As the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, unveiled the state’s 2020 budget today at the state House of Assembly, New Telegraph gathered last night that the governor has placed a priority on education and health in the budget, thereby increasing allocations to the two sectors.
The size of the budget was not immediately clear last night, but sources close to the government said it will be bigger than last year’s N1.046 trillion.
According to the sources, the budget will give top priority to Education and Health. It was also not clear how much will be spent on the two sectors, but it is believed that the allocation to health will be almost double of last year’s N29.9 billion. “It will be over N30 billion,” an official said, pleading not to be named because “it is out of place to divulge details of the budget before they are released”.
Another source who also pleaded not to be named, said education will have a big chunk of the sectoral allocations.
He said the education vote will be “almost double of last year’s vote at over N40 billion,” he added.
Sanwo-Olu is said to have made the sectoral allocations in a “bold” bid to fulfill his campaign promises and emphasise the point that “it is not all about bricks and mortars; development should focus on human beings.”
Report: US considers pulling up to 4,000 troops from S’Korea
The United States is considering a significant cut to its troop numbers in South Korea if Seoul does not contribute more to the cost of the deployment, South Korean newspaper ‘Chosun Ilbo’ reported on Thursday.
The US broke off talks on defence costs with South Korea this week after demanding Seoul raise its annual contribution to $5bn, more than five times what it pays now, in a rare public display of discord in the alliance.
Neither side has publicly confirmed the numbers, but US President Donald Trump has said the US military presence in and around South Korea was “$5 billion worth of protection”.
“I understand that the US is preparing to withdraw one brigade in case negotiations with South Korea do not go as well as President Trump wants,” a diplomatic source in Washington with knowledge of the negotiations was cited as saying by ‘Chosun Ilbo’.
A typical US military brigade numbers about 3,000 to 4,000 troops. There are about 28,500 American troops currently stationed in South Korea, which remains technically in a state of war with nuclear-armed neighbour North Korea following a 1950-1953 conflict, reports al-Jazeera.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was not aware of any plans to withdraw 4,000 troops from South Korea if cost-sharing talks failed.
“We’re not threatening allies over this. This is a negotiation,” he told reporters during a trip to Vietnam.
South Korea’s defence ministry said the Chosun report was “not the official position of the US government”.
Strains among allies
Under US law, the United States’s troop presence in South Korea must not fall below 22,000 unless the secretary of defence justifies a further reduction to Congress.
‘Chosun Ilbo’ said the potential reduction of a brigade had already been discussed with the top brass of US forces in South Korea.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said on Wednesday he believed the US should continue to station troops in South Korea when asked if he would continue to advocate for the presence of US military personnel in the country if he was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State.
“South Korea is among our most important alliance partners. That doesn’t mean anybody gets a free ride. We have a tough burden-sharing negotiation that we’re in the middle of with the South Koreans,” Biegun said.
South Korean political party leaders visited Washington, DC on Wednesday to press for a fair and reasonable outcome of the cost-sharing talks.
“I stressed that a withdrawal of US troops from South Korea should not be brought up, as the South Korea-US alliance also helps the US national interest,” said Na Kyung-won of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, which Seoul decided to terminate after relations soured over historical issues and has become the subject of increasing US pressure to renew, is set to expire on November 23.
South Korea’s presidential office is holding a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, where the agreement is expected to be discussed, South Korean media said.
Trump impeachment: Ukraine officials knew about hold on aid earlier than reported
A senior U.S. Department of Defense official testified on Wednesday that Ukrainian officials knew President Donald Trump’s administration was withholding military assistance in July, undercutting a key Republican defense of the president’s actions in the impeachment inquiry.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Laura Cooper testified at a hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Trump that has largely focused on the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid, reports Reuters.
She said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on October 23.
Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25 from the State Department saying that Ukraine’s embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance.
“On July 25 a member of my staff got a question from a Ukrainian Embassy contact asking what was going on with U.S. security assistance,” Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee at the impeachment hearing.
July 25 was the day of a telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the Republican U.S. president raised the issues of an investigation of Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the aid.
Cooper also said some of her staff had met with officials from the Ukrainian embassy during the week of August 6 and that they had raised the issue of the aid.
