Definition, Meaning, Causes, Solutions and Facts of Insecurity in Nigeria


Definition, Meaning, Causes Solutions and Facts of Insecurity in Nigeria

Definition and Meaning of Insecurity  

The Meaning of Insecurity The word “insecurity” has myriads of connotations. It signifies danger; hazard; uncertainty; lack of protection, and lack of safety.  Beland (2005) defines‟ insecurity as “the state of fear or anxiety stemming from a concrete or alleged lack of protection.” It refers to lack or inadequate freedom from danger. This implies that insecurity is an absence of peace, order and security.

Achumba, Ighomeroho, Akpor (2013) defines insecurity from two perspectives.

Firstly, insecurity is the state of being open or subject to danger or threat of danger, where danger is the condition of being susceptible to harm or injury.

Secondly, insecurity is the state of being exposed to risk or anxiety, where anxiety is a vague unpleasant emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some misfortune. These definitions of insecurity underscore a major point that those affected by insecurity are not only uncertain or unaware of what would happen but they are also vulnerable to the threats and dangers when they occur. People engaged in business activity, either directly or indirectly, to satisfy unlimited human wants. Therefore, business has become part and parcel of human existence in particular and global world in general.

United Nations Development Programme (1994) defines Security as protection from hidden and hurtful disruptions in the daily activities, at homes, offices or communities etc. This implies that security borders on ensuring safety of lives and properties. Williams (2008) who sees security from the socio-political perspective opines that security involves the capacity to pursue cherished political and social ambitions. That is, security is socio-political in nature as without security there can be no political stability and consequently social activities will be in chaos.

Insecurity in Nigeria

Nigeria has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity since the inception of the immediate past administration till the present democratic political dispensation. The nature of insecurity has been regionalized: militia groups in the south, insurgency in the north, kidnapping in the east and south, ritual killings in the east and west, political and non-political calculated assassinations across the nation. Boko Haram birthed as a radical fundamentalist Islamic sect, formed by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, in 2002 in Maiduguri, Borno state. In 2004, it moved to Kanamma, Yobe state, where it set up a base called Afghanistan (Ikenga and Efebeh, 2013). The sect officially calls itself “Jama‟atul Alhul Sunnah Liddo‟ wati Wal Jihad” which means “people committed to the propagation of the prophet‟s teachings and Jihad” (Nwanegbo and Odigbo, 2013; Ikenga and Efebeh 2013; Meehan & Speier, 2011). Their violent activity started in 2009.

Insecurity is a critical issue that has hampered industrialization and sustainable development in Nigeria in particular and Africa at large. Nigeria which is perceived as the giant of Africa has witnessed an unprecedented incidences of insecurity ranging from the activities of Fulani Herdsmen; Boko Haram Insurgencies, Armed Robber Attacks, kidnapping, political/religious crisis, murder, destruction of oil facilities by Niger Delta militants, Child Abduction/ Trafficking etc. Other crimes committed by these Islamic sect include; destruction of vehicles; burning of churches, police stations, schools, hospitals, clinics, shops, army barracks and residential houses; abduction of expatriates. These challenges have made security a pivotal issue that has culminated in the allocation of country‟s huge meagre resources to the protection of lives and properties. It has also made government to divert resources meant for developmental purposes to security. Also, the alarming rate at which the economic, political, social and religious affairs of the nation are dwindling at present is a real symptom of insecurity. Similarly, insecurity has threatened the desperate attempt to industrialize, the existing socio-cultural tranquility and sustainable development. Consequent upon this, the Global Peace Index (2012) rated Nigeria low as regards security matters. The implication is that Nigeria symbolizes unsafe place of abode and has also been included among one of the terrorist countries of the world. Therefore, investors, foreigners, expatriate and even indigents of Nigeria are scared about investing and committing their hard-earned resources in lucrative businesses in Nigeria. Insecurity, therefore, refers to the state of fear, anxiety, restlessness, uncertainty, stemming from lackadaisical attitude of our disgruntled and greedy politicians, militants and Boko Haram Sects. This is proven by the high rate of bombings and killings in Nigeria cum political and economic related assassinations as well as the politically influenced communal wars making the job of security agents in Nigeria porous and insignificant. Insecurity per sec is a real menace to industrialization, healthy living, freedom of worship, national growth and sustainable development because businesses thrive tremendously in an atmosphere devoid of rancour, economic, social, religious and political quagmire. Insecurity in Nigeria has led to the destruction of lives, properties and equipments; relocation and closing down of businesses, Adeleke (2013). To buttress this point further; the lives of fifty five citizens were claimed in Kaduna State on Thursday, 18th October, 2018. Also six farmers were reported dead in Ebonyi State on Thursday, 24th October, 2018 as a result of brutal and inimical attitude of Fulani Herdsmen. Insecurity is a real threat to human existence and economic development. Security which is the opposite of insecurity is ideally a part of human existence and sustenance has been recklessly and ruthlessly neglected owing to religious, cultural and political misconceptions. Security is therefore perceived as a situation in which citizens are free from any threats to their life and means of livelihood, free from bodily harm, diseases, unemployment, and human rights violations wherever they may find themselves within a sovereign nation.

