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Five Things Wrong With Nigeria’s Current Constitution And Possible Solutions” 



Nigerian Constitution


By Ogwiji Mary Onyemowo

This article discussed/identified ‘Five Problems of the Nigerian Constitution and proffered
solutions’. The topic is relevant because it addressed the challenges associated with the
Nigerian Constitution in contemporary times and how same has negatively affected the
society. The research was necessitated by the need to improve efficiency in the Nigerian
State through Constitutional reforms. The paper used primary and secondary sources of
literature (Doctrinal Method). The paper chiefly recommended that the 1999 Constitution of
the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be amended to reflect the practise of true federalism,
the secular nature of the Nigerian State should be maintained, community policing should be
adopted, the powers of the President should be redefined and the exclusive list amended to
grant more powers to the States and Local Governments.

  1. How did the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria originate?
  2. What are the problems associated with the 1999 Constitution?
  3. How can these problems be addressed?
  4. Constitution: A Constitution is a set of fundamental principles (Grundnorm/fons et origo)
    that govern a State or Nation. 1 Nnamdi and Sam defined a Constitution as, ‘A document
    containing the ways people want to be ruled in a territory, which defines the organs, their
    powers, duties and justice system’.
  5. Problems: These are challenges or issues of concern that are occasioned by certain
    provisions of the Constitution, or the absence of important issues that ought to be
    contained in the Constitution.
  6. Solution: These are proposals aimed at rectifying the issues/problems identified.
    Commentators in the legal and non-legal sectors have argued that the Nigerian
    Constitution is not a reflection of the will of the people and was not created by the
    people. Their argument is premised on the fact that the Constitution was enacted by the
    military government through a selected few, and as such did not capture the yearnings
    and aspirations of the heterogeneous groups in Nigeria.
    The military promulgated a Constitution that made the center very strong while the
    federating units were made to be very weak and reliant on the center, thereby creating a
    cosmetic federalism. Some of the problems of the Constitution shall be discussed below
    as follows:

a) Immunity of Certain Public Officers from Prosecution: This matter should be
approached with logicality. The Constitution in its provisions according to Section 308,
has declared the inability of any Court in Nigeria to compel the appearance of a sitting
President or his Vice and a sitting Governor or his Deputy. This also provides clearly that
the mentioned public officers are immune from any form of prosecution for the duration
of their tenure. The Immunity clause should be examined so as to provide a just and
equitable standard of responsibility for those in the highest positions of power.
b) The exclusive list is too bogus: The many items on the exclusive legislative list makes
the federal government to be too dominant, while the states and local governments
become unnecessarily dependent on the center. For example, in the allocation of revenue,
the Federal Government alone gets as much money as all the states and local
governments in the federation put together. What kind or federation is that in which the
states are made so subordinate to the central government? Under President Obasanjo
(1999-2007) for example, state governors were removed by the federal government under
the guise of fighting corruption and statutory allocation to local governments in Lagos
State were withheld for some time. Adequate powers should be given to the states and
local governments as security is better handled at the local level.
c) The Nigerian Constitution Contains Some Contradictory Provisions: The
constitution contains some provisions that contradict other provisions in the same
constitution. For example: The recognition of the Sharia courts contravenes the
description of the country as being SECULAR as done in the Constitution 3 . It is like
having two contradictory constitutions. Such Provisions of the law should be amended to
soothe the secular flavor envisaged by the law makers.
d) The Constitution is weak in the protection of socio-economic rights: For instance,
since the whole of Chapter Two of the Constitution is non-justiciable, it is as good as
saying the constitution has no provision for right to employment and free and compulsory
education. This shows only one thing; the constitution places little premium on the social
or economic rights of the people, making it a peripheral highlight in the constitution and
without the legal teeth. Such rights should be included as fundamental human rights in
the constitution.
It is submitted that the non-justiciability of these juicy provisions in chapter two is the
reason government continues to act in defiance of the Constitution. This I feel is the
major fraud in the Nigerian Constitution because Nigerians cannot seek redress, this has
to be amplified. The effect of S.6 (6)(C) flowing from the above; I further submit, is a
clog in the wheel of national development. It is pathetic to think that a breach to the
FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY does not call for any right or redress. I am of the opinion that this provision should be removed.
e) Centralized Policing Structure – By section 214 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria- There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be
known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other
police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.

