Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

Toxic Ghost by Peace Habila-Okwoli

When it happened, I didn’t have the courage to lift my head for fear of becoming the meat on bloggers’ tables on social media. Picturing myself on each blogger’s page with captions like ‘Proposal Gone South’ and how they would add what didn’t happen to spice things up as well as attract the gullible kept me still. I would rather remain in this position: one knee down, eyes fixed on the ground and tears flowing like a river till the mockery-induced laughter and smirks fade away. I blame myself more than I blame Adunni who propelled me into this mess. I was too foolish to forget how she had jinxed great opportunities for me in the past. I hate her guts yet enjoy her company. She is my only friend and because we function like the negative and positive forces of the universe, I had held onto our friendship like life. On the day she got engaged, she couldn’t hide her displeasure over my inability to get Dayo to man up and put a ring on my finger. I recall how we sat on the floor like two hopeless birds mourning the death of the wind before she snatched us back to reality with “What if you propose to Dayo? It is the 21st century, girl” “Come on, my ancestors will disown me’’, I added as quickly as I could before her words settled in my bones. Days turned to weeks and I began to rationalize her suggestion. Dayo was beginning to act sweet. He was the sweetest shade of himself. Then the demon possessed me. ”Hello Dayo, do you have a minute to spare?”, I asked over the phone with the words quaking through my vocal cords due to fear. ”Sure, shoot babe’’, he replied swiftly. ”I want us to do dinner tonight’’, I added almost immediately. “Ok, I will pick you up after work. Our usual spot, right?”, He asked. “No! Dayo, I will send the address to you and I will find my way there, don’t worry”, I replied. ”Ok”, he said before dropping the call. Fear welled up from my tummy racing for my throat to choke life out of me. I wondered why he didn’t add the usual “I love you” closing. It got me anxious but the thought of wasting 10 years of my life and the possibility of another 10 gave me faint hope. I rushed to the makeup studio to fix myself. The red gown was perfect for the day because it was Valentine. When I was ready to step out, I loved what I saw in the mirror- I was intimidating to the eyes yet soft on the heart. Dinner was beautiful but the thought of what was ahead made me uneasy. Thankfully, he didn’t notice it. ”Dayo, I love you so much’’, I said as I let my feet enjoy the freedom of stretching. Like a robot, I walked to his side and knelt on one knee. ”Please, marry me’’, I said. ”Get up, you are embarrassing me”, he said. I asked again and again till my voice lost discretion and got people around clapping. Guess he really couldn’t take it as he hurried out, leaving me to my fate. I felt empty yet determined to salvage what was left of my self esteem. I stayed there for a while, enduring the arrows of shame and mockery that were directed at me. When my romance with fear was over, I started counting the feet of people leaving the restaurant. The restaurant was almost quiet when someone tapped my shoulders. I lifted my head to a cute young man urging me to get up. ”You have punished yourself enough’’, he said. He wondered why I allowed them to take pictures of me. His indirect speech confirmed my fears. The only available consolation was the hope that none of them got my face. I am Samson but you can call me Sam, he said as he disrupted the silence that had engulfed the table we sat at. One thing led to another and I found myself in love with Sam barely six weeks after meeting him. He wasn’t the conventional Abuja guy. I enjoyed his pranks and the air of mystery around him; it kept me longing for more. My mum was excited the day I told her about Sam’s proposal. I was over 40. That explained the over 1000 congratulatory messages that glazed my social media timeline. However, the low key wedding was disappointing to a lot of people. They expected us to throw a big party. My mother concluded that I was overprotective of Sam. “E no easy to see husband”‘was all I had the courage to say in response to her question. She had so many issues with Sam and how he couldn’t get his people to show up for the wedding but what doused her fears was that he was working on his papers to relocate to Canada. It was only decent to rush the wedding and process our documents as a couple. That explanation calmed a lot of wagging tongues. After the wedding, he moved in with me. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of joining him in a hotel where he had spent about 5 months plus. Like they say, marriage is an eye opener but in my case, it opened my eyes to the beauty of love. I enjoyed waking up to his bright eyes jealously watching over me. I felt so much in love and wished Dayo could get to see this in addition to knowing that I got married two months after he walked out on me. He was my world and I threw myself helplessly into his net of love. All was going well until this same Adunni called to register her concerns. ”I think your husband is a narcissist’’, she exclaimed. ”You are in his web o!” “Do you feel fulfilled?” “Are you truly happy?” “Can’t you see he has

Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

In Search of My Better Half: A short fiction by Chukwuemeka Oluka

Photo credit: freepik How the Durex Mutual Climax found its way to the ground in the full glare of introspective eyes is what beats my wildest imagination. Using his Instagram page, Aproko Doctor would preach against putting condoms inside wallets. He also discourages men from putting their wallets in their back pockets and then sitting on it. However, I would just laugh over his sermons and consider it all cruise. I love to put stuff in my back pocket notwithstanding. Especially my handkerchief. Though this would teach me a lesson I would never forget in a hurry. The moment I dragged the handkerchief’s tip to clean the sweat bubbles having a swell time on my face, the condom pack followed through immediately, like a child who would give the dad close marking to monitor when he goes out. I was still spreading the hanky generously on my face when an instinct beckoned on me to take a pause. I saw pairs of eyes locked on the condom. Their jaws dropped freely and their mouths went ajar. If I did not die that day in the mall, I might never die again. Shocking! I melted. I wish I could disappear. Many weird situations I have witnessed in life, but none came close to this. The other day, it was bedbugs. Yes, bedbugs! That day, I donned an immaculate white shirt with its crimson red buttons opened to the chest level. My pants looked sharp; razor sharp. The belt gripping my waist matched with the pair of shoes I wore. I also wore the costliest cologne in my wardrobe. I was giving fine boy vibes. However, all these meant nothing to bedbugs. Did I tell you I was heading for a date? She was already seated at the reservation. I joined her, ready to wear my heart on my sleeves. “Nothing will make this date go the path of the previous ones,” I said to myself. I was ready to hold this relationship so gently and tightly. It wasn’t going to slip off my fingers. The previous relationship before this didn’t last longer than an orgasm. It came crashing like a pack of cards because of the weirdest of reasons. She accused me of pressing the toothpaste from the middle and not from the bottom. Well, as we sat holding down discussions and waiting for our orders to be served, her eyes spotted two tiny creatures crawling out from under my collar. It was a white shirt, and this meant that spotting their movement was effortless. They moved haphazardly like male and female in a frenzy. They looked like tiny cockroaches. You would reckon the male was giving the female a last-minute chase for a mating session. The female stretches the companion to the limit to ensure the mating right is earned. Her attention was divided, but her eyes focused on something. We lost eye contact. I became worried. “Baby, what is it? You look so troubled.” “Oh… It’s fine” she responded. At that moment, Romeo and Juliet had found their way back under the collar. They were having a swell time with their relationship. Unknown to them, they were the village people sent to destroy mine. She wore red lipstick and the heart shape her mouth took while she sipped her drink kept me gazing at her with relish. Her face was moisturized and bright. I was making some mental pictures of how beautiful my children would look. One of her palms was placed on the table. I put mine over them and ran quick massages. Then I stretched my neck, ready to sink a kiss on her forehead, when she exclaimed; “Again? What are those things that keep crawling from under your shirt?” This time, they were three. There is no telling me it wasn’t kpakpangolo game they were playing. “Bedbug! Jesus! How come?” The moment she heard ‘bedbug,’ she froze. The glass wine she held, found its way joyously to the ground. “You nurse bedbugs?” “Babe, I don’t understand what you mean. Don’t say that,” I responded. She got up, dabbed her mouth with tissue paper to ensure the red colour on her lips was still within circumference and then she took a walk. I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t muster the ounce of energy to beg her to stay. It was our first outing and it ended in an embarrassment, not just for me, but also for her. As soon as I found my senses again, I dashed to the restroom, took off my shirt and closely observed it. I found a red coloured stain on the back of the neck. I had also seen a similar stain on the headrest of the bolt ride I booked. However, it didn’t catch my attention, as I was consumed by the wild thoughts of how the date would go. It dawned on me that the padded cushions of the bolt ride were infested with bedbugs. I might have snuffed life out of one of them when I rested my head on the seat. The shock and shame the incident caused me will never leave my subconscious mind. That was why when the Durex condom fell to the ground, it felt like a déjàvu. Another embarrassment. I felt like speaking to the ground to let it swallow me. Did I tell you I was carrying a bible? Maybe I should have rejected the condoms. Valentine’s Day celebration was counting down to hours, and that day, the NGO distributed free condoms as part of their enlightenment campaign for safe sex. After the 4:00 pm fellowship, I was heading for the mall when they foisted one pack on me; the way some kingdom preachers would foist gospel pamphlets on passersby. *** I resumed cleaning my face with the hanky, confused about the next step to take. Then, someone touched me gently on the back. “Have it” she encouraged me. I ran a quick scan of the faces of onlookers and summoned the courage. Everyone burst into laughter — hysteric

Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

Husband Ghost by Daniel Ogba

image credit: Unsplash Try as I might to deny it, some part of me knew Tobi was not real. It was a strong knowledge, couldn’t shake it off, no matter how many times I coaxed my mind with pep talks about not allowing the trauma of my past relationships ruin the one good thing I had going for me. No matter how many times I confronted him about it — how little I knew about him despite how long we’d been together, about how I feared that one morning I would awake to find straightened sheets in place of the slender, solid weight of his frame, and his palms would no longer slide into mine as it had every morning for the past nine months. He had laughed when I told him. His laughter, carried as if from a hollow, came to my ears, encircled them, slithered down the corridors with warmth so intense, powerful and complete with an assurance I could almost touch when he said in his sing-song baritone: “I will never abandon you, Ifem. You have nothing to worry about.” My previous partner had said the exact phrase to me. I will never abandon you, my light. I’d be directionless like the wind. But he’d carried his big head to go and die in a road accident while traveling from Enugu to Lagos, for what he said was a business trip. And at his requiem in his hometown(one of his coworkers, a friend, had taken me), I was bone-shocked to discover that the woman sitting behind the condolence table, garbed in white all-through was his wife, and that the three young boys surrounding her like soldiers, were his children. The trip he’d died making was in return to his real family for his wife’s PhD convocation at the university of Lagos. I had been enraged then, walked stiffly behind my friend in a queue leading up to the table. I contemplated telling the woman as I shook her hand that her husband was a cheat, and that he deserved to have died in such horrible manner. The line proceeded slowly, I fiddled the promise ring he’d fitted on my middle finger after a wild round in my house, the one he paid for in full with his money, finally taking it off, slipping it inside my purse before my friend left the table and it was my turn to offer condolence. I told her I knew her husband well, that we worked very closely. “I don’t recognize you. What’s your name?” A hint of suspicion danced in her tired, tear-reddened eyes. “Ifechukwu.” “Richard never spoke about you. I know all his close associates.” I wanted to say maybe it was because her husband thought telling her about me was like delivering arsenal into the enemy’s camp. He thought it best to leave me out of their conversations, smart, big-headed man that he was. He also never mentioned his family to me. He’d been good to me. It would’ve been senseless to ignite chaos. “I am deeply sorry for your loss, ma. Your husband was a seasoned professional at his job.” I discarded the ring as our vehicle sped past the undulating hills of Nike, folded up all the promises he’d taught my heart to believe. In my room that night, in the bed that had bore his weight, I thrashed madly about mourning something that wasn’t mine to mourn. * Tobi’s words buoyed me out of the morass I’d been wallowing in since he appeared in my life, held my arms and led me over the ledge, as I crossed from a world of skepticism into one where he was possible, where his presence was real as real can be — like the black mole on the arch beneath his right eye which I caressed on Saturday mornings that I usually woke up before he did, when he lay asleep undisturbed, as if in death, until it was noon. He was as real as the sweat that poured in rivulets down his back, denying me a firm grip of skin while he worked his weight above me; like the grunts and hot breaths that clung to my wet throat while we kissed, as my thighs vibrated from the ecstasy his hardness harnessed from my body. That, too, was real, in fact, I don’t think anything can be realer than an orgasm. Yet, the knowledge of his un-realness was a ghost that retreated into the shadows, because I commanded it to, never rearing its head for the longest time. But its presence was still apparent, lurking about. He owned only three shirts, three jeans trousers, a black tux, and a pair of canvas. When he moved in finally, two weeks after I asked him to, a month after we met at Ballroom, he came with just a carry-on slung over his shoulder. Nothing else. I thought he wanted to make it easier for himself to be able to leave me. Less load, quicker disappearance. I kept expecting to find more of his luggage occupying space in the wardrobe we shared. I kept expecting to wake up one morning, or return home from work one evening and not find the carry-on in the corner where he’d securely fit it on the top wardrobe shelf. But that never happened. And even now, I can see the bag, black and new, unmoved from its position. He’s no longer here, yet what belongs to him still is. I realize he’d taken to owning little not for himself, not because he was cunning and calculative of his plan to disappear after he tired of me. It was for me, to make it easier to forget him, to get rid of any physical memory that he was ever here. More bags, clothes, shoes, meant it’d be tasking to move him out of my space after he was gone. He’d left a note tucked in the side pocket of the carry-on, the white edge of the