Defending Trump in the inquiry, some Republicans have sought to minimize the impact of the White House decision to withhold the military aid by saying Ukraine was only aware of the hold for two weeks before the hold was lifted on September 11.
In the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, investigators are looking into whether Trump withheld the aid in order to pressure Ukraine to launch the investigations.
Trump – backed up by most congressional Republicans – denies wrongdoing.
Cooper also said she had never discussed a hold on security assistance for Ukraine with Trump and never heard from him directly on the matter.
Trump hosted Zuckerberg for undisclosed dinner at White House
President Donald Trump hosted a previously undisclosed dinner with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook board member Peter Thiel at the White House in October, the company told NBC News on Wednesday.
The meeting took place during Zuckerberg’s most recent visit to Washington, where he testified before Congress about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency Libra. Zuckerberg also gave a speech at Georgetown University detailing his company’s commitment to free speech, and its resistance to calls for the company to crack down on misinformation in political ads.
Facebook confirmed the meeting to NBC News on Wednesday.
“As is normal for a CEO of a major U.S. company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
It is unclear why the meeting was not made public or what Trump, Zuckerberg and Thiel discussed.
The White House declined to comment.
Reps: ICPC misled Buhari on N1trn constituency projects
- Senators to President: Ask ministers what happened to money
- Lawmakers: Poor releases liable for abandoned projects
- Gbajabiamila: Anti-graft agencies must do diligent probe
The House of Representatives has accused the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) of providing misleading statistics, upon which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to say about N1 trillion was expended on National Assembly members’ constituency projects in 10 years.
President Buhari had, on Tuesday, at an event organised by office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in conjunction with the ICPC, declared that about N1 trillion was wasted in 10 years in constituency projects by the National Assembly members.
The President said that data collected from Nigerians in rural communities pointed to the fact that they had not felt the impact of the said projects, as there was no commensurate result with the funds spent.
But at yesterday’s plenary of the House, the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) raised a point of order, in which he argued that the said figures were incorrect, and breached his privileges as a member of the National Assembly.
According to Elumelu, “I saw in the newspapers, dated 20th November 2019, and one thing is very consistent and that is the comment credited to our amiable President saying that N1 trillion was made available in the last 10 years to the National Assembly for constituency projects and that there was no value for the money spent. Yes, in the last 10 years, N1 trillion was actually made available by way N100 billion annually for constituency projects.
“Truly, our constituents do not have value for such provisions. But one thing I am worried about is that words have meanings. My constituents called me to ask me to give account of the money that came to my constituency. I had so many calls and it was difficult for me to explain.
“My worry and why I am bringing this up is that, yes I got N100 million budgeted, but actual releases was not up to 50 per cent. In actual sense, even this year, we never got release more than 40 per cent. I can conveniently tell you that only about 30 per cent has been released.”
He submitted that: “Section four of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, says we should make budgets and if we pass budget in this House, the onus is now on the executive to implement and award contract. We don’t award contracts.
“I don’t know of any member who is a member of the tender’s board. In effect, the National Assembly has nothing to do with the execution of any contract. It is painful that the agency that generated that information failed to state that while it is true that N1 trillion was budgeted in the last 10 years, this money has not been released.
“I am not happy because the information is capable of giving me a bad name before my community. The ICPC that wrote this report failed to tell the truth of how much was actually released. When you say N1 trillion is budgeted like the President said, if that money was released completely, there will be value commensurate to the money.
“I wonder why the ICPC man failed to look at what was released. Why should ours be a subject of debate that they will tell Nigerians we received N1 trillion when it was budgeted, but not released. My message is that we should let them know that while N1 trillion was budgeted for constituency projects, by way of releases, we did not receive that because what was released was less that 40 per cent.”
Supporting the motion, the deputy minority leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) argued that the biggest problem with such projects was poor release of funds for their execution, adding that those who informed the President failed to take such into consideration.
He said: “The issue is very important because words have meanings. In all the papers, they said N1 trillion wasted on constituency projects in 10 years. Of course, Mr. President would have been responding to information given to him. I am a student of public policy analysis. I understand that projects and policies of government go through interrogation.
“When you say N1 trillion is released, it presupposes that the equivalent value of that money should be on ground. There is also a presupposition that this money is given to members. Our responsibility is to make laws and pass budget and once that is done, it goes to the Executive and the execution is the responsibility of the executive.”