The above provision is contrary to the spirit and letter of true federalism as practiced in democratic climes like the United States. It has hindered and will continue to hinder the growth and development of security amongst the federating units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is one of the major problems of the Constitution.
Flowing from the identified problems above, the following recommendations are made:

  1. That while public officers who enjoy immunity may require same from prosecution in
    civil cases, prosecution should be allowed should they fall short of the law in respect of
    murder, rape, sponsoring terrorism, homicide and other related crimes against the state.
  2. That States and Local Governments handle some items currently on the executive
    legislative list to enable them gain serious relevance.
  3. There should be religious neutrality in line with the secular nature of Nigeria as the
    Constitution stipulates. The Constitution should be amended and Sharia Courts should be
    removed from it.
  4. That the provisions of Chapter Two on FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND
    DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY be deleted from the Constitution as at
    this time, they only make this grundnorm bulky without any enforceability or utilitarian
  5. That police affairs be removed from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent
    legislative list. Almost all federations in the world have police affairs in the concurrent
    list. This is important because, a governor who is described as the chief security officer of
    the state should be in charge of the number one security outfit in the State.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the effective utilization of the Constitution as the most
powerful tool in the land can lead to economic prosperity, peace and unity. It behooves
the Nigerian parliament to take steps to amend the Constitution so as to transform Nigeria
from a cosmetic Federal Republic to a country that practices true federalism. This will
empower States to look inwards, develop their economies and to secure themselves.

  1. 1 Diane Goldie, ‘Introduction to and the Meaning of Constitution and Constitutional Law’
    <> accessed 12 January 2023.
    2 Nnamdi J Aduba and Sam Oguche, Key Issues in Nigerian Constitutional Law, (1 st edn, Nigerian Institute of Advanced legal Studies, 2014) 12.


Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
United Nations Charter, 1945.
Nnamdi J Aduba and Sam Oguche, Key Issues in Nigerian Constitutional Law, (1st edn, Nigerian Institute of Advanced legal Studies, 2014) 12.
Online Sources
Diane Goldie, ‘Introduction to and the Meaning of Constitution and Constitutional Law’
<> accessed 12 January 2023.

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Last Last Seun Kuti Becomes Obidient – Rudolf Okonkwo



Seun Kuti

Everything came together when Seun Kuti slapped a police officer on the Third Mainland Bridge.

Several weeks ago, in the heat of the 2023 campaign, I commissioned two social scientists conversant with Nigeria to help me map out the DNA of an Obidient. They went to work. Periodically, they sent me their findings. After stating that deep down, the Obidient movement is not about Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, Scientist #1 propounds that Obidients are desolate, dejected, and dislocated hitchhikers who saw a shiny wagon on a muddy road and hopped on. Scientist #2, on the other hand, sees them as reluctant anarchists plotting destruction in the bushes, only to be distracted by the sound of a noisy wagon full of hitchhikers enticing them to give the Nigerian project a final chance.

The first time they appeared close to a consensus was when Wole Soyinka intervened in the political process after the election in the infamous Datti/fascism debate. The team thought they had mastered the characteristics of the Obidient. They mentioned one particular trait, anger. They said that these were furious people who were also impatient. They compared them to one specific group during the Civil Rights Movement in the US that forced Martin Luther King Jr. to start to talk about the “urgency of now.”

The social scientists felt that the anger of these people steamed from years and years of being victims of the Nigerian state’s failure. The Obidients, the scientists, argued had become so disenchanted with their situation and the situation of their country that they have relegated the norms of their society to the back burner. They suggested that today’s global village offered new tools to these actors and amplified their sense of violation. When I asked for a better explanation, the scientists told me that what social media exposed them to about situations in other parts of the world heightened their expectations of their country’s leadership. Still, something in their pronouncements did not apply across the board.