Blog, Lifestyle, News, Writers

The Winner Of N100k For The 21-Day Challenge Is…..

Becky Peleowo! We had a peer review to select the winner of our creative assignment for the 21-day challenge on 7/01/2024 with the following criteria. i. No self-nomination ii. Nominate 2 ONLY and explain why they deserve the prize. iii. A tie will be broken by the publisher. After the contributions and nominations by some members of the community, Becky Peleowo and Victor Oladejo tied at 3 nominations each. Immigrants of the Turbulent Waters is a thought-provoking project that demonstrates Becky’s versatility as well as a testament to her progress in creating rich media content. Dear Netizens embodies Victor’s talent as a creative and its captivating cover image shows that our mantra of stacking up digital skills has been embraced by this young writer. As we agreed, the community will strive to reward the best works instead of paying out tokens to encourage everyone. Hopefully, we will start rewarding our intellect with millions of naira soon enough. To break the tie I considered participation and other factors but I will summarise my assessment by paraphrasing the honest appraisal of one of us. “Becky — I noticed that she attended the pre-21-day challenge meetings on Sundays and this helped her in chronicling her work. From her work, she worked on a vocalised poem and attended a skill acquisition which is a testament to her judicious use of time”  “Victor —  I like the fact that he listened to the advice to reduce his unproductive time on Twitter and created a work on Netizens. Hopefully, his next digital project will involve more forms of media production” The projects by Solomon Ekoja and Oluwaseun Osanyinro were equally good. We can be proud that our writers can now create multimedia content. It shows we have come of age. The baby step taken in 2020 has developed into adult strides that will eventually become giant leaps. The 21-day challenge will be a recurring fixture because it will form part of a digital product I’m developing. As we already know, the best part of our journey together is yet to come. By the end of January, we will meet again to chart the path for 2024 starting with our Book In A Year challenge which commenced in June 2023. I thank everyone for their support especially those who participated in this challenge. I’m fulfilled that we learned a thing or two. I also use this opportunity to appeal for more participation from our community. Happy New Year!

Blog, Creative Essays

Commentary On My Digital Product by Oluwaseun Osanyinro

1. Journey in the Media Unit: As time marched on, I discovered something big — more significant than just crafting digital stuff. It’s the power of being there, doing your thing, day in and day out. The power of consistency. This realization hit home when I joined the Media Unit at Living Faith Church, Total Garden. Being consistent in creating digital products for all sorts of church happenings helped me grow big time in content creation, social media vibes, and even a bit of graphic design. The once naïve content writer could finally create digital products worthy of commendation. What can I say helped? Time and consistency. Thinking back to my first week in the unit, I was no digital wizard. Writing was my comfort zone. A safe place, a hiding place. But, you know what? Curiosity kicked in, and I couldn’t resist diving into the world of graphic design. Maybe the creativity pulled me in or the play with colors and shapes that produced captivating designs. My environment, the Media Unit, encouraged my new-found passion. There was always something to create. A design to invite members and newcomers to church, a design to summarize the service, a design to invite members to concerts or children’s parties etc. Every task I embarked on brought me closer to competence. Fast forward a few months, and I was not just jotting down sentences during sermons; I was diving headfirst into creating cool graphic designs, empowered to create compelling digital products. Last Sunday was like a highlight reel of how far I’ve come. Two assignments, limited time. But my time management skills, which I’ve been polishing up, kicked in. First, I soaked in the Pastor’s words, capturing those moments that hit deep. After a bit of proofreading, which I did meticulously, I worked my magic with Adobe Photoshop, turning those phrases into eye-catching sermon notes. Posted them on social media with a short caption, and to top it off, a reel on Facebook. Our church activities never looked so vibrant. The likes and comments were testaments. https://web.facebook.com/reel/367643412612744 For the other service bits, CapCut was my go-to for editing videos, throwing in some tunes, and sharing them online. My digital creations became the life of the party for our church happenings. Nowadays, I use CapCut to create birthday shoutouts for members of my church and to celebrate notable milestones. 2. The 21-Day Writing Challenge: Ever heard that you can make or break a habit in three weeks? Well, that is what Cmonionline’s 21-day writing challenge was all about. It happened at a time when my phone decided to go on vacation, whether I liked it or not. At the start, I had no clue what I was getting into. Balancing work, writing, and keeping up with online posts was a bit like juggling flaming torches. My writing prowess was taking a hit. I have had my fair share of disappearing acts — sometimes for a month or a few weeks — usually when life gets a bit too crazy. But this challenge was different. It was a learning rollercoaster, all thanks to the writing community. In our second meeting, we dug into Hal Elrod’s “The Miracle Morning.” It struck a chord with me. Taking charge of the day in the first 60 minutes — meditating, exercising, jotting down thoughts before the world wakes up. A way of staying consistent as a writer before the crazy day kicks in. It’s become my secret sauce, making me better at tackling the day. Now, what happens after the 21-day challenge? Can I vanish into thin air forever? That was the ponder as we ended the challenge. Buffer — the secret weapon our convener dropped on us answered my question. It’s a game-changer, linking all my social media, scheduling posts, keeping tabs on engagement. It’s like having a reliable sidekick, making sure I don’t ghost the online world for too long. I usually say What you don’t know is your older brother. I was elated and tried my hands on it and within an hour, I made my first post simultaneously to my Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages. On improvement, I would say I am already on my way. Having a faulty phone has helped me realize I could do well without a mobile phone on me at every minute of the day. I would love to cut down more of my social media activity to certain hours of the day and spend my time on productive activities such as getting a certification in creative writing and plot. In all, I would always thank Cmonionline for his passion for building a writing community not after prize money only but becoming better writers daily. It was three weeks I would not forget in a hurry.

Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

A Commentary On: Dear Netizens by Victor Oladejo

Victor Oladejo has written an e-book and you can read the pdf version of DEAR NETIZENS here. Enjoy his commentary below. The best part of being a writer is not the writing itself, but the people you meet along the way.~ Stephen King. The Cmonionline community has been a home for me since I published my first work and whenever I think about my journey as a writer so far, this quote at the entrance of this essay beams with more meaning. In this community aside from giving my work a home on the website, the leadership has presented different opportunities in terms of cash rewards, workshops, and great seminars. I could recall that sometime this year, we had a meeting with a ghostwriter on how to ghostwrite. The opportunities here, I must say, are tremendous. The last community program we had this year, 2023, was the 21-day challenge. Here we had live sessions that I benefited from, also we were taught how to organize days in routines. For me, during the 21 days of the challenge, I participated in, I learned many things that inspired my digital product. One of which is time management. During one of the life sessions, I explained my social media life and everything about it. During the live session the coordinator, the founder of the community, Odogwu Cmoni helped break down what I should know in terms of time management and what I should stay occupied with online. Surprisingly, the need for the experience came in handy for my digital product. In the digital product I used my experience online and the lessons from the 21-day journey to weave a guild of three suggestions, however, other processes were involved in its creation. Aside from burrowing from the experience garnered into the process in the course of the 21-day challenge, I developed my ideas using research that involved other cultures like the Japanese work ethic, and the Latin wise sayings. The Japanese lifestyle intrigues me because of the discipline associated with it, if you read Tony Robbins’s book: Awaken the Giant Within, you’ll have come across the word: Japanese miracle and how kaizen a concept that translates as continuous improvement helped them, hence the reason I included Kanban in my product, I believe this would spark a light of curiosity into this amazing culture in the reader. As for the Latin words, I have a personal liking for words that originate from this place. I believe in the process of studying an important concept in two different languages, the understanding would slip in on its own. The writing process of the product was the bulk of the Job. The target title of the book was the first thing that woke my muse. At first, I thought the Netizen was a Nigerian slang until Mirriam-Webster shocked me. The writing process involved creating the drafts, fleshing them out, and with the help of Bard Ai, I corrected some sentences and punctuated the words in the digital product. Also while I was writing, I was careful to ensure the digital product covered social media life and time management with the three suggestions to the best of my ability at the time of production. As for the book cover, I applied my knowledge of Graphic Design to the Book cover design by adding the image of a lady lost in her thought with some social media icons floating about, this message here is that we have people who use social media and they spend most of their time in it as they shuttle from one platform to another in pursuit of trends. I also added links to related websites to the digital product to ensure the readers can have further knowledge on the central topic of the guide. I believe this digital product: DEAR NETIZEN, will help the readers manage their time on social media and see changes in their lives just like I have seen changes in my social media life, especially my timeline on Twitter and the 21-day challenge has improved my online presence as I now control my online presence. However, I still have to work on routine and time management as it is a continuous process. Also, least it slips away, in the challenge I explored the book creation and I discovered a new approach to it before I conclude this write-up, I would like to implore the readers to go through the ebook and put it to great use, also feedback is appreciated as they encourage me to write more.

Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

Commentary on my Digital Product : Immigrants of the Turbulent Waters by Becky Oludayo Peleowo

                                                                                                            I  I recall that the first time I became fully conscious of illegal migration was when I heard a first-hand story from a victim at an Illegal migration awareness conference, where I had accompanied some secondary school students to listen to the dangers of this shady business. The stories I heard that day tormented me for months and strengthened my resolve never to be desperate about leaving Nigeria. It was even more a resolve not to seek permanent residency in any country outside the coasts of Africa. You can say I was traumatised by the stories I heard and you would be right. Who would not be after hearing such gory tales?  That resolve waned with time but I would still vehemently discourage illegal migration. Many Nigerians are unaware of the peril that lies ahead of going through unauthorised paths to a foreign land. Many lack an international passport but will fall victim to agents who promise to take them abroad with seamless efforts. My commentary centres on this persistent challenge as the Japa Syndrome due to the financial crisis and insecurity in Nigeria is on the rise.  The 21-day self-evaluation exercise organised by the Cmoni group required us to do away with bad habits that were affecting our productivity and build new and better ones. Luckily I was taking a digital marketing course and the time I used to chitchat on social media was channelled into this course and also on writing in a platform, (Nircle community), where we had to write on different prompts monthly – For instance, December’s prompt is water. What could I write about water?  First I had to complete my Capstone Project for the Digital Women Boot Camp, then to make this commentary and finally to submit my entry on the prompt in Nircle Community. Merging this task was herculean for me but since one of the skills I tried to improve on during the 21-day retreat was time management, I decided to work on a vocalised poem as my digital product. The poem was my entry for the Nircle Community. I recorded the poem as a voice-over track, then used some stock and personal images to create content that emotionally appeals to the public. I used the Capcut app to achieve this and the experience of creating and editing my design was an exhilarating one for me.  The topic, “Immigrants of the Turbulent Waters” was chosen because I had to write on water and secondly because of a distant relative who was reported to have left Nigeria through one of these illegal means and her immediate family had no information on her whereabouts. A neighbour also shared his brother’s pathetic story on the same topic. Drawing my inspiration from these situations, I linked water to illegal immigration by sea and then I wrote a poem for the Nircle Community and made a vocalised poem in video form for my Cmoni Project, using the skills I had acquired from the Digital Boot Camp. Now I have one theme presented in different forms. You must be thinking of the cliche, “Killing two birds with one stone.” That’s just what it is!                                                       II  During the 21-day disengagement exercise, I acquired digital skills. I learnt Search Engine Optimisation, Google Analytics, Social media analytics, and web analytics amongst others.  Currently, I have confirmed my Google website and am already taking measures to increase the visibility of my business in search rankings.  Just like I mentioned earlier, my time management skill has improved. This makes me more productive and gives me a sense of fulfilment. The above-mentioned skill could not have been achieved without the Pomodoro app – Focus and Google tasks.  Regular writing on the Nircle app and reading from other writers expanded my knowledge, especially in poetry and non-fiction writing. Writing more often is one of the target skills I had to improve and I achieved this and got rewarded for my effort. I was able to read often too but this time my focus was on the resources for the Digital Marketing Course. I am glad to say I completed the course and I am looking forward to my certificate, a document that will propel me into the digital jobs sphere.  On improvement, I would love to spend less time using my mobile phone. I noticed that my daily dealings revolve around it. I’m already using my laptop for journaling but then the portability of the mobile phone makes it a better option. The time away from this device will be spent on family bonding. 

