President Buhari’s approval of Dr Ewelukwa as replacement for Dr Marylyn Amobi, also from Anambra State, whose five year tenure will end on July 24.

“It is self-evident that the president recognizes the critical role of the NBET in the electricity value chain in Nigeria and so went for the best to help move the entire power sector in a different direction”, Chief Obiano declared.

Dr Ewelukwa, the NBET general counsel until his appointment, has been involved in Nigeria’s power sector reform for at least 10 years, having worked at the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), headed by Professor Bart Nnaji before he was appointed the Minister of Power in July, 2011, and led the greatest revamping of Nigeria’s perennially problematic power sector.

As the pioneer NBET general counsel and secretary, he led the team which negotiated with independent power producers on power purchase agreements (PPAs) and thus enabled huge investments from the private sector into Nigeria’s electricity generation business.

Governor Obiano observed that the new NBET CEO played a key role on the team which identified serious legal, regulatory and policy constraints to the development of Nigeria’s electricity and suggested ways to overcome the challenges.

“Due to the exceedingly impressive work done by such outstanding technocrats as Professor Nnaji and Dr Ewelukwa, the British and American governments, among others, assisted Nigeria to develop the critical power infrastructure”, noted the governor who also recalled how such global firms as General Electric of the United States, Siemens of Germany and Daewoo Heavy Industries of South Korea took an unprecedented interest in the country’s power sector.

Chief Obiano described Ewelukwa as “infectiously humble and principled, a team player and farsighted leader with a good international exposure, key leadership requirements in today’s globalized world”.

The governor said he is confident that Dr Ewelukwa would bring glory to Nigeria the way a number of Anambra indigenes given critical national assignments discharged their duties.

“The whole nation”, he stated, “remembers with nostalgia the fantastic work done since the restoration of democracy by such sons and daughters of Anambra State like Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo as the Central Bank governor, Professor Dora Akunyili as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) Director General; Engineer Ernest Ndukwe as the CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mrs Oby Ezekwesili as head of the Due Process Office before becoming the Minister of Solid Minerals and later Minister of Education; as well as Engineer Emeka Eze as the Bureau for Public Procurement Director General”. 

Son of a leading academic lawyer, Ewelukwa studied law at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, before proceeding to the London School of Economics to specialize in international business law and Queen Mary College of the University of London where he took a doctoral degree in privatization of state-owned enterprises and reform of the Nigerian power sector.

Author of three authoritative books on electricity transactions, the new NBET CEO is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

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Reps Urge FG To Return SON, NAFDAC To Ports

The House of Representatives have called on the Federal Government to reconsider its earlier decision barring the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from operating at the nation’s seaports.

The lower chamber maintained that the two key agencies are needed at the seaports and borders to fight the influx of sub-standard and life-endangering goods into the country, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adopting a motion under “Matters of urgent public importance”, raised at the plenary session, the House stated that allowing SON and NAFDAC back to the ports will represent part of the strategies to effectively check the influx of sub-standard goods into the country.

The House has mandated its committee on finance to meet and liaise with the Minister of Finance on the urgent need for SON and NAFDAC to return to the ports and borders.

The motion was moved by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, representing Anaocha South/Anaocha North/Oshimili South federal constituency of Delta State.

The House categorically stated that no other agency can carry out the statutory functions of SON and NAFDAC, maintaining that the functions of quality assurance cannot be inter-changed with any other sister agency.

There have been several appeals from the various sectors, operators and stakeholders on the need for the Federal Government to return SON in particular at the nation’s ports as a major move against the menace of sub-standard and counterfeited products across the country.

The Nation

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We Will Defend Our Youth Against Rape, Domestic Violence – Minister Declares 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has condemned the rise of rape and gender-based violence occurrences in the country and voiced his support for victims and survivors of the grievous crime. To this end, the Ministry today launched #NigerianYouthAgainstRape campaign.

“The Youth are the greatest victims of rape and we condemn this inhumane act in the strongest terms. We will join the vanguard against rape and ask for the stiffest penalty possible,” he said.

Mr Dare, who described rape as “a brutal crime that attacks the mind, body and soul,” said the act must not be allowed to take root in the Nigerian society. He said his Ministry would champion the fight against the dastardly act as prescribed in the National Youth Policy. 