Another case in point was when they used the example of Oby Ezekwesili’s intervention in the news story that Pastor Enoch Adebayo said that God would help the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, to fix Nigeria. For those who missed the drama, here is how it happened. According to a news report, Daddy GO sent one of his pastors to represent him at an event. When this little-known pastor, Dele Balogun, went, he read a speech. The day after, the newspapers reported what he said. And as it is tradition, they attributed the message to Pastor Adebayo.

Here is the exact thing Dele Balogun said. “Let us pray for the incoming government that God will support it and give it the Grace to do the right thing… Thank God the President-elect has promised to fix Nigeria. If God helps him, Nigeria will prosper in his hands.” The reaction of the Obidients was swift. They tongue-lashed Pastor Adeboye for keeping quiet when the elections were rigged, and voters were suppressed and killed.

Some people did not see anything wrong with what the man of God said. Any true man of God’s job is to pray for his country’s government. It doesn’t matter whether the government is elected, selected, or imposed.

Unfortunately, the Obidients do not pray like this. And they made Pastor Adeboye know that they don’t play like this.

Just like with Soyinka, the reaction of the Obidient shocked the political arena, including Obi himself. Peter Obi had to come out and disassociate himself from the tongue-lashing the Obidients gave Daddy GO Adeboye for daring to say what God told him. Obi even suggested that the people doing the bad stuff were disguised operatives from other parties trying to give his supporters a bad name.

For saying so, he got tongue-lashed by angry Obidients and supporters of other parties, from Reno Omokiri to Omoyele Sowore.

Even those who shared the news story were not spared. Former minister, Oby Ezekwesili, felt the need to defend Pastor Adeboye and to call Reuben Abati an unprofessional journalist and purveyor of fake news for tweeting the story. In the language of Obidients, Oby Ezekwesili called the story “utter rubbish.”

The social scientists agreed that there are numerous secret cells of Obidients across Nigeria. They said that the largest number of latent Obidients is in the North. They are waiting for a perfect trigger to coagulate around a mission, a name, and a movement. Despite the perception, the social scientists noted that the multitude of tomorrow’s Obidients in the North is not satisfied with their lives in relation to their peers in similar parts of the world. They agreed that a day would come when religion and tradition wouldn’t be enough to cage them and stop them from breaking loose and dethroning those who have diminished their lives.

“For now, it is enough for their leaders to point at others outside their region and blame them for the poor life they live,” the social scientists write. “That strategy is too old, but it is still working. But it won’t suffice for long. And when the North ignites, with abundant dry leaves, tears, and heartbreaks, there won’t be time to worry about trifles like respect for elders and constituted authorities. And the nation will be on fire when the North is on fire.”

In a pivotal reminder, the scientists pointed at Sudan, Egypt, and other Arab African states as examples of places where people who shared the same worldview as those in the North of Nigeria had stood up and demanded change. They believed that, eventually, it would get to the turn of northern Nigeria.

Peter Obi used to say that the society we abuse today would take revenge on our children. That was so yesterday. The new mantra is this: The society we abused yesterday is taking revenge on us. And one thing about revenge is that the first sign that it is in progress is that it decouples all the chains that connect it to a structured and functional law and order society. It baffles those who missed the cue, especially the elders, who are apostles of gradual and ordered transformation that will not upturn years of familiar social order and civilization.

In moments like this, philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, noted, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

Nigeria wrings everyone born and bread in it until they become an Obidient. Depending on the material one is made of, some transform after just one wring, while others require a lot of wringing, punching, and slapping.

For the social scientists, everything came together when Seun Kuti slapped a police officer on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos. For the first time, the two social scientists agreed – last last, Seun Kuti becomes an Obidient.