Okechukwu argued that “on the average, we have about 50 per cent of that money that has been released in the last 10 years. The reason why we have so many abandoned projects in our communities is because of lack of releases.
“You award contract and you pay 50 per cent. What happens to the remaining 50 per cent? How can you complete them? I know that in the last 10 years, this House has appropriated an average of N7 trillion and that presupposes that you spent N70 trillion.
“In the 2019 budget, about N220 billion was budgeted for roads and what was released was N45 billion. If you are expecting the value of N220 billion when you give N45 billion, I don’t know what you will see.”
In his response, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the matter affected the collective privileges of members of the whole House, and may yield a bad consequence.
According to the speaker, “I think it is a breach of our collective privilege as a House and not one person. My concern is the unintended consequences of words spoken. These are words emanating from a report by ICPC. There could be unintended consequences that could come out of it.
“You put people’s wellbeing at risk. I feel it is okay to use the National Assembly as the weeping boys. The fact is that there is the FOI bill. The ICPC could easily invoke their power of investigation and look at releases as compared to what was budgeted.
“The ICPC that made the report, I don’t think they will appreciate if the House, in discharge of its constitutional responsibilities, did an oversight on ICPC based on what was budgeted as opposed to what was released to them. When you break an egg, it is going to be difficult to put it together.
“I will use this medium to send this message across to ICPC and other agencies to do their work of investigation well. There is a difference between money budgeted and money released. It is as simple as ABC.”
The motion was consequently sustained and adopted.
FAAC: FG, states, LGs share N702.058bn as October revenue
The three tiers of government – federal, states and 774 local government councils – yesterday shared N702.058 billion as October revenue from the federation account.
The amount was confirmed last night by the Accountant General of Federation, Mallam Idris Ahmed who presided over Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) that held in Abuja.
The N702.058 billion comprised revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT), Exchange Gain and Gross Statutory Revenue.
The gross statutory revenue for the month of October 2019 was N596.041 billion. It was lower than the N599.701 billion received in the previous month by N3.660 billion. Revenue from VAT was N104.910 billion as against N92.874 billion distributed in the preceding month, resulting in an increase of N12.036 billion. Exchange Gain yielded a total revenue of N1.107 billion.
Of N702.058 billion shared, the Federal Government received N295.737 billion, the states received N192.697 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N144.987 billion.
The oil producing states received N49.164 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the revenue generating agencies received N19.472 billion as cost of revenue collection.
A breakdown of the distribution showed that from the gross statutory revenue of N596.041 billion, the Federal Government received N280.110 billion, the states received N142.076 billion, the local government councils received N109.534 billion, the oil producing states received N49.044 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the revenue collecting agencies received N15.276 billion as cost of collection.
From the VAT, the Federal Government received N15.107 billion, the states received N50.357 billion, the local government councils received N35.250 billion and the revenue generating agencies received N4.196 billion.
The balance in Excess Crude Account (ECA) stood at $324 million as of 20th November 2019.
FEC approves $500m UK loan for industrialisation
The Federal Government is set to receive a fresh loan of N500 million (about N200 billion) from the London Branch of the Credit Suisse AG.
A syndicate of international lenders will serve as collateral.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday approved the issuance of a Sovereign Guarantee for the loan facility to be utilized by the Bank of Industry (BOI) for industrialization projects and support Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) value chains in Nigeria.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents after the FEC meeting.
The minister explained further that the main objective of the loan is to support industry; revitalize agro-industrial processing zones and to facilitate the creation of new jobs.
He said: “The loan is basically to finance major industrialization projects and micro-small and medium enterprises value chains in Nigeria for up to five years tenure at affordable rates; these rates are single digit rates. The guarantor of the loan shall be the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this is going to be executed through the Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning.
“The main objective of the loan is to support industry, revitalise agro-industrial processing zones, and to facilitate the creation of new jobs.
“We do believe that about 1.2 million jobs will be created through this facility; increase the income of farming communities and promote the inclusion of SMEs and small holder producers in the industrial value chain and the deployment of transportation infrastructure that connects farming communities to processors and market.”
According to the Budget Minister, “The loan will be swapped to naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mitigate the foreign exchange risk and the fund will, therefore, be available to Nigerian enterprises at a more affordable rate and in local currency.”
