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Exclusive! ‘Why Gov Makinde Sees Me As His Enemy’  -Femi Babalola ‘Jogor’

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Femi Babalola is a seasoned politician and the owner of Jogor Centre, Ibadan. In this chat with Ayotunde Ayanda he talked about his life at 60 and the issues he is having with the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde
 
 
You will be 60 in October, do you feel 60?
I actually don’t know how 60 feel, I’ve never been there before. But if you ask me if I feel the way I felt 40 years ago, I will say no. If you ask me if I feel the way I felt 10 years ago, I will say yes. Definitely I feel that in terms of wisdom, in terms of energy, I’ve definitely seen changes. In terms of perception of life, I’ve seen changes, in terms of my attitude to issues around me, things have changed. so, if that is a way of feeling 60, yes.
Is there any lesson life has taught you at 60?
I particularly don’t have any singular life experience. A lesson my mother told me when I was around 9 had continued to be very relevant in my life and I found out that it applies to everything that I’ve done. What is this story? There was a day I was supposed to go out with my friends and it was a real battle between my mother and I, that I should not go. Eventually my mother sat me down and she said one thing and since then the lesson stuck and its been my guiding principle of life. My mother said the people I thought were my friends may not be my friends. You will be shocked that when I put it to practical life, when I was in the university, it shocked me when I confirmed what my mum said. That was about 15 years after. My mother said in a class of 10 students the teacher asked every student to stand up and the teacher asked them all to bring out a small piece of paper and pencil, that they should write the name of their best friend in the class, at the end of the day the teacher found out that no two persons write their names. If you write my name as your best friend, I didn’t write your name as my best friend, the person I wrote as my best friend, wrote another person. That lesson taught me life, you don’t know where you are with anybody and you don’t know where they are with you. God has given us the power to influence so many things. You may think that situation will favour you, but there are people behind you that will not make that situation favour you and this maybe somebody you felt you’ve given your life to. The lesson there is that you should just put all your hopes in God and build everything around yourself. That has been my guiding principle. I should be honest with you, in ten out of ten episodes I’ve had in life, its always been round that. It’s always been someone you trusted, someone you thought was watching your back, it’s a lesson I’ve told my children individually and collectively and its the only thing that guides me.
Despite having this life lesson at an early stage, one wouldn’t have expected you to go into politics.
There are some things in life that you are all destined to be. God created all of us and at the time of creation God has put some talents in   us, and he had also put interests. Mind you, interest is different from talent. To some of us he had put passion. I cannot really explain why I got interested in politics. My father I think to some extent was very current in politics, he was a civil servant and was always discussing politics, I don’t know if that influenced me. Right from my secondary school days I’ve been involved in some secondary school politics which was more of associations and president of societies, secretary of a society and by the time I got into the university i joined NPN Youth Wing in 1979, I was very active and by the time i got to the university I didn’t have a choice, I was very active. I was secretary of my hall, Sultan Bello in a particular year and I was going for a second term but I discovered that I was an engineering student and i needed time and I was at that time the chairman of the Engineering Student Society of UI which I was for three years and once you are the chairman of an association you will be part of the school politics because whoever that want to contest election at the school level and needed to talk to engineering students must necessarily come through you, and whoever wants to talk to Sultan Bello student must come through me being the secretary, so I had double influence. I was influential at the faculty level and I was also influential at the dormitory level. I played politics like that and it went on and on until 1991, I left university in 1986 and in 1991 when government lifted embargo on  politics again, by providence I found that I was sitting directly in front of Engineer Gbadamosi who eventually became the Deputy Governor of Kolapo Isola. By the way he wanted to be the governor, I was more of his advisor, he used to call me a politician, he called me a political engineer. So it was just natural when he made up his mind to contest that I must be his advisor. We got on well and did everything together, in fact I can conveniently say I was one of the people that advised him to go for Deputy-Governorship. When he didn’t get the ticket, he didn’t want to contest again, I was like if they offer you this thing, take it. He brought me into his