And this conclusion is one that both Seun Kuti and the Obidients will disagree on. And nothing is as Obidient as that.

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef” and “Children of a Retired God,” among others.

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Why Dr. Tajudeen Abass Top Agenda For The 10th Nass Speakership




By Prince, Oriri Richard 

The Nigerian National Assembly will officially be inaugurated on the 13th June, 2023 for legislative businesses to commence, having successfully completed the 2023 General elections and members of the both Chambers of the National Assembly of 469 members, have been duly elected from their various Federal Constituencies and Senatorial Districts across the Country. 

The hovering controversial issue among stakeholders of the various political parties before 13th June is the leadership  selection process of both Chambers. Who gets what, when and how, according to Harold Laswell’s definition of politics, has been the heated arguments amongst Nigerians.

Foreseeing that the polity would be overheated,  considering the diverse interests from the Eight Political Parties that made it this time into the Nigerian National Assembly, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress – APC, sometimes in March, 2023, said that the Party would work with the President elect to zoning the national Assembly positions.

On the 13th of March, 2023, the APC leaders and the President and Vice President-elect met with all Senators and House of Representatives elect on the platform of APC at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, where issues bothering on zoning were discussed and members elect were advised by the leadership of the Party to go home and wait for Party’s position for the Assembly leadership zoning before inauguration of Parliament.

On the 8th of May, 2023, the ruling party, APC, through its National Working Committee-NWC, came up with the zoning arrangement where the position of Senate President was zoned to South-South and narrowed down to Senator Godswill Akpabio and for the Speakership, the NWC chooses Dr. Abbas Tajudeen, a ranking member of the house of representatives, was chosen as Speaker from Kaduna, North-West and Senator Barau Jibrin, Senator representing Kano North, was selected as Deputy Senate President from Kano, North-West, while Benjamin Kalu, the  current house spokesperson, was nominated as Deputy Speaker from Abia State, South-East geopolitical zone.

Reacting to rumours that Dr. Tajudeen ABASS was preferred by the majority of the Southern lawmakers elect because he’s not from the North, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze, a renowned politician from the South-East, and an 8yrs State Chairman of APC in Ebonyi State and the National President of the newly elected members of the 10th House of Representatives, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu downplayed the issue. Eze opined that newly elected members believed in capacity, competence of aspirant with democratic leadership style, which according to him, can be attributed to Dr. T.J Abbas. 

In his words, “with Dr. Abbas’s democratic leadership style, which the new members have taken note of from his profile and other means of investigation, every member of the 10th Assembly shall be  given equal  opportunity to participate, exchange ideas freely, and discussions shall be  encourage on the floor of the house”. In life, the law of favour is Value and Competence. Dr. Tajudeen ABBAS has alot of values and competence to offers the new members and we want to leverage on that. He stressed.

On National unity, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze said there are broken walls and open wounds along religious and ethnic lines in Nigeria after the general elections. The Country needs leadership that can heal the common wounds and restore unity back, which according to Eze, are qualities the newly elected members have found in the right Dr. T.J Abbas. It will interest you to know that among all our colleagues aspiring to lead us, it’s only Dr. Abbas who has a Christian sister as his personal Secretary from the South-East and a Christian brother as his personal driver also from the South-West. This alone has shown to us how patriotic he is and what he can do if elected by the way of carrying all interests along in his leadership decisions. Eze opined.

Eze went further to reiterated that, he’s a Party man who will always stand by the instructions of the leadership of his Party. By the special grace of God, Dr. Tajudeen Abbas and Hon. Benjamin Kalu will be sworn in as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively as we go in for the inauguration on the 13th June, 2023. He reiterated.

Hon. Dr Abbas Tajudeen was born on October 1st, 1963 in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. He is an educationist and politician representing Zaria Federal Constituency in the National Assembly.

Hon Abbas attended Kaduna Teacher’s College (KTC) Kaduna, where he obtained a grade II certificate in 1981. His quest for further learning took him to the great Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he studied business administration. He graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree. In 1993, he obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. In 2010 he completed a doctorate degree in business management at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.