“No Nigerian, whether male or female, should be discriminated against or made a victim anywhere in this country, ” he said. “We must unite to fight against rape in all forms.  All Nigerian Youth must take the responsibility to be on the lookout for their female counterparts and offer them protection. Stigmatising victims must be stopped and completely outlawed.

“I am totally against a mindset that first, makes women victims, and then moves on to compound their suffering by blaming the survivor for the evil that has been inflicted upon her. When people blame an individual for being raped, it discourages others from speaking out because each survivor and  their families are afraid that they will be blamed and labelled for what happened to them.”

The Minister thanked  President Buhari for his resolute stand against rape and joined him in this fight to protect young women from rape and physical assault. He also singled out the Minister for Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, for leading the charge. 

“We shall stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this struggle, ” he said. 

The Minister also called on the Nigeria Police Force to review their methods of investigating cases of gender-based violence and rape with the objective of solving them with minimal pain to the survivors. He challenged civil organisations to deploy the use of technology to support their work against the social menace. He also encouraged policymakers to be fearless and make laws that will deter future offenders.

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Post-Covid Economy: Buhari Government Thinking In The Right Direction – GEPIn

The Economic Sustainability Plan put up by a Committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which was submitted to President Buhari last Thursday has received commendation from the Global Economic Policy Initiative (GEPIn).

It described the plan as “well-hatched” and “timely,” especially given the current fears over Nigeria’s economic prospects post-COVID.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Bernard Okri, stated that there were genuine fears and concerns how Nigeria’s economy would fare in a post-COVID world, but that the proposal submitted to the President by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had assuaged most of these fears.

“The dedication of the Committee, led by Professor Osinbajo is commendable – more commendable is that their submissions came in at the right time. Nigerians across the country are genuinely worried and concerned about the economic climate post-COVID 19. This document has assured many, if not most of us that the government has a good plan, one in the right direction in fact.

The group noted that the Committee was a robust and inclusive one and thus was able to produce an all encompassing document.

“This document is an assurance to Nigerians that they have nothing to worry about. It assures of growth and a resilient economy despite the pandemic. 

“The philosophy behind the document is that Nigeria consumes what it produces – this is something we as a group have constantly stressed for years. 

“This ultimately means improving and funding our local industries to meet the country’s production deficit in critical sectors. This the document proposes, as well as boosting our manufacturing capacity – an endeavour we should long have embarked on when the country was earning its most under previous administrations. 

“Pumping more money into agriculture and infrastructure is proposed, so as ti act as conduits to funnel funds into the economy. This is a very welcome proposal. As the country fears a recession, the fundamental way out is to put in more funds into critical sectors that would serve as boosters to other dependent sectors.”

The group stated that the proposal targets 10s of millions of Nigerians and its implementation would be critical if the country’s economy must survive post-COVID-19. 

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Mandate Guard Sends Birthday Wishes to Ramatu Aliyu At 50

A group, Mandate Guards Initiative, on Friday congratulated Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, Honourable Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory as she clocks 50.

In a press release signed by the Convener, Comrade Obinna Ogwuegbu, he acknowledged the Minister for her role in uplifting the common man.

The statement reads:

“Mandateguards Initiative wishes its founding Member and one of its pillars, Dr RAMATU TIJJANI ALIYU, the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory a happy 50th Birthday celebration.

“Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu has been a consistent change agent and deploys same zeal, commitment and passion in all she does towards positively uplifting the common man. She is an unrepentant women and children activist. Her commitment to effect change has been her guiding principle as the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory.

“As she clocks the golden age of 50 today Friday, June 12,2020, a day that we remember as Democracy day and a day marked against Child Labour, We at Mandateguard Initiative do pray the Almighty God to continue to guide, strengthen and direct her as she continously strives to bring succor to the down trodden.

“Congratulations!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY.”

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Personnel Welfare Receives Boost As NAF Commissions Additional Blocks Of Residential Accommodation For Officers In Lagos

The drive of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) towards ensuring that its personnel have befitting residential accommodation has received a fresh boost with the commissioning of 2 newly constructed blocks of 6 x 3 bedroom flats for married officers at the Sam Ethnan Air Force Base Ikeja, Lagos today, 28 May 2020.

Speaking during the commissioning, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command (AOC LC), Air Vice Marshal Lawal Alao, noted that the commissioning of the project was a testimony to his resolve to improve the welfare of NAF personnel, being a major requirement in the development of human capacity for enhanced operational performance.