government, throughout his 11 months I was everywhere with him, unfortunately that tenure was truncated. When politics started in 1998 I didn’t have a choice i pitched my tent with PDP, i can say conveniently that Dare Adeleke and myself were the youngest member of PDP as at 1998 in Oyo State, we were the first to join, he joined before me, then I joined and we were the two young ones running around in PDP and it went on like that. Nobody dragged me into it, nobody influenced me and my own politics was not out of nothing to do, I’ve always been a busy man and its one of the reasons many people feel i should be a full time politician, but I love engineering and i want to play politics by the side, but unfortunately we are not getting the right people that play this politics, so it keeps bringing me out to want to influence and do other things. We need people that will influence policies. politics is not only about elections, there are people you want in political parties that could drag policies for government, there are people that will tell you how you need to implement the policies, there are people that can implement but cannot draw the policies, it cuts across but unfortunately people just see politicians as somebody that can contest elections and win and mess up the whole thing and that’s the issue we’ve been having.
A video went viral sometime ago at an event where Governor Seyi Makinde saw you and some others and made the statement ‘let me go and greet the rebels over there’, what made you a rebel?
It was at Akala’s house, it was when we lost him, very unfortunate incident and it was the next day after we lost him and we were all at Ogbomoso and the Governor came, Teslim Folarin and I have been friends for a long time, we met at the University and we’ve been friends forever and the Governor saw us and said ‘je ki n lo ki awon rebels’, yes! he in fact saw us as rebels because he sees us as his enemies and I am his enemy, I can’t deny that. As long as somebody will not live by agreement, he is my enemy.
But at a time you and the Governor were both on the same page, how did you fall out?
Let me tell you the truth, the Governor came to PDP I think in 2003, and then he went to another party, he came back and left again and he eventually came back in 2018 to join us before the election, I was opposed to his nomination as a matter of principle because I felt it was unfair to people that stood against the storm and made sure the party weathered the 8 years that we were out of government. People objected to it and felt I was wrong, but I’m happy today that all the people that felt I was wrong that time had come to apologize, they’ve now seen through what I said, all of them.
But What did you see that time?
I just felt it wasn’t right, there were people we’ve been struggling together for 6 years, somebody came suddenly and you all felt this is someone we should go behind maybe because of monetary gains or whatever was on their minds because I made it a duty to speak to virtually everybody one-on-one. But they all felt otherwise, including Mulika. She was the one that took Governor Makinde to Governor Wike and everything had fallen apart. There is a way relationships are built, it’s like a man wanting to marry another woman with children, you must play yourself into the hearts of the children. It’s the responsibility of the man or the woman to make sure that the children accept you, if they don’t accept you there will be problems. But this guys felt he was the person they want, just for whatever reasons. I wasn’t convinced for once, virtually all the meetings were held here at my pace at Jogor and I saw in between the lines that so many things were wrong, unfortunately this is democracy, its about numbers and I saw myself being alone against like 10 to 17 people. So I didn’t have a choice than to follow the queue in as much as I didn’t want to leave the party, I didn’t have a choice and i had to accept because he was chosen by the party. We all sat down, himself, myself, Adeseun and Azeem, we had meetings over three days. I saw between the lines that people had compromised, I was the first person to say ‘look Seyi, if you want to be the Governor, go ahead!’, he said it’s not about going ahead that we should all be on the same page, he pleaded that we should all make effort to win power first and later sit down and agree how we are going to run the government, and we agreed to move on.
I thought we all agreed on that, only for us to win the election and three months down the line we started seeing a different governor, but people that could sell their pride, people that felt it didn’t matter  went on with his government, they did and they all came back regretting.
But despite all these, he still won another term?
yes! An election goes beyond a disagreement between you and I. If I don’t like you based on principles, that does not mean that your friend does not like you, it does not mean that your wife does not like you or would not like to vote for you. They may not see what I’m seeing. I am close to you and I’ve seen your shortcomings and weaknesses, I may have that intelligence to see that this guy cannot do this thing. I’m convinced that he is not the best person, some other people will not be close to you to see your weaknesses, they will just go ahead. So, he won the election, there is a lot of coalition. The APC people, so many things happened, but the fact remains that God wanted him to win the election and he has won so we should just wait for the next four years.