Hon Abbas was a primary school teacher from 1981 to 1988. In 1998, he became a lecturer at a polytechnic before moving to the Kaduna State University (KASU) in 1993. He taught at KASU until 2001. From 2001 to 2005, he was a marketing manager at NTC Plc.

Hon. Abbas was elected into the National Assembly in 2011 to represent Zaria Federal Constituency. He was re-elected in 2015 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).  

Honourable Abbas has legislative interests in: appropriation, finance, education, national planning, health and public procurement.

Hon. Abbas has served in various House committees such as National Planning & Economic Development, Public Procurement, Defense, Social Duties, Finance and Commerce. He also served as Vice Chairman at Legislative Compliance Committee from May 2011 to May 2015.

Honourable Abbas target as a legislator is to ensure that the Nigerian masses are better provided with the basic and sound

education, that the  resources of the Nigerian masses are better managed to provide essential services for growth and in the overall interest of every citizen.

Honourable Abbas has many awards & Honours. Some of which includes: Fellow of the Association of Hospitality Management of Nigeria, 

Best Head of Department – Kaduna State Polytechnic(1993), 

Best Service Manager – Nigerian Institude of Management, Zaria (2009).

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Time For Judges To Be Statesmen




As Nigeria wraps up its election, attention shifts to the judges. With over seven hundred cases filed at the tribunals, the judiciary will be overworked. Yet we expect wisdom, courage, and intelligence to correct all errors, deliberate or otherwise, made by the political branches of government. We rest our hopes on the judges, and their power of judicial review, to rebuke impunity, reverse error and strengthen us toward electoral justice.  

It is ironic that whilst we think that increasing involvement of judges in determining who gets elected as political leader is inimical to consolidating democracy, we are forced to continue to call on judges to intervene in electoral matters for the sake of justice. Of course, courts are called temples of justice because they are fit and proper to receive the intercessions of a people who are brutalized, oppressed, and deprived of justice. So, the irony is not so depressing because when we beckon on judges to act in the name of justice, we are giving concrete expression to the expression that courts are temples of justice.

The conventional theory of constitutional democracy holds that there are two political branches and one non-political branch. The political branches are the executive and the legislature. Members of these two branches are elected by the people and have the liberty to act in furtherance of their interests. The theory of representation by foremost parliamentarian and jurisprudent, Edmund Burke, is that legislators are trustees of the people. As trustees, they are free to decide public interests according to their own understanding of what is in the best interests of the people. A contrary theory of representation argues that the legislator is but an agent of the people: he must do what the people want him to do, not what he thinks is best for the people. Whether legislators are agents or trustees of the people, the common logic is that the legislator act politically. To act politically is to advance the interests of one group notwithstanding that such interest is not rationally compelling. That is why we do not excoriate legislators who fight to ensure that projects are sited in their constituencies notwithstanding that economic rationality does not favor those places. We consider them good representatives. But we shame a judge who delivers judgement in favor of his relatives because of consanguinity.

So, the judicial branch is not so designed. Judges are not representatives of the people. A judge does not represent his family, his friends, or his constituency. He represents God in the religious sense, or rationality in ultra-rationality. Judges do justice. And justice is giving people what they deserve, not what they desire. We can see from this social portraiture that judges have more gravitas and bona fides to act as statesmen in times of troubles than representatives and executives. As we say, politicians care about the next election, but statesmen care about the nation. Judges ought to be statesmen.

The concept of judges as statesmen has a strong implication for sustaining democracy in difficult times and places.  In good times and places democracy is safe even with interest-based politics. The foundations of democracy rest on the rule of law. The rule of law means that all persons and authorities are subject to the law; that the law respects basic equality of all persons and the law is executed without deference to prerogatives and merits, apart from the merits of justice. Overlaying the foundations of rule of law is accountability. There is no exemption from the rigor of the law because the institutions of law enforcement are professionally commitment to fair and equitable implementation. In such a society where justice is routinized in administrative practices, the court plays a passive role and is self-restrained. Judges merely adjudicate in matters where vagueness obscures fair and equitable administrative of justice by the political branches.