Blog, Opinion Articles, Writers

Subsidy Brouhaha And The Way Forward by Solomon Ekoja

After the last general election that ushered in the Government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I never for once thought the country would receive a surprise package during the inauguration speech. Since I wasn’t invited to attend the occasion at the Eagles Square in Abuja, I glued to my radio set and internet facility to catch a glimpse of proceedings. As I followed the salutation and other nitty gritty of the speech, this part hit me like a volcano… ”We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime, which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor. Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead, re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.” This was not what the majority of Nigerians expected to hear. For me, the news hit me considering the economic situation of the time. After the speech, fuel stations in my town, which had been selling their products the previous day, shut their gates and stopped selling. When they later resumed sale, a litre of fuel skyrocketed to 500 naira to the amazement of many Nigerians. Although the removal of the subsidy on fuel has tremendous benefits to the nation’s economy, the manner in which it was done showed a lack of empathy and consideration for the common Nigerian. As I joined my peers to discuss the issue, the majority were of the opinion that it was an ill-timed policy while a few hailed the decision as a bold step in the right direction. On my path, I believe the removal of the subsidy was good but should have been done in phases to cushion the effect on Nigerians.  In phase one, public services like public transport facilities, government-owned pump stations and local refineries should have been first set up before the partial removal of the subsidy for six months. Thereafter, phase two would have involved the granting of friendly licences to business tycoons to woo them into the local refining of crude oil to create competition. With this achieved, fuel subsidy would have been removed completely without much hassle. The above idea would have created a balance in the economy and assisted Nigerians to seamlessly adapt to the change. Well, the bathtub is already dirty but we can’t afford to throw the baby away with the dirty water. Hence, the need to analyse the effects of the subsidy removal and proffer a way forward. Positive effects *The major gain of removing the subsidy is the freeing of resources for other sectors of the economy. According to the Presidency, Nigeria was able to save $1.32 billion since May 2023 after the subsidy removal. The fear among Nigerians however is whether the funds will be judiciously used to cater for the populace. *The subsidy removal also acted as an incentive for domestic refineries to produce more petroleum products and shift the attention of our economy from importation. *With each state earmarked to receive aid and other palliatives from the Federal government to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal, more job opportunities have opened up, especially in the transport industry. *Through the subsidy removal, there will be a reduction in the yearly budget needed to run the affairs of the country. This will help the country to cut down the cost of governance. *On a funny note, the removal of subsidy has increased the level of daily exercise among Nigerians. Before the subsidy removal, Nigerians especially those in the working class found it difficult to exercise themselves through trekking but with the subsidy removal, many are resorting to trekking and bicycle use for short distance trips. Negative effects *Due to the subsidy removal, there has been an exponential increase in the prices of petroleum products. A litre of fuel now goes for around 600 naira as against 185 naira. The ripple effect of this has caused inflation and reduced the purchasing power of consumers. *Social vices, crimes and protests have become the order of the day since the removal of fuel subsidy. With many Nigerians unemployed in the midst of the current hardship, they are tempted out of a quest for survival to be involved in activities capable of frustrating the peace of the nation. *The subsidy removal has reduced the standard of living of many Nigerians as many now scavenge to survive. *There is an increased rate of mortality among Nigerians in current times. Since people don’t have enough to pay for their health care, they succumb to death in the process. The way forward *Since the fuel subsidy removal increased the cost of living for many Nigerians, there is a need for the government and employers of labour to increase the minimum wage of workers to enable Nigerians to cope with life. *Friendly petroleum refining licences should be granted to investors to boost local production and make crude oil products readily available for all. This competition in the long run will lead to a reduction in the prices of petroleum products. *Government-owned petroleum station needs to be built across all communities in Nigeria to take the products closer to the common person. When this is done, the managers of these stations should be discouraged from hoarding the products but encouraged to sell at fair rates. *Alternative means of transportation like electricity and solar-powered cars and trains should be made available for Nigerians. This will help in shifting our focus from petroleum products to renewable energy thereby, reducing climate change and creating environmentally friendly jobs. *The provision of social amenities like schools and hospitals should become a priority for the government in this era of fuel subsidy removal. This could be achieved through the rechannelling of money saved from the subsidy to the above-mentioned areas to make life comfortable for Nigerians. *Since wants are insatiable, Nigerians should be taught about how to use limited resources to

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One More Push: A Poem by Solomon Ekoja