Nigeria as a nation has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity despite the propositions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary aim of government”. But, unfortunately, government has not played a pivotal role as far as security matters are concerned in Nigeria. This is because Muslims Leaders are bent on exterminating Christianity in Nigeria and have packaged terrorists to damn the image of Christians which turned out to the detriment of both Muslims and Christians. The provision of secured and safe environment for lives, properties and the conduct of business and economic activities in Nigeria have been impinged owing to the attitude of some top government officials towards security of lives. Evidence has showed that those occupying prestigious positions are the authentic perpetrators and supporters of Boko Haram unruly insurgencies in the country. This unscrupulous attitude of government has continued to position Nigeria in a perpetual state of retrogression and infancy. This is reflected by the nation‟s high rate of dependency on other foreign counterparts and high poverty rate in the country.

Therefore, the inability of government to provide a secure and conducive environment for protection of lives, properties and the conduct of business and numerous economic activities has led to lack of interest and dissatisfaction among business investors, Anekwe, Ndubuisi-Okolo and Anigbogu (2015). This has resulted in communal clashes, religious violence and crime in different parts of the country, disrupted businesses and economic activities, and retarded economic growth and development in Nigeria. All these have implications on industrialization and sustainable development. This is because no business investor would want to invest in an unsafe and insecure environment.

In the light of the foregoing, the study sets out to examine how insecurity is detrimental and inimical to industrialization and sustainable development, the causes of insecurity in today‟s contemporary environment and remedies to the menace of insecurity in Nigeria.

A trouble is a private matter and occurs when values cherished by an individual are felt by him to be threatened, while issues have to do with matters that transcend the local environments of the individual. So when values cherished by the public are felt to be threatened, then there is an issue because that is a communal matter.

If only one man is unemployed in a city of 100,000, that is his personal trouble, and for a solution, we investigate the character of the person, his skills and his immediate opportunities, but when in a nation of 50 Million people we have 15 Million that are unemployed, that is an issue and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any individual, this signifies that the very structure of opportunities has collapsed.

In the above scenario, both the correct statement of the problem and the range of possible solutions, require us to consider economic and political institutions of the society and not merely the personal situation and character of individuals.

In the early 20th century sociologists typically associated social problems such as unemployment, crime, poverty with deviant individuals. As a result when they sought to solve social problems, they focus on changing individual behaviour, although this approach is still alive today, sociologist had by and large arrived at a different understanding.

By the mid-century, sociologist turned away from an emphasis on individuals to a consideration of the social structures of nation’s organizations and institutions such as corporations, governments and the media for an understanding of the possible factors influencing social inequalities.

Sociologists have come to define social problems as problems that concern large numbers of people, have social structural causes, and require social-structural solutions. This approach remains fundamental to the sociological perspective. It was a step forward from the individualistic approach. Because by finally demonstrating that social problems have structural causes, sociologist helped to steer the people away from unproductive scape-goating of individuals to an awareness of the need for social change.

When a problem affects a large number of people, we must look beyond individuals to social structures-the larger economic, political, and social patterns of a society, we cannot solve the problems of a society that is structurally flawed by changing individuals one at a time.