He noted that, while the NAF was being restructured for more effective and efficient service delivery in the last 4 and half years, several infrastructural developments aimed at improving both the working and living conditions of personnel were also embarked upon. The infrastructural developments, the CAS added, included the construction of new offices and living accommodations across all NAF Bases in the Country, to provide conducive atmosphere for optimum operational output.

Speaking further, the CAS noted that the infrastructural development was a major moraleboosting factor for some of the modest operational achievements recorded so far. “In the last four and half years, while working to address the housing deficit for personnel, we have provided befitting accommodation for about 7,500 families. We remain resolute to do more”, he said.

The CAS commended the Logistics Command (LC) for providing the necessary support that had enabled the Service to be more efficient in the conduct of its operations across various theatres. He pledged that the Headquarters would continue to provide the necessary resources to enablethe Command to continue playing its vital role in supporting NAF operations. The CAS equally lauded the measures emplaced by the Command to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and describbed the communal approach to tackling the virus with the introduction of COVID-19 Enlightenment and Enforcement Team made up of youth volunteers within the Base, as most impressive.

He highlighted that Headquarters NAF, in compliance with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines, had directed the scaling down of the number of personnel for official work to the barest minimum to limit the likelihood of contact. He also reminded personnel to continue to maintain personal hygiene, whilst observing physical distancing.

The newly constructed blocks of buildings which are built with a touch of class – with all bedrooms en suite, was executed by TILT Construction Limited, a wholly-Nigerian owned Civil and Structural Engineering Construction company serving as a trusted infrastructure partner to organisations in the private and public sector.

Managing Director of TILT Construction, Mr Jameel Olatunji stated that jobs were provided to no fewer than 50 skilled artisans and over 4000 man-hours of work were completed with no cases of accidents recorded. “This performance was not the result of chance; it was made possible through our continuous commitment to safety and efficiency” he said.

Among project completed by the company include Construction of Residential Development for the Federal Capital Development Authority, Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, Nigeria Immigration Service, amongst others.

In his closing remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, ably represented by Air Vice Marshal Lawal Alao thanked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the resources being expended to improve personnel welfare, and enjoined personnel to take responsibility for the proper maintenance of all infrastructures on all NAF Bases, whilst remaining committed to the effective execution of assigned tasks.

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Nigerian Professionals: Ambassadorial Nominees Are Thoroughbred Diplomats, Would Serve Nigeria’s Best Interest

Described as: “Round peg in round hole, truly deserving.”

A group of professionals in Nigeria, under the aegis of Young Nigerian Professionals have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the nomination of 42 thoroughbred career diplomats as Ambassadors-designate, describing them as “round pegs, fit in round holes,” and “truly deserving.”

The forum in a statement signed by its Chairman, Charles Folayan said they were elated by the choice of these nominees, some of whom they had interacted with, at Nigerian Missions abroad and found to be diligent, hard working and patriotic.

According to Folayan, the forum is confident of the prospective Ambassadors’ capacities to deliver on President Buhari’s policies at the global arena whenever they are posted after clearance by the Senate.

“We can affirm that this list was carefully put together by the President in line with his foreign policy objectives. The nominees are seasoned diplomats, who have served in various countries with distinction; they are good men and women with the highest sense of commitment and responsibility. Wherever they have served, they were the darling of the Nigerian communities and their host officials.” Charles noted.

“Of particular interest is I. A. Yusuf, a nominee from Kogi State with whom the forum had interacted at more than one Nigerian Mission abroad. We know him for his exemplary character, integrity and his positive disposition towards Nigerians in his host countries, especially the students and professionals. He offers help with ease, to anyone who demands help.

“In all our encounters, we noted that when Yusuf gives his word, he keeps it; he has an unflinching penchant for timeliness; and importantly he demands diligence and love for Nigeria from associates and those he works with, that whatever is to be done must be done in the national interest and must be done right.

“We believe that the Ambassadors-designate will bring to Nigeria, the benefits of their abundant network of relationships across the world.”

The statement went ahead to encourage the Ambassadorial nominees to remain steadfast to the values that saw them rise to where they are.