Century after century Year after year Nation to nation And village to village The story’s the same One more push Always makes the difference The corridor of history is laden With multitudes who lost Coz they threw in towels That should have wiped away Tears of travails In seasons of breakthrough Few though In spite of failures Took steps further Until just a push Engrafted their names In the sands of history Imagine roses without thorns And life without troubles It’ll be like an empty sack Expected to stand erect Without grain Life’s beautiful And exudes essence When we overcome challenges Trying times abound Like morning dew On the mountain top That fades away When the sun of faith Rises from the east To cast its illumination Brightly with patience Just as mistake is part of life To ere is human When you fail Don’t remain in despair Dust yourself Get up! And have a retake In the monotony of pain A prize lays ahead Thomas Edison Though a renowned inventor Had several slices From the bread of failure A man with flesh and blood Like you and me Refused to doubt Like the doubting Thomas Nine hundred and ninety nine trials of his Birthed the light bulb That illuminates our world Abraham Lincoln Another worthy model For the present generation Thinking of giving up Kissed defeat severally Like rails On a magnetic track Through persistence One more push Paved his way to the presidency When there was no way Sarah A portrait of perseverance Though stricken in years Got strength to conceive Isaac The son of promise After one little push In the direction of promise Anna The prophetess Though a widow of many years Never stopped interceding With fasting’s and prayers When things looked bleak Until the messiah was born Elizabeth Though barren Gave in one push After Gabriel’s message To birth the forerunner John the Baptist Hellen Keller Though blind and deaf From a tender age Accepted her condition And little by little Became the first deaf-blind person To obtain An arts degree Despite piles of failure Give it a trial Maybe another strategy A little push Harder than the former Maybe another pull Like the force of gravity Maybe just a row Like the nursery rhyme In the right direction That’s all you need To rewrite the pages of failure In the leaves of life Till the boat anchors On the shores of success With a book titled “A man who never gave up” Don’t give up Forget giving up Never ever, give up Quitters never win Winners never quit It’s too late to give up Coz all that will settle it Is just one more push.

Blog, Opinion Articles, Writers

Notes On Nigeria by Victor Oladejo

“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character…” Chinua Achebe ( The trouble with Nigeria). Writing about Nigeria is a duty if not a burden for Nigerian writers, we do this at a point in our lives, at times with articles, discussions with friends at meetings, with our social media handles ( for netizens like me), whatever way we choose to tell the story of a land filled with honey yet plagued with unending mysteries called Nigeria, we are contributing to her stories, a map for patriots to seek out whenever they try to get a grip on their beloved country. This essay is my little contribution and I would try not to mix it with my sentiments as best as possible. Whenever the question: what is wrong with Nigeria comes up in my discussion with people, I love to pitch my tent with Achebe, hence the quote at the entrance of this essay. The leaders are the problems of the country, why? This question can only be answered by the archives of history. In 1914, the southern and northern protectorates formed Nigeria, this decision was taken by the then-British lords and a few native people, on behalf of a people from different backgrounds, religions, and ancestry. The question at this juncture is: was the regional system of government practiced before on a good course for the people? Yes, the evidence is there to serve as answers, the exponential growth of each region on their resources and pace. However, as I said earlier, the leaders of this land in their “wisdom” decided to create a new path, a journey filled with potholes and a marriage that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Nigeria became Independent from British Colonial rule in 1960, the country became the envy of the world. Predictions poured in from all corners and a dream of a greater country formed in the minds of Nigerians. These dreams however became a nightmare when the military coup of January 15, 1966, took place. This coup however was interpreted differently by the citizens, the greater part of the populace agreed that it ended the corrupt leaders of the country, while the other parts believed it had another agenda which was tribe related. There is no doubt it was tagged an Igbo coup. Either way, it gave birth to other coups which eventually led to the civil war. The Nigerian civil war which lasted from 1967 to 1970 was a scene of casualties by military machinery and manpower, targeted destruction of properties, and the weaponized starvation of the Igbo people of the then Biafra. The war in its wake, became a dark spot on the already soiled dress of the relationship between the major tribes: Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. This spot would spread into the fabric of Nigeria and mould the trajectory of governance in the country. We would agree that the leadership system of Nigeria would learn from her dark past and seek out a new path of governance for her people, but the reverse was the case. Many will argue that Gowon tried to rebuild burnt bridges but how true is that claim? The payment of 20 euros to a part of the Igbo population who had just left the ruins of war is a great example of his failure, this in no measure slowed down the progress of these people as they struggled to start all over again. The Gowon government recorded a rise in corruption among the military officers which in many ways contributed to the emergence of Muritala Mohammed in a bloodless coup. The Murtala regime however was short-lived, and from here, there were changes from military to civilian rule as Nigeria strived to find a balance. I won’t dwell much on these changes because I prefer to discuss civilian governments that are relevant to where we are in Nigeria today. President Obasanjo was the first democratically elected president in 1999, the government based on projects and policies is said to be one of the most successful governments in Nigeria, however, there were flaws in this government, one of which is the response to the crisis of attacks by militants in the Niger Delta on oil installations. The Obasanjo in 2006 declared a state of emergency in the region and military actions that affected the civilians and the hunted militants continued until late 2009 when amnesty was introduced. The effect of the mismanagement of the crisis aside from crippling the economy to an extent contributed to a rise in militancy in the region which Umar Yaradua inherited in his government. The political climate during Umar Musa Yar’adua was a peaceful one save for the management of the militancy in the Niger Delta region admits other issues, the continuation of the amnesty program is a commendable part of his policies, the Freedom of Information Act also created a sense of transparency in his government, however, his reign was short-lived and we were ushered into a very dark rollercoaster. After the death of President Yar’ adua, his vice: Goodluck Ebele Jonathan took over, but his government was plagued with different roadblocks some of which were a fall in oil revenue, poverty, and corruption at its peak. It is this government that we witnessed the infamous Diezeni Allison-Madueke, the minister of petroleum who embezzled over $ 20 billion dollars based on missing funds from the oil sector, inflated contracts, and kickbacks from oil companies. This government’s weight on the Nigerians’ necks led to their call for a messiah party, which APC ( All Progressive Congress) tried to fill by contesting in the 2015 general elections. President Mohammed Buhari’s government lasted for eight years, which was characterised by a rise in poverty, insecurity, insurgency and corruption at its peak. The call for a savior arose once again and at this point, I participated for the first time in a significant political decision of this country.