We live in a world where people are increasingly interconnected and so are their problems, people in USA losing their jobs when factories are moved to nations where wages are lower. In Brazil people lose their homelands when the rain forests are cut down to make furniture for the world market, these are pointers to the need for one to look beyond what is being seen as a problem to determine its influencing factors.

For over a decade, Nigeria has been fraught with insecurity challenges, from Boko Haram and their ISWAP counterparts to Bandits and unknown gun men, in the midst of all this, the statistics of unemployed youths and graduates in the nation has been rising to an alarming rate, the basic development infrastructures like electricity to enhance the industrialization of the nation in order to create employment opportunities has been lacking, thereby crippling other efforts to drive the economic resurgence of the 7th most populous nation in the world.

It’s a fact that the issue of insecurity in the nation has invincible social sponsors like poverty and unemployment; these contributes to frustration and anger that can result to one taking to armed robbery, kidnapping or pitching tent with agitators calling for dissolution of the nation under the guise of revolutionaries thereby creating more panic in the society.

Leading nations of the world are undergoing a process of modernization, encompassing changes such as industrialization, urbanization, and growing social complexity in the modernization perspective.

Insecurity in Nigeria and Imo are social problems inherent in Nigeria, and as a social problem, can be seen as failures in modernization. For example, in today’s world societies that fail to industrialize will be poor and conflict ridden. On an optimistic note, this perspective suggests that these problems can be solved through government intervention to lead society on the road to modernization.

So many of today’s social problems are global in nature, we cannot hope to solve them by focusing on individual nations, ISWAP that are recently credited with killing of Shekau the Boko Haram leader, is an offshoot of a globally recognized terrorist network.

On this premise, Senator Hope Uzodinma and other Governors facing insecurity challenges are also victims of the same circumstance with the people they govern, because the challenge cannot be resolved successfully by an individual, but with modernistic social approaches strong enough to trigger a paradigm shift among the populace, that can feed them with hope and dreams that are far better than for them resorting to violence.

The Nigerian government has to understand that insecurity in the nation requires a proactive economic plan, accompanied by a wealth of opportunities to help engage its people in productive activities that can help them to dream of a better tomorrow.

Prisons and Electric Chairs in nations like USA have not stopped the crimes associated with drugs and gun violence, so equipping Nigerian Military and Police Force with exotic weapons will not end insurgency faster than creating an enabling environment that will help the people to dream would.

The Insecurity in Imo and its concomitant hazards that has been successfully arrested as a situation was inherited from Nigeria by Senator Hope Uzodinma, the Unknown Gun-men issue is related to other inherent negative social factors in other parts of Nigeria as well as other nations outside of Nigeria.

The best he can do for Imo and his people is to create a wealth of opportunities like he is doing, recently he empowered 15,000 Imo youths with a seed of 250,000 Naira each, after completing their entrepreneurial skills. That is a good step in the right direction but will not end the issue until the entire political leadership of Nigeria accelerate the steps towards industrialization, and create not just opportunities but an enabling environment to help their people dream differently.

Insecurity in Nigeria is not a national problem as most people think but rather trans-national, Nigeria need to look beyond its borders for insurgents, as well as overhauling its economic plan to totally eliminate this visible and invisible enemy.

Senator Hope Uzodinma as Governor of Imo State is innocent just like every one of us that has not chosen violence, guns and grenades as means of conversing with our fellow Nigerians. Leadership sometimes comes with tough and unpleasant decisions and the Governor has not retreated from them having consistently chosen the ones that serve the interest and safety of Imo people first.

Before we start apportioning blames and looking for whom to fault for the uncertainties that have ravaged our communities in this short time, we need to remember that we are citizens in a global world that we do not control. Insecurity in Nigeria and Imo, are social problems that unemployment, poverty of opportunities and lack of basic amenities to enhance the survival of an individual will remain its unseen sponsors.


Major Causes of Insecurity in Nigeria

Myriads of factors have been attributed to have contributed to magnitude of insecurity in Nigeria. Many erudite scholars have identified several causes of insecurity in Nigeria that are inimical to socio-economic growth and development (Ali, 2013; Okorie, 2011; Jega, 2002; Salawu, 2010;Onyishi, 2011; Ezeoba, 2011; Lewis, 2002; Achumba and Akpor 2013).