There was a time you also nursed an ambition to become the Governor, if you have had your way, what do you think he was doing wrong which you could have done right?
The opportunity I had to speak with him, I told him he was on a wrong approach to governance. He had one weakness four years ago, he had never been close to governance, he was more of somebody in the oil industry that was probably dealing with the NNPC. State governance is quite different, you need to have a grasp of Local Government administration, grasp of the state and probably all the ministries. Not only that you must have gotten a lot of relationships and knowledge about civil servants. From the way the state ran, if you ask me as a person that I should rate the governor in the last four years, i will probably not rate him well, but the thing about life is that its governance and whether you like it or not you must spend the money that came to you, you must spend the money on some things, so the question now is, the things we spent the money on were they the things we needed to spend money on at that time? Are they sustainable? Do they have multiplier effects? Have they brought succor to our lives? Lets look at the environment, do we have a cleaner environment? No. Do we have better transportation system? I will say no. Do we have fantastic agricultural system? I will say no. Do we have better infrastructures? They would say we are doing this and that, but do they relate to what we are doing now? We have motor parks, but do we need them now? The Local Government has broken down and unfortunately for him, unlike Lagos state which they are all trying to copy, Lagos is different from Oyo, Ogun, Ondo models. These are states that if you joke with a local government you have joked with the entire state. I went somewhere this morning, the roads, the kind of gullies I saw there. If you look at Ring Road, to me that’s like the gateway to Ibadan, the median is perpetually bushy, there is always waste dumps there, of course somebody will cut the grass one day, then after two weeks the weed grows back again, then after five months somebody will come again and cut. Things must be sustainable, you see refuse dumps everywhere. In fact there is no GRA in Ibadan now, I passed through Iyaganku GRA and I saw refuse dumps, the state cannot come there and you’ve taken this responsibility away from the local government which is the closest to the people. If the Local Government were to be in charge of refuse collection and disposal, you can imagine somebody from Southwest must have walked round and would have seen it and must have called someone. Anytime anyone passes through that and see this, what’s their own? They will say its the duty of the state. I wonder how somebody in secretariat will touch everywhere, it’s unimaginable. This is not Lagos State and when they started using Lagos model for Oyo State I just laughed. In Lagos State, you can do that from Ikeja to Epe within one hour, you go from Epe to Ita-Okin, from Ita-Okin to Ikorodu, Ikorodu to Oshodi, Oshodi to Badagry, you can cover Lagos within four hours, you cant do that in Oyo State. So how does one person wants to control Local Governemnt roads, hospitals, PHC, its not possible. About a month ago I intentionally drove to the farm settlements because ive been hearing a lot. When i got there, its unfortunte, Im sad because he has good people around him that can help but there also people that tells him not to listen to them. We are seeing the results of that, like i earlier said thats the disadvantage of democracy because its about numbers.
Do you still nurse the ambition to govern Oyo State?
I am not happy with the position where Oyo State is, so I leave it open. I thought by now we would have learnt from five administrations. I thought by now that whoever will be in charge would be on auto-run because we’ve all learnt from what happened in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019. So I thought by now there should have been a model in place to do so many things. What’s the model to run education? What’s the model to run agriculture? By now people should have known there is no way to run refuse disposal in Oyo State without involving the Local Governments. I’m waiting for the person that will run it without the Local Governments and succeed.
In the last elections there was an unusual pattern. We witnessed members of PDP supporting APC, APC supporting PDP. How healthy is this for our democracy?
From a selfish point of view, it may not sound good, but when you don’t have a personal conviction which is a result of undemocratic process of the political parties which we call internal democracy because the candidates should actually emerge by a process that should be acceptable to every member of the party. The moment there are grievances and people are ready to express those grievances and put it into action, it may lead to such cases. It happened in APC and it happened in PDP and virtually all the parties. It is because we are not practicing democracy the way it should be done. We are practicing an alien system, until such a time that we improvise a political system that will allow majority participation in choice making of flag bearers of the party. We have a situation where there is lot of interference, the Governor will influence even down to who will be the supervisors in the Local Government, so people wont be naturally happy. So there are rooms for people to do things against their parties. When you look at advanced democracies too there are instances when members of one political party will vote against the policy of their party, they may not be convinced with it, it happens a lot in the US too.