FEC also, yesterday, approved what it described as a Justice Sector Policy for Nigeria.
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the measure is part of efforts to improve reforms in the country’s judicial sector.
While explaining the council’s decision, the AGF said that the policy would ensure speedy administration of justice, quality administration and access to justice.
Malami said FEC also approved a memo seeking to amend the Geneva Convention and re-enact it to grant access to justice by prisoners of war (POW).
He said Nigeria was not at par with the rest of the world, particularly in the area of granting POWs certain rights and privileges.
In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Salleh Mamman, said council also approved a memo seeking for the ratification of President Buhari to release $2 million which is part of Nigeria’s contribution to the West African Power Pool.
Corruption: Senate reads riot act to CBN, FIRS, AMCON, 22 others
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday, read the riot act to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and 22 other agencies of the Federal Government over their apparent refusal to give account regarding their income and expenditure operations from 2017 to 2019.
The committee expressed disappointment that every year, these agencies received huge sums of money as budgetary allocations, grants and donations, but have consistently evaded submitting their audited accounts for scrutiny at the end of each year.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Matthew Urhogide, who briefed newsmen on the situation, stated that the practice of expending public resources without accounting for them was at the root of the widespread corruption in the public sector and vowed that the committee was poised to put a stop to it.
Urhogide said that the extant laws require Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government to submit their audited accounts to the Public Accounts Committee of the Senate at the end of every fiscal year, but this rule has been observed more in the breach.
He listed the other defaulting MDAs to include: Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Nigerian Investments Promotion Council (NIPC), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), National Space Research & Development Agency and Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute.
Others are Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigeria Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Industrial Training Fund, Nigerian Railway Corporation and National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
Urhogide said that in order to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public funds as well as guarantee economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources, the Senate Public Accounts Committee had earlier issued correspondences to these institutions of government seeking their responses to enable the committee carry out special oversight functions in line with Sections 85, 88 & 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Order 97(5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended.
He disclosed that in the light of the fact that these agencies have refused to comply with the laws, they have been given the next seven days as the last opportunity to submit the audited accounts ahead of a public hearing on the matter.
13,423 Nigerian students paid $514m to U.S. in 2018
- NYSC: 16,580 foreign graduates refused to defend certificates
At least 13,423 Nigerians currently studying in the United States (U.S.) contributed $514 million to the U.S. economy in 2018, according to official data.
The data is contained in the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The report indicates that Nigeria is the 11th leading place of origin for foreign students in the U.S. as of the 2018/2019 session.
It accounts for 1.2 per cent of the total number of 1,095,299 international students in the country.
A breakdown of the figure shows that 5,689 of the Nigerian students are at the undergraduate level, 5,274 at the graduate level, 367 at the non-degree students, and 2,093 on Optional Practical Training (OPT).
According to Wikipedia, OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students work for one year on a student visa towards acquiring practical training to complement their education.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria is the only African country in the top 20 places of origin for international students in the U.S.
China holds the top position with 369,548 students, followed by India with 202,014, South Korea (52,250), Saudi Arabia (37,080), and Canada rounding out the top five with 26,122 students.
According to the report, international students account for 5.5 per cent of the total U.S. higher education population.
Citing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the report said that foreign students contributed $44.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5 per cent from the previous year.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are the top choices of international students with 52 per cent of the total studying in those fields, according to the report.
The report shows that out of 341,751 U.S. citizens studying abroad in 2017/18, Nigeria hosted 34, making it the 130th destination for American students.
The UK, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, China, Australia, Costa Rica, and Japan were the top 10 study destinations for American citizens, hosting an average of 18,000 students each.
South Africa occupies the 11th position on the table as host to 6,001 American students in 2017/18.
“We are happy to see the continued growth in the number of international students in the United States and U.S. students studying abroad,” said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Washington, Royce said that promoting the mobility of international students remained a top priority for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
“We want even more students in the future to see the U.S. as the best destination to earn their degrees.
“International exchange makes our colleges and universities more dynamic for all students.
“Education at a U.S. institution can have a transformative effect for international students, just like study abroad experiences can for U.S. students,” she said.
FG pays marketers N400bn for fuel subsidy
The Federal Government has paid about N400 billion subsidy debts to major fuel marketers just as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) spending on subsidy to import Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, hits N1.06 billion in one day.
Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Clement Isong, who announced the subsidy payment to New Telegraph yesterday, maintained that the imbursement, which is half of the N800 billion subsidy debts, was made to members of his group through promissory notes.
He said: “About 400 billion subsidy has been approved and paid through promissory notes. This divides the debts into half.
“We still have challenges. We owe banks, the government owes us. But, we feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel. What happens is that when the money is paid, we pay the bank, but as a business, we need to have margins. I am chasing margins now because a business that has no margin is not a business.”
Everyone, according to him, knows that it doesn’t make sense for private business concerns to “import petrol into Nigeria. This, I believe, is what has made the NNPC to be the sole importer of the product.”
Meanwhile, the NNPC, which is now the sole importer of petrol incurred N1.06 billion, spending on subsidy in one day.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), which announced this in its latest report, noted that the corporation currently subsidised the cost of petrol by N19.37 per litre.
The report published on Tuesday also shows that Nigeria’s current daily consumption of petrol is valued at 55.8 million litres, while NNPC spends an average of N1.06 billion on every litre of petrol consumed in the country daily.
The landing cost of petrol for November 18 was, according to the PPPRA, N144.7 per litre, while the distribution margin was put at N19.37 per litre.
“The total cost of petrol, adding the landing cost together with the distribution cost is N164.07 per litre, but the NNPC takes the distribution costs off the private marketers as subsidy,” data from the report showed.
Petrol is sold at a modulated price of N145 per litre at filling stations across the country.
The Senate, it would be recalled had, in May, approved N129 billion as payment to cover debts to marketers in the last fuel subsidy regime.
For over two years, the NNPC has imported close to 90 per cent of the nation’s petrol because the difference between the price cap and international fuel costs made it expensive for private marketers to import the product.
In another development, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, at the 37th National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) Conference & Exhibition in Lagos announced there would be a licensing round for ultra-deep water assets next year.
“As we are all aware, the ultra-deep water is completely unexplored today. Before the end of this year or next year, God willing, I believe there will be some form of bid rounds in that space,” he said.
Kyari said the nation’s crude oil reserves had fluctuated around 37 billion barrels in recent years due to stalled exploration, saying that there might be “a massive depletion in the available resources.”
He added that the amendment of the Deep Offshore Act was a requirement of law, saying the conditions required to make changes were met since 2003.
Kyari also stated that the corporation was poised to automate its downstream facilities such as depots, pump stations and measurement systems across the country.
He stated this during a tour of the state-of-the-art products loading facility and lubricants manufacturing plant of MRS Oil Nigeria Plc., an indigenous oil company based in Lagos.
FG moves to quash P&ID liability contract
The Federal Government, yesterday, said it has begun enhanced strategies geared towards setting aside the entire P&ID liability and possible nullification of the contract.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) stated this while giving an update on the pending issue.
Malami’s position was contained in a statement issued yesterday by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, in Abuja.
According to the minister, under the new strategy, “no lawyers were replaced, but more lawyers with specialized skills are locally and internationally engaged to support the existing capacity and initiate fresh suits with a view to achieving the desired result.”
Explaining what he meant by the desired results, the AGF said “this time around, it is not limited to a challenge on enforcement proceedings, but extended to setting aside the entire liability and probably the nullification of the contract on the basis of which the award was hinged.”
While repudiating the allegation on replacement of the Nigerian legal team on P&ID issue, Malami said: “Our lawyers originally engaged have proven to be versatile, competent and effective and constitute our winning team. They have such capacity which we do not doubt in their ability to deliver.
“There was no change of counsel, but enhanced strategy commonly agreed upon which was targeted at getting overall success.”
Malami had described the so-called P&ID contract as a well-organized scam “consciously, deliberately and intentionally orchestrated by some dubious and well-placed Nigerian government officials at the time with some shrewd foreign collaborators to defraud Nigeria and inflict heavy economic and financial loss on Nigeria and its people.”
He, however, vowed that the Nigerian government will not sell out the interest of the country and the Nigerian people in order to satisfy some elements who are consciously out to extort the Nigerian people for their selfish aggrandizement.
“We will not allow fraudulent local and foreign collaborators to rip off the resources of Nigeria for no just cause, but merely to be seen as being nice or investor-friendly,” he stated.
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