But in a society where justice is not routinized as administrative practices become of political capture by a powerful minority or a numerical majority, the court moves from passivity to activism to reestablish the rule of law. The legendary Justice Oputa put this pointedly thus: “Whenever the law is used to foster social, racial, economic or sex oppression, the judiciary should quickly intervene to redress the imbalance and thus restore justice”. The court does not act when justice is routinized. The court acts when justice is denied, especially when it is structurally denied.

This articulation of judicial activism bodes well with a powerful theory about the judiciary propounded by Harvard professor Abram Chayes. It is the ‘governance’ theory of the court. Chayes argues that the court has a right to govern just like the other branches of government when the other branches fail to do the job. Ordinarily, the court forebears to govern trusting the more ‘political’ branches to govern. But where the two fail to govern, the court steps in. Then, judges become statesmen. This explains the various curves of judicial activism.

US Supreme Justice Stephen Breyer traces the context of judicial activism in the constitutional history of the United States. He shows different periods when the US Supreme Court shifted the gear to promote justice or to disrupt structural violation of the people’s rights. For example, he argues that before Justice Warren, the US Supreme Court “overly emphasized the Constitution’s protection of private property ‘as against rights of political participation. In the Warren era, the Supreme Court interpreted the constitution to move away from the logic of property right in the Lochner v. New York case and find a basis in the constitution for ‘active liberty’ for citizens to govern themselves through the principle of ‘one man one vote’. By so doing, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren reconstructed the United States away from the legacy of Jim Crow.

The court is a political institution. So said Robert Dahl. The court is a political institution because of the role that it plays in the political management of the society. In his book about the Nigerian Supreme Court. Professor Isa Sagay paints a picture of the Nigerian Supreme Court that rose up to defends fundamental rights against the corrosion of military dictatorship. That heroic Supreme Court of Eso, Obaseki, Oputa, Uwais and others understood that in times of crisis the court become a political institution that defends the rule of law from new threats. The Uwais court would not have done such if the structure of justice had not been eroded by military dictatorship.

The greatest seduction today will be to believe that we are now an entrenched democracy and therefore the court should carve for itself a routinized retail work that does not override the iniquities of the political class. That is a recipe for disaster for the commonwealth and irrelevance for the court. The true description of Nigeria today is, as the University of Guttenberg’s acclaimed ‘Verities of Democracy’ report 2022 puts it, ‘an electoral autocracy’. Nigeria is not yet a democracy by the evident capture of state institutions by ruling elites. The 2023 election has further cemented this reputation. The election has seen the recklessness of Nigerian politicians who refuse to respect the most fundamental tenets of electoral democracy.

We have always had electoral irregularities and frauds. But we have never had this level of criminalization of elections and wanton collapse of regulatory oversight. The election manager, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused to apply its own electronic safeguards in a bewildering capitulation to political banditry. Even the basic regulatory tasks like determining the eligibility of candidates to stand for elections and whether candidates have multiple nominations, regulatory oversight that could be established without expending resources, were abandoned. The regulator did not bother to apply simple rules, even rules that it made pursuant to its statutory powers.

The Supreme Court has inherited the regulatory failures of the election manager. It has been saddled with correcting the impunity of the political class. It beholds that the country is disintegrating on account of reckless disregards for basic rules of justice. It sees the continuing immiseration of the people whose anger is boiling over. The judges know that unrebuked impunity has established a powerful incentive structure that will inexorably lead to the total collapse of the rule of law. In such situation, judges must become statesmen to save their beloved country. They have many things challenging them. They will contend with fear for their lives. They will contend with favors from corrupt politicians. But they should brush aside all these and do justice, even if the heavens fall.

All eyes are on the judges. 

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