These causes have bedeviled the smooth flow of business activities in Nigeria. They include but not limited to the following: Political Quagmire The existence of innumerable political parties has caused havoc in Nigeria. This is because majority has not really comprehended the ethics of politics.

Misconceptions, uprisings from diverse parties have landed many politicians to their untimely grave.

Politics is a game of luck and not “a Do or Die affair‟ business. For instance, few years ago, the unexpected power shift from the northern hegemony to a minority geo-political zone of South-south, as a result of the death of President Yar’adua could be linked to the initial high tempo of insecurity. That is, the death of President Yar’adua resulted in an alteration of the northern perpetual claim on political power in Nigeria. In addition, the refutation of the North-South agreement on rotational presidency within the People‟s Democratic Party (PDP) is also another major element, thus the death of Yar‟Adua and the ascendancy of Good luck Ebele Jonathan as the president disarrayed planned and articulated political arrangement (Ferrell, 2012). In addition, there is incessant rancour among political leaders even within same party and rancor between the ruling party and the opposition parties. There are also several economic related assassinations all over the nation which creates problems to the nation’s economic growth and development. Furthermore, there is the power inter-play and over-ambition of politicians who willfully encourage the procurement of weapons in order to pursue their inordinate political ambitions (Egbewole, 2013).

The struggle for political power, religious imposition and land disputes and the lack of aid for victims or punishment for troublemakers, corrupt persons, and the mismanagement of the economy have all fuelled tensions in the country, Akonbede (2013).

Tom (2012) maintained that three things are interwoven in Nigeria - religion, politics and ethnicity - and the three are beclouded with corruption, poverty and insecurity.

1. Leadership/power Tussle: This factor has resulted in putting the square peg in a round hole. This has deprived Nigerians the benefit of being administered by good leaders as most of the political leaders are in office for their own selfish gains. Often, sadly, these crops of political leaders oppress the citizens with the looted money, train thugs and hooligans who later turn to armed robbers, kidnappers, drug pushers etc when they are dumped by the politicians after elections thus constituting a serious threat to national growth and development.

2.  Unemployment/ Poverty Issue: The degree with which unemployed youths are roaming about the street is alarming. These unemployed youths at present employ themselves by engaging in illegal activities such as kidnapping, robbery, child abduction, and other nefarious activities. As a result of the high level of unemployment and poverty among Nigerians, especially the youths, they are adversely attracted to violent crime (Adagba, et al, 2012). This is depicted by recent development in Anambra State where reports by Fides (2018) unveiled a 70-year old farmer butchered by disgruntled, hunger-infested and jobless youths residing in their villages owing to unemployment palaver. Nwagbosa (2012) posits that the failure of successive administrations in Nigeria to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequitable distribution of wealth among ethnic nationalities is one major causes of insecurity in the country. Unemployment has a severe negative implication on sustainable and national development in Nigeria. Poverty also is a threat to human existence and reduces a man to a perpetual state of infancy. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, 2007) opines that despite Nigerian huge resources and oil wealth, poverty is still rampant to the extent that the country is ranked one of the 20th poorest countries in the world”. Indeed, over 70 percent of the population is classified as poor, with 35 percent living in abject poverty (Andenrele, 2014).

3. Porous Borders: Achumba, Ighomeroho and Akpor-Robaro (2013) observe that the porous frontiers of the country, where individual movements are largely untracked have contributed to the high degree of insecurity in Nigeria. As a result, there is an unchecked inflow of Small Arms and Light Weapons into the country which has aided militancy and criminality in Nigeria (Hazen and Horner, 2007). Available data show that Nigeria host over 70 percent of about 8 million illegal weapons in West Africa (Edeko, 2011). Also, the porosity of the Nigerian borders has aided the uncontrollable influx of migrants, mainly young men, from neighboring countries such as Republic of Niger, Chad and Republic of Benin responsible for some of the criminal acts (Adeola and Oluyemi, 2012).The porosity has raised a lot of dust which has degenerated into the ugly experiences we are currently facing today. Nigeria is the only country people troop in and out without adequate tracking and checkmating.