The forum asked them to keep their eyes on the ball in order to justify the confidence reposed on them by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Post-COVID-19: What President Buhari Is Doing, And Will Do, By Presidency

There is global anxiety on what the future holds for humanity post-COVID-19, particularly in respect of the economy, healthcare, job security, and general wellbeing.

Naturally, Nigerians are not immune from the disquietude, as they belong to the global community.

Below is a checklist of some measures that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken, and will further take, to make life abundant for Nigerians. This should assuage some apprehensions:

Ø An economic team, headed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been set up to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Ø Economic Sustainability Committee headed by the Vice President to define a post-COVID-19 economy for Nigeria.

Ø Task force set up on free movement of farm produce headed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ø Plans afoot to tackle weak health systems and infrastructure through establishment of standard laboratories, intensive care units, and isolation centres in all states of the Federation. The health infrastructure will eventually be recalibrated for the good of the people, and in readiness for future emergencies.

Ø As long term measure, emphasis will be placed on integrating local content in proven researches in cure, and production of materials in the heath sector.

Ø A Fiscal Sustainability Plan to complement the suite of monetary and banking interventions recently announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ø A mass agricultural programme to be put in place.

Ø Major rural road construction programme.

Ø Mass housing programme.

Ø Large scale installation of residential solar systems, utilizing mainly local materials.

Ø Expansion of the Social Investment Programme.

Ø The 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Budget 2020 assumptions and targets have already been revised.

Ø Time-sensitive expenditures are to be prioritized over less critical spending.

Ø Extant financial controls are to be strengthened to detect, eliminate and sanction instances of waste, funds misappropriation and corruption.

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media and Publicity)

May 14, 2020

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Muslim Coalition Against Covid-19 Distributes Relief Materials To Rivers Residents

A group, Muslim Coalition Against Covid-19, has donated food items and other relief materials to a total of 315 residents of Rivers State to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

In a chat with Alhaji Moshood Abiola, Chairman of Publicity Committee for the group, he said the donation follows the stay-at-home order of the state government following the coronavirus pandemic.

According to him, the group knows the pains people are passing through at this moment, and deemed it necessary to support indigent families, Muslim faithful, Christian faithful, widows, disabled, Corp members and aged.

He added that the group has also distributed relief materials to residents in Lagos, Osun, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory, and was able to deploy volunteers to help in the distribution of food items to beneficiaries.

“We are doing this to bring joy and make life meaningful for everyone irrespective of religion and class in the society as many of them have been at home without food,” he said.

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APYF Congratulates New Chief Of Staff To The President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari

The national body of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his choice of the renowned diplomat and academic, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari as the new Chief of Staff.

In a statement released in Abuja, the Forum notes that the rich pedigree and credentials of Professor Gambari testified to the thoroughness of Mr. President in carefully selecting those who will support him in his consistent effort to deliver good governance to the Nigerian people.

“We as a front line youth group have always championed a mix of the wisdom of elders with the energy and idealism of the young as a precursor to our growth and development as a country. The appointment of the elder statesman to such a position at this trying moment in the history of our country clearly supports our position. We therefore congratulate Mr. President on this choice,” a part of the statement read.

While congratulating the new appointee, APYF said it has the unwavering belief in the capacity of Prof Gambari to discharge the responsibilities of his new office in a most spectacular manner.

The forum therefore wishes the Chief of Staff a rewarding time in the service of the President and the Nigerian nation; while pledging the support of progressive youths across the country towards ensuring his success in this new assignment.

Signed:

Alwan Hassan
National Field Director, APYF

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Nigeria And Nigerians Will Come Out Of Covid-19 Pandemic Stronger – Osinbajo

“We will get through this much stronger economically and much stronger as a people because of our resilience. There are a lot of challenges but they offer significant opportunities for us to turn things around.”

Those were the words of assurance from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to Nigerians during his interaction today at the 2020 edition of ‘The Platform’ themed “Nigeria’s battle against COVID-19”.
 
According to him. “I am very confident that Nigerians, with our resilience, our strength and our innovation, we will go through this in great shape.”

The Platform is an annual discussion programme of the Covenant Christian Centre that features discussions around the state of the Nigerian nation and its development. The May 2020 edition featured virtual participants without a life audience as a result of the global pandemic.  