In 2006, former Governor Rashidi Ladoja was impeached, your name came out as one of the financiers of the impeachment. Did you regret being a part of it?
No. I will tell you what happened. It’s going to be part of my memoir. By the way I was in PDP before Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, he came from ANPP, but this is a man I’ve always known. I grew up in College Crescent and one of the children has always been my junior brother very good friend. So, I’ve always known that house and I knew him as a politician, but when I was in PDP in 1998 he was in ANPP, but in 1991 I was in SDP with him and I’ve always marveled t his way of playing politics, he was someone I liked. So when he crossed over to PDP i think in 2000 or 2001, I was one of the first people to go and greet him and I thankfully became one of his favorites. I was so close to him. In 2003 i supported Dele Adigun for obvious reasons to be the Governorship candidate and Baba brought in Ladoja. Ladoja was not part of us initially. We were going to win that primary election, we did our work and Baba knew something was going wrong, so he called me and Baba Nureni that he wanted us to leave Adigun and support Ladoja. We were like why? I didn’t know Ladoja so well, but I knew Adigun well and we’ve done a lot of field work but he was more experienced than us. He called us the second time that we should support Ladoja, we went on and on and during the primaries we came third because we didn’t know that Baba was going to camp the delegates. We were waiting and Baba just went ahead with the candidates, but at the same time he had soft spot for us particularly me because he knew we were going to win that primary. Immediately we left the stadium that day he sent for me and he sent somebody to also call Nureni and we were there at his house and he apologised, he said ‘nkan ta fi ju yin lo niyen’, of course I accepted and he said he wanted us to cooperate with Ladoja that we should persuade Adigun to work with Ladoja. So Baba Nureni Ile Iba and I went to Adigun and we agreed we didn’t have a choice, it was against our wishes that we worked with Ladoja to emerge as a governor and God crowned our effort and he became the governor. There was nothing Baba Adedibu didnt say and I looked at him as a hero for putting his life down for somebody to become the governor. On the day of that 2003 election, Rotimi Akeredolu, the present Governor of Ondo State, myself, Baba Adedibu and Baba Nureni were all in my house for two hours strategizing, election had started but we needed to do some things.
Later it became ‘Baba did not want me to do this and that’. Naturally I was in Baba’s camp, I was one of the closest people to him till the day he died, a lot of people don’t know this. The day his car was collected at Oja-Oba mosque, Baba left the mosque and came straight to my house. He usually calls me ‘Engineer’, but that day when he said ‘Femi’, I knew something was wrong ‘Ladoja gba motor nidi mi’, he now went down memory lane, he told me how he went against everybody that despite that I should see how Ladoja repaid him. He was in my house for four hours. There and then I called Folarin, I called Gbenga Babalola, Arapaja and some other people. We had a meeting where we agreed to replace the vehicle seized from Baba, we then moved from there. Luckily we got Baba a new bus.
I will not lie, I was there the very first day Baba mentioned impeachment. It was more of a prayer thing, he said ‘so Ladoja did this to me with all I went through, God won’t allow him stay in that office for long’ and that was it. He was our man and we had to support him, we all had roles, I had my own roles and we shared roles out and one way or the other we got it done, if you listen to Baba’s story you will cry. If you have ever been betrayed by someone that made you go against your wishes, that made you fight your own friends, do you know among the people Baba did not support was Dr Olunloyo, who was his neighbor and a former Governor, there was also Engineer Adesina. When we were on Governor Makinde’s case at the last election, i was at a party and they were spraying money on behalf of Bayo Adelabu, it was an APC dominated party, I went to the musician and asked him to start singing Seyi, I was alone, nobody joined me and it was election time. When you think of such things, such sacrifices, you would feel you’ve been betrayed.
You mentioned Senator Teslim Folarin as your friend, how did you feel when he emerged as the APC goverorship candidate and you are in another party?
He remains my friend till tomorrow and I wished him well and supported him. If I have a childhood friend contesting under APC and he comes to me and I feel I can assist him i would do it. That does not take away my belief in my own party.