4. Ethno-Religious Conflicts: These have arisen from distrust among various ethnic groups and among the major religions in the country, Ibrahim and Igbuzor (2002), Hazen and Horner, (2007), Salawu (2010) and Igbuzor, (2011) identified ethno-religious conflict as a major source of insecurity in Nigeria. Ethnoreligious conflict was defined as a situation in which the relationship between members of one ethnic or religious group and another of such group in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion, fear, and tendency towards violent confrontation. Frequent and persistent ethnic conflicts and religious clashes between the two dominant religions (Islam and Christianity), present the country with a major security challenge. In all parts of Nigeria, there exist ethno-religious conflicts and these according to Ibrahim and Igbuzor (2002) have emerged as a result of new and particularistic forms of political consciousness and identity often structured around ethno-religious identities. The claim over scarce resources, power, land, chieftaincy, local government, councils, control of markets and sharia among other trivial issues have resulted in large scale killings andviolence amongst groups in Nigeria (Adagba, et al, 2012).

5. Weak Security System: This result from inadequate equipment for the security arm of government, both in weaponry and training (Achumba et al. 2013). This is in addition to poor attitudinal and behavioural disposition of security personnel. In many cases, security personnel assigned to deal with given security situations lack the expertise and equipment to handle the situations in a way to prevent them from occurring. And even when these exist, some security personnel get influenced by ethnic, religious or communal sentiment and are easily swallowed by their personal interest to serve their people, rather than the nation. Thus, instead of being national watch dogs and defending national interest and values, and protecting people from harm by criminals, they soon become saboteurs of government effort, by supporting and fuelling insecurity through either leaking vital security information or aiding and abetting criminals to acquire weapons or to escape the long arm of the law (Achumba and Akpor, 2013).

6. Wrong Perception between the Public and Government: Over the years, there has been a standing mismatch between public and government perceptions. A situation which often result in the reactions of the public to the excesses of the military regimes which governed Nigeria and has continued after the end of military regimes and created a sensitivity by those in government at public intrusion in matters of state. Frequently, on any given incident, public and government reactions diverge. In such situations, the media has never helped matters. Media practices have always focused on the dramatic and the spectacular view of the given situations. Such reports have always been capitalized on in sophisticated ways by various groups, some of which are violent to incite public clamour for a change and immediate reaction through strategically provocative violence. The point here is that the approach of media report over the years has contributed to exacerbate insecurity or perception of insecurity in Nigeria. President Jonathan alluded to this situation when he made reference to the popular axiom that the pen is mightier than the sword. In his statement, the sword is used to kill and destroy but what we use the pen to do is also very critical. When you have a society with these unending political conflicts, it is there on the media whether print, electronic or social media and this brings a lot of insecurity to the system” (Bello & Oyedele, 2012).

7.  Lack of Institutional Capacity Resulting in Government Failure: this result from what Fukuyama (2004) describes as the corrosion or breakdown of institutional infrastructures. The foundations of institutional framework in Nigeria are very shaky and have provoked a deterioration of state governance and democratic accountability, thus, paralyzing the existing set of constraints including the formal and legitimate rules nested in the hierarchy of social order. Evidently, as Igbuzor (2011) observed, the state of insecurity in Nigeria is greatly a function of government failure, or can be linked to government failure. This is manifested in the incapacity of government to deliver public services and to provide for basic needs of the masses. The lack of basic necessities by the people in Nigeria has created a pool of frustrated people who are ignited easily by any event to be violent. The argument here, is that, Nigeria has the resources to provide for the needs of her people, but corruption in public offices at all levels has made it impossible for office holders to focus on the provision of basic needs for the people. Hazen and Horner (2007) describe the Nigerian situation as a “Paradox of Plenty”. A situation where the country earns a great deal of revenue through oil sales, but fails to use these earnings to meet the needs of her people and to develop infrastructure as well as the economy. When these situations exist, crime rate is bound to rise and the security of lives and properties are in jeopardy.