The Vice President then laid out some of the Federal Government’s efforts to address the economic fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking specifically about how the country can transform the challenges caused by the pandemic into opportunities for economic diversification and job creation, the Vice President said prioritizing use of local resources and creating local jobs in the construction and allied industry, amongst other things, will be critical in sustaining the economy in the post COVID-19 era.
 
He said: “We have to prioritize the use of local resources in all public works. In road construction for instance, it is cheaper to build concrete roads using limestone than spending resources on the importation of bitumen. We have limestone in abundance hence we should be looking in that direction. The road from the Apapa port to the Lagos –Ibadan expressway is being built with cement and is of high quality.
 
“In the housing sector where we have a huge deficit, we need to focus on using local resources to build houses and in the process we will be creating opportunities for young engineers, architects and builders etc.”
 
In the area of agriculture, the Vice President said government’s initial policies have saved the country from the huge forex burden of food imports and related activities.
 
“We think that by ramping up agriculture, especially small holder agriculture and improving the value chain, especially in storage and processing facilities, more jobs will be created for many young people.
 
“We have found ourselves in a situation where we realize that the way to go is to support the creation of the jobs in agriculture and reduce food imports and ultimately address the issue of unemployment and food shortages.
 
“What we must do as much as we can is to change the narrative about Nigeria and provide more jobs.”
 
Still on mitigating the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic such as inflation, the Vice President said government would focus on improving productivity and improving food stock across the country.
 
According to him, “if you can ramp up food production and the logistics of bringing food to the urban centres, inflation will be controlled to a large extent.”
 
He added that boosting agricultural production for export purposes and supporting the mining sector will bolster the country’s foreign exchange earnings and reserves.     
 
Other contributors to discussions at the virtual summit include the Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State. The Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Dr. Chike Ihekweazu also spoke at the interaction which included interviews, panel discussion and speeches. The event was moderated by Pastor Poju Oyemade, the Convener of The Platform.
 
 
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
2nd May 2020

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3,195 Enrolled As Kwara’s Digital Training Programme Begins

At least 3,195 young people have been enrolled in the first phase of Kwara’s virtual digital training class which began on Thursday — 1,195 more than the initial figure (2000) intended for the exercise when it was announced.

The 3,195, who responded to the pre-training survey, were shortlisted from a total of 6,766 who originally applied for the virtual training.

The training, a component of the Kwara State Social Investment Programme, is being conducted in partnership with Grow with Google and Wootlab Foundation and is free for the enrollees and the state government.

“Of the 3,195, 1,763 have been inducted into the first cohort and the class began on Thursday and would run for the next two weeks. The second cohort comprises 1,432 whose class begins on May 18,” according to a statement by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor Rafiu Ajakaye.

“Each cohort runs for two weeks. The programme covers the following courses: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing (Accredited certification by Grow with Google), Applied Digital tools and G Suites (certified by Grow with Google), Social Media Marketing, Graphic Design, Business Branding and Presentation to Impress.”

The plan was to train 2,000, but the organisers had to increase capacity and resources due to overwhelming interest from the youth, the statement added.

Ogunniyi Tomilola Oyebola, a baker who is attending the class, said she applied for the programme to “acquire digital skills that will help me to be relevant in this 21st century and prepare for employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in my baking business.”

Kasali Olawale Taofiq, another successful applicant who is into security engineering, said he applied to “upscale my knowledge in digital literacy so as to apply it in my line of business.”

Fadiji Aminat Wuraola, a teacher, said she opted in to up her digital skills.

Chioma Okoro, Chief Operating Officer at Wootlab, said the response to the programme underlined young people’s thirst for digital knowledge.

“We were overwhelmed at the number of applications that came in, especially on the 1st and 2nd day. However, we expected a 50% response rate to the pre-programme survey that was sent to the applicants,” she said.

“We wanted participants that are willing to learn and improve themselves and the survey proved just that. We expect the participants to be better versions of themselves at the end of the programme.”

Muhammad Brimah, Anchor of KWASSIP, said the response of the applicants was impressive and encouraging.

He added: “It was quite impressive when we realised the massive response of applicants accross the State. There has always been a thirst for knowledge in Kwara and it has been proven yet again. All our youths need is the opportunity. There is no better time than now, considering what the world will be post-COVID-19. Remote workers would be in high demand and it is good we are getting our youths prepared for the coming opportunities.”

Rafiu Ajakaye
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
May 1, 2020.

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