There was a time you were charged for money laundering with the late Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, would you say that was your lowest point as a politician?
Throughout that case, I knew that we were not going anywhere but the only thing that kept coming to my mind was my mother’s story. You may or may not believe it, it was the handiwork of some people. When you look at the way the case was couched, it was funny. Initially they said government put #8 billion in Jogor’s account, I didn’t event bother myself. The day EFCC invited me to come to Abuja i went there with my statement of account because I also heard the rumor. I thought the case would not last three months and to my surprise it dragged on and on. We had a fantastic team of lawyers and when they presented the case the judge disagreed and me as a science person saw a lot of loopholes, we had about eight judges at different times, it was just a waste of time. At some point my lawyers said I was too jovial with the case. I was living my life, the only feel i had was that my mother’s story kept on reverberating because i knew all the people that wrote the petition and these were people that all benefitted from Akala, i just kept looking at life and the story my mum told me, the people behind it were our friends, it was a waste of time and it exposed me to our judicial system and its one of the areas that need serious reforms. I was at the court at that time experiencing other cases, somebody was jailed for 7 years because he had a 1 million naira business transaction that failed with his friend. It was funny because business is a risk, how can you jail someone for that? I witnessed a lot and concluded our judicial system needs serious reforms.
You were also one of the closest people to former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, what did you miss most about him?
He was somebody that was well prepared for governance, he respects everybody’s views. He never listens to rumors. One of the meetings I had with Governor Makinde, I discovered he listens to rumors a lot which is a weakness. Any leader should be able to face people directly and ask what he heard. There was a time Akala had this crisis with Folarin and someone told me they saw me with Folarin. He called me and said this person said he saw you and your friend, Folarin. I told him that we went for a party together and from there we went somewhere to eat. I said ‘if you have issue with Folarin, I don’t have an issue with him, we are friends’ and he agreed and that did not in any way affect our relationship. Guess what the day Akala and Folarin were reconciled in Ghana I was not there, assuming I’ve taken a position and fought my friend because of him, what would have happened? Nobody called me that they were going to Ghana, in fact it was Obanikoro that called me and said he was thinking of inviting me to Ghana, when I asked what happened, he said he was looking for somebody between the Akala and Folarin. They were reconciled. Akala was a very good man, he had good ideas and you can’t go to him with lies but the sad part of that i always remember was that the people that made him lose his re-election were the people that benefitted hugely from him. They all worked against him, I was going through a list recently and I saw the names of those I know Akala was good to, but they all betrayed him. For example, it was Aare Arisekola that nominated Remi Babalola for Minister and Adedibu fought Akala because of that, at the end of the day I was the person Arisekola called to go to Abuja and help him soften ground, I didn’t know how he knew he was my friend. I had to meet Folarin, Kamoru Adedibu and Gbenga Babalola, they were the three Senators then and we made sure his nomination went through and because of that Baba did not forgive Akala for a long time before they eventually settled. Life is so funny! Alaafin also benefitted from Akala, he did a lot for him, he stood by him, a lot of compromise, but that is life. It’s only the person that is not prepared for the eventualities of life that will get disappointed.
A lot of people know you by your nickname Jogor, what does it mean?
Jogor came as a nickname right from my Form 1, it as giving to me by my classmates and it stuck. There used to be one comic brought in by Kunle Abdul in those days, Jug Heads, I was reading it and they said see his head like jug-head, that was how I became Jogor.
20 years of Jogor Centre, what’s the success secret?
God is the secret and also dedication. Jogor Centre was the first stand alone event center in Nigeria, we are not attached to a hotel. People were using halls in hotels for events, nobody had that dream that it could be a business, God gave me the dream nd the empowerment to execute it. I’m happy that we now have duplications everywhere in the country. I went to the East and I saw halls, I went to the North and I saw same thing everywhere, in Lagos we saw halls and i felt happy we were able to influence employing generations. You will be surprised at the level of employment generations event centres have on the economy. That was why Sanwo-Olu couldnt close down event centres during the covid period, he only regulated them. The diesel man supplying generators, the women selling ankara, the catereers, the decorators, musicians, photographers, deejays, cleaners they cant function without event centres.