Solutions to Insecurity in Nigeria

1. Abolishment of Bribery and Corruption and Entrenchment of Justice: Corruption is the antithesis of progress and development as it creates political instability, social unrest and crime infested environment, it breeds inefficiency, incompetence, mediocrity, unethical values and other negative instincts in man such as greed, malice, envy, avarice and rapacity, Anekwe, Ndubuisi-Okolo and Anigbogu(2015). Corruption is so entrenched and endemic in Nigeria that it has become a household issue and all elements of the economy are caught in corruption web, such that Nigeria ranked among the top ten most corrupt nations in the world (Onimajesin 2013). Corruption and injustice in Nigeria must be totally eliminated. Nepotism and a culture of impunity must also be eschewed from our national psyche and life to ensure national growth and sustainable development in Nigeria.

2.  Creating Employment for the Qualified Unemployed Youths: Social effects of unemployment include personal hardship, depression, decay of acquired but unused skills, involvement in crime (mostly among youth) as well as dispute among married people, delayed marriages among singles and sometimes broken homes. Joblessness of a husband can lead to infidelity of the wife. Unemployment increases governments‟ expenditure or transfer payments where welfare programs are implemented in favor of the unemployed. Effect of corruption is that it leads to a reduction in economic growth and development by lowering incentives to invest; it also leads to a divestment in such economies. Serious investors are always wary of offering bribes before being allowed investment rights or operational licenses. This is due to the fact that there is no guarantee that greased officials may keep their side of the agreement in case of contract breach, the fleeced investor is on his own (Eppele, 2006). To the above is the fact that foreign investors are also prone to withdraw their capital from a country with high incidence of corruption because the risk involved in doing business in such nations sometimes outweighs the benefits. Corruption contributes immensely to inhibition of economic performance; it negatively affects investment and economic growth, which is detrimental to national development. If corruption discourages investment, limits economic growth and alters the composition of government spending, it automatically hinders future economic growth and sustainable development. Unemployment must be seriously tackled and curtailed. The private sector must be encouraged and supported to create the much needed jobs. Constant electricity supply will no doubt boost employment and increase productivity.

3. Solidification of Security Personnel/Agencies: Training and retraining of officers must be carried out on a regular basis with special focus on human rights, weapon handling, communication skills, new interrogation techniques (torture is outdated), exposure to new equipment and technology.

4. Good Governance: According to Oluwarotimi (2012), good governance is the panacea for the insecurity challenge in Nigeria. She states that the war against insecurity would be won only by raising governance standards, which is, cultivating the culture of good governance where the government is responsible and accountable to the people. In her view, security engagement cannot be separated from good governance. Many others have also linked security to governance system. The general view is that peace and security is determined by good governance. However, as Oluwa (2012) has pointed out, good governance is a function of effective, visionary, transparent, trustworthy and credible political leadership whose driving force is an improvement in the collective well-being of the citizens through well-conceived, effectively implemented economic policies and human development programmers. The underlying principle of good governance is the focus on people as the ultimate objective of governance.

5. Accepting of Jesus as the Lord and Saviour of the World: Nigeria has continued to suffer simply because we have not only failed but also disappointed our maker. The Bible says in Hosea 4:6”My people perish for lack of knowledge. The Israelites suffered tremendously when jettisoned their creator. Let us draw closer to God since He is the way, the truth and the life so that all these predicaments barring us from attaining peace, unity and justice will be exterminated.

Conclusion/ Commendations:

Insecurity is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of both human and natural resources. Sequel to this development, it becomes imperative to strengthen the security system with all sincerity and doggedness that it deserves to make Nigeria habitable for indigenes and non-indigenes.

These recommendations are made in line with our observations:

1.  Government need to step up physical security measures around the country via the provision of security facilities and the development of stringent measures to be meted out on security defaulters. This implies that Government must be proactive in dealing with security issues and threats, through training, modern methods of intelligence gathering, and intelligence sharing, logistics and deploying advanced technology in managing security challenges.

2.   Government need to glance through the Nigerian constitution and ensure that the fundamental human rights are strictly adhered to especially the one pertaining to freedom of worship. This is because the major challenge confronting our great nation has correlation with religion.

3. Government are admonished to take the business of governance seriously and redress issues of injustices, victimization, marginalization, discrimination, security and also create a safe and an enabling environment for investments which will step up industrialization and sustainable development thereby enhancing the livelihoods of the greatest numbers of its citizens.

4. Government need to enshrine Security Management in School Educational curriculum at all Levels ranging from primary, school and Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria. This will enable children as well as youths to appreciate the relevance of security.

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