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From Boardroom To Politics, Ex-First Bank Boss Eyes Oyo Governor’s Seat

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Adesola Adeduntan, the erstwhile Managing Director of First Bank has been named as one of the would-be successors of the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde come 2027.

 

The banker who was allegedly eased out of banking for some undisclosed misdemeanors is claimed to have began consultations as he charts a new path in politics.

 

Sources hinted that Adeduntan had been interested in an elective position but his participation was measured because of his banking career. But now, the coast is clear and he is already aligning himself with some stakeholders ahead of 2027.

 

A list of names including Ilaji boss, Dotun Sanusi, Taofeek Arapaja, Stanley Olajide and many more has features as interested minds gunning for the number one seat in Oyo, a list Adeduntan has recently joined.

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Ex First Bank Boss, Afonja Dies In Auto Crash

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-Femi Bamgbose

 

Details have emerged on Monday, 20th May, 2024 regarding the tragic death of a former Chairman of First Bank Plc, Ajibola Afonja.

 

The 82 year-old man was said to have died in a car accident.

 

The accident occurred somewhere around Oyo town.

 

Sources hinted papermacheonline that the former Minister popularly known by his company name ‘IDS’ Integrated Dimensional System was rushed to the University College Hospital, Ibadan where he eventually gave up the ghost.

 

The news spread like wildfire within the society circle across Oyo State where Afonja was highly revered.

 

Family sources claimed he would be buried today according to Islamic rites.

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‘How Yahaya Bello Withdrew Almost $1M From Kogi Account To Pay Child’s School Fees’ EFCC boss, Olukoyede

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

 

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

 

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

 

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

 

 

Olukoyede further stated that he personally reached out to Bello, offering him a chance to clarify the situation in a respectful setting within the EFCC office but the ex-governor reportedly declined to cooperate, citing fears of harassment from an unnamed woman.

 

The EFCC boss added, “I didn’t initiate the case; I inherited the case file. I called for the file, and I said there are issues here.

 

“On my own, I called him, which I am not supposed to do, just to honour him as an immediate past governor. ‘Sir, there are issues. I’ve seen this case file. Can you just come let us clarify these issues?’

 

 

“He said, ‘Ha! Thank you, my brother. I know, but I can’t come. There’s one lady that has surrounded EFCC with over 100 people to come and embarrass me and intimitade me.’

 

Bello was said to have suggested that the EFCC come to his village rather than conduct an investigation at the agency’s quarters.

 

“I said if that is the issue, I’m going to pass you through my own gate, and you will come to my floor. We will accord you that respect. I will invite my operatives; they will interrogate and interview you in my own office. What could be more honourable than that to allay the fear?

 

“You know what he said: ‘Thank you, sir, but can’t they come to my village? Olukoyede added.

 

The chairman also highlighted the agency’s achievements during his tenure, stating, “We have recovered close to 120 billion and secured over 1,600 convictions in six months.

 

“I’m so passionate about the need for us to move forward in this country. We need the EFCC to survive. There are so many victims that we have wiped tears off their eyes, people that have been swindled in their millions. Every day, we keep recovering money for victims.”

 

PUNCH Online reports that the EFCC chairman, Olukoyede, has vowed to resign from his position if Yahaya Bello is not prosecuted.

 

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

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