Blog, Poetry, Writers

My Father: A Poem by Emmanuel Enaku

As I sit here, trying to string in words, my memories run wild, Going into overdrive because of what you meant to me. You were an embodiment of virtue, my friend and paddy. You were my strength and my everyday inspiration – Through you, I saw a better version of me. Your words numbed my worries — my pain and frustrations. Your voice was always soothing, a healing balm to my wounded soul. Kyita, you represented everything I aimed to attain. My role model — an embodiment of masculinity, you were. Humility and sociability were outstanding qualities you possessed. Oh, kyita! When the world was cold, you provided sufficient warmth. When I was unsure, you gave me clarity. When I was broken, your gentle pat on my bare back – Was a reliable adhesive for my broken pieces. Osofo Adaduro! Mesuga Ehalelo! Sweet father! You gave me fish and taught me to fish. You provided my needs and showed me how to do same. Your love and support had no end. You taught me to be strong and brave; To never give up and always be true You taught me the value of responsibility. Oh, my father, my hero, my rock! You were by my side through thick and thin. You guided me through life’s maze, With wisdom and patience, you always knew. Your words were strong and freshly baked, You instilled strength with every word you spoke. The pride in your eyes and firm handshakes when I succeed, Your firm grip on my arms and comforting hugs when I stumble. You were my compass, my light in the night. You motivated me to strive, to reach for the sky. You showed the way with your own wisdom and love. Your hard work, modesty and generosity still have no rival. You captured my heart from the start, Before the time I knew how to say your name. You showed me what is wrong and what is right, Your instructions have been a detailed map. What should be my praise of you, Nnayi? What would I praise you for? I am left confused because your every quality was a treasure, You were a scarce and priceless jewel. What should be my praise of you? Would it be your work ethics? Or your heightened sense of responsibility? You were just perfect, the best among the best. My father, the social lion! You were always so lively in our conversations, With wit and sometimes with guile, you set me laughing. You sense of humour was beyond compare; You were quick with a joke, a master of fun. Everyone loved you, you were number one – So full of glee, you were a sight to see and a wonder to associate with. To my father, a man of love and grace, I’ll forever be grateful for all you’ve done; Not just to me but our family as a whole. You were our anchor when the seas were rough, You were there through it all. I am your son, we are always as one Without you, I wouldn’t stand tall. I Love you with all of my being.

Blog, Poetry, Writers

Sailor: A Poem by Victor Oladejo

The day the trees bore me died, I, the son, stood on the edge of the cliff of my mountain and peered At the wreck of my ship, The ship that carried me there. My ear became a palace of voices, Voices that danced with promises made of glass: “We will help you,” one said. I guess that was my uncle. “We will shelter you,” another said. That was my aunt. But they shattered while I held them. So I set out to sea alone, My head filled with memories of nights When I tasted gold with my fingers And birds marveled at my joy, A sun-bright like the Sahara’s. Blood is thicker than water, This mantra escaped from my lips. For where is blood when a brother cannot deliver a brother? I closed the door of my heart to love, family, friends, and foes, And I surrendered myself to wander in the symphony of life. It was a journey filled with many crossroads Until we encountered Sade. That very hall was filled with golden light, Drowning us in its powerful radiance. The sun itself was a witness to a beginning And a promise stronger than glass. You taught me what it meant to see your butterflies unfurl And search the mystery of your garden. I started dancing before the hides of my drum knew The palms of my hands. Suddenly, I knew which map to follow. The journey of my life started. For in your love and warmth, The tides of my life said yes, To the wheel of my ship. ii Yesterday I woke from a dark dream filled with forgotten voices, my heart a swinging pendulum begging for comfort, then I felt your fingers on my neck, the tips searching the maps on my skin, I turned to hold you, to feel you, to grasp you with the excitement trapped in the body of a man who stumbled upon a pouch of gold in a lonely field. But they retreated into a frustrated clinch. You were not there; my treacherous mind was at play again. I find solace every day in the calls we share and I read our messages again and again, taking each word slowly with the elegance of a lead dancer in a troupe in service of a king. I savor them and get lost in them, but they are never enough. They say time creates despair, I find those words true, The last letter you wrote from America ended with: I can’t wait to return to you. Those words made my mind tingle, and I decided to write this ode about you, my light giver. I am not so good at the game of waiting, I fail terribly when I try to sit in the shade of patience. I struggle every minute to express what my mind can’t express and these words that bear no comfort but endless trials at consoling a mind that refused to be consoled. I need you here, I need you today, but I can only wish.

Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

Meeting The Mysterious: A Tale Of Fear by Victor Akintomide

“Some truths are best left in the dark”, John silently reminisced. The night was pitch black, and a heavy mist hung in the air as John made his way through the dense forest. Being a seasoned adventurer, he was well-acquainted with the wild, however, this forest felt different. It carried an aura of dread that clung to every tree and rock. “Must be because of the rumours that surround the forest”, he thought to himself. In his subconscious, he knew he ought to turn back, however, his curiosity got the better of him and despite the chill that ran down his spine, he pressed on, determined to uncover the truth. As he ventured deeper, the tall trees seemed to close in around him, their branches forming grotesque shapes in the moonlight, as though the forest was conspiring to keep its secrets hidden. His footsteps were muffled by the thick carpet of fallen leaves, and the only sound that broke the silence was the distant hoot of an owl. John’s heart raced, and he wondered if he was making a grave mistake. Yet, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something extraordinary awaited him. After what seemed like an eternity, John reached a small clearing bathed in an eerie, bluish light, and there it was — an ancient stone altar, covered in moss and vines, with a peculiar, glowing symbol carved on its surface. His breath got caught in his throat as he realized that he had stumbled upon the heart of the mystery, so while approaching the altar, his senses were on high alert. As he got closer to the symbol, he felt a strange warmth radiating from it. It was both inviting and foreboding, like a siren’s song drawing him closer. He couldn’t resist the urge to touch it. The moment his fingers made contact with the symbol, a surge of energy coursed through him, and he felt a connection to something beyond his comprehension. It was as if he had awakened a dormant force within the forest. Panic and awe warred within him as he struggled to comprehend what was happening. At that moment, a soft, melodious voice echoed in his mind, soothing his fear. “Welcome, Seeker of Truth”, it whispered. “You have unlocked the gateway to the unknown.” John’s heart pounded in his chest as he tried to respond, but his voice failed him. He could only think, “Who are you? What is this place?” The voice in his mind replied softly, “I am the guardian of these woods, the keeper of its secrets. This place is a bridge between your world and the realm of the mysterious, and you have been chosen to witness the truth that others fear, you must first face your deepest fears”. As the words faded, the forest seemed to come alive around him, the trees swaying in a rhythm that matched his racing heart, the ground trembled beneath his feet, and the air crackled with energy. Suddenly, the mist thickened, shrouding John in a swirling, suffocating haze. Shapes moved in the fog, indistinct and menacing. Although the voice had warned him that he would have to confront his fears, he hadn’t expected it to be immediate and so terrifying. Out of the mist emerged the figures of his past, twisted and grotesque versions of people he had known and loved. His mother, who had passed away when he was a child, appeared with hollow eyes and a skeletal grin. His former best friend, who had betrayed him, stalked towards him with a malevolent sneer. Tears welled in John’s eyes as he faced these phantoms of his past. They accused him, taunted him, and reminded him of his failures and regrets. He wanted to run, to escape their accusing gaze, but he knew that he had to confront them if he wanted to unlock the truth. With every step he took towards his fears, he realized that they were mere shadows of the past, twisted by his own insecurities and guilt. As he confronted them head-on, their forms wavered and dissolved into the mist, leaving him feeling strangely lighter. He felt changed, as if he had shed a layer of his old self. After a while, the mist receded, and the forest returned to its eerie calm. John stood at the altar, still tingling with the residual energy of his encounter with his fears. “Well done, John”, the voice said gently. “You have faced your fears and emerged stronger. But your journey is far from over.” “What more must I do?” he asked the voice, his voice steadier now. “To uncover the truth, you must journey deeper into the heart of the forest”, the voice replied. “But beware, for the path ahead is treacherous, and the mysteries that await you are both wondrous and terrifying. You will need courage, wisdom, and an open heart to proceed.” With renewed determination, John set forth once more, guided by the glowing symbol on the ancient altar. He noticed that he could hear the forest whisper its secrets to him, and so he listened with rapt attention. He encountered strange creatures that seemed to be guardians of the forest, each testing his resolve and offering cryptic advice. Days turned into weeks as John delved deeper into the forest. He faced trials that pushed him to his limits, confronting his deepest fears and doubts at every turn. Yet, with each challenge, he grew stronger, and more attuned to the mysteries of the forest. One night, as he camped beneath the star-studded sky, the voice in his mind spoke again. “John, you have come far, and have been found worthy. The time has come to reveal the ultimate truth.” John’s heart quickened with anticipation, for he had journeyed so far, faced so much, and he hungered for the answers he sought. In a flash, the forest transformed into a breathtaking spectacle of colours and shapes. It was as though he had stepped into a realm beyond reality, a place where

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Ode To A Demigod: A Poem by Chukwuemeka Oluka

[I] O demigod, to know you is to know the finest You may not like these expressions, But I’m sorry, I just can’t help it though Mortal and near celestial realm, Clothed in flesh, breaths air of gods You are neither God nor man Half human, half deity, your power sprawls through Who can find me a demigod like you? Who shall I compare thee with? Shall I compare thee to a mere creature? With divinity, I dare compare thee? In realms where mortals dare to thread, My demigod, for my sake, emerges with might Two hearts united has one [II] You showed up when all took a walk In my dark tunnel, you were the light at its end In emotionally telling territories, you were there Trapped in an unhealthy world, I heard your advancing steps You gave me support without asking for it You, the winds beneath my wings, Made me fly from weakness to strength Burdened with a load of care, near, you were Amidst the conflicts, you gave me comfort My cross seemed heavy, you lent your shoulders The darkness grows thick! The dead-end calls In loud quietude, your soothing voice is heard Like the nightingale, it calms the soul, And the dark currents lose their strength [III] Only a demigod understood it all For my gain, you fought my pain How do I deserve the love? I ask In your warmth, I feel calm; I feel light From zero to hero, my tale unfolds With power from deep within I see you O, you commune with humans and gods You mediate, you make them one! Three! You reconcile their raging differences The boundaries you blur, you bridge From Olympus to Earth, you melt the divide You travel the mind with thy might With all thy being and congregation No one communes your splendour [IV] For your company, I sold solitude to a hermit Because I trade not the laughter you bring In the colours, your story is told You paint them in myth and legend Your glory adorned with white and gold The joy it radiates, evergreen In my heart, it shone like a screen The talking drum you beat They wagged their tongues in bits The talk of the town you became To set their dark muse aflame I, a constant guest, when the king dines What more can I say when you desire no praise My thanks, my debt, I will pay [V] Whenever push comes to shove, When upon life’s billows, you face a troubled sea Your demigod, shall I be seen Our estates will groan in love I will travel the length and breadth For you deserve better than just an ode

Blog, Poetry, Writers

Don’t Give Up: A Poem by Victor Akintomide

He toils night and day, under the whiplash of the sun, He thirsts for something more, something that slips out of reach, It writhes and crawls, the harder he tries. Treading along the steep road, under the grey skies, He searches for something more — something that disappeared into the fog. “Oh please, we have come a long way, let’s return”, his inner self laments, An endless tunnel with no light at its end is what this is, Take a look at the past, and you have a beautiful sight, But he thought, “A little more, and I just might” Yet while pressing on, the fog only got thicker and thicker. Doubts engulf his mind, he fights to see through, Through the shroud of uncertainty of what could be. The urge to rest drags his feet down, he could stop now, After all, the journey ahead seems endlessly long. Yet, the longing for what could be pulls him. Trying harder and harder, the goal appears farther, The weight of the lonely journey seemed to dawn on him. And with the thought of impossibility came despair, Mixed with the fog, leaving no room for repair. Yet words of encouragement were nowhere to be found. The silence of that desolate place deafens him, yet he yearns for a voice, A voice to lend him a sight to get through the fog. In the face of despair, he searches for his own inner light, With every faltering step, he digs deeper within, With a newfound resolve that burns in him, he pushed through the fog, Each step, a testament to his will — a will forged in the smithy of trials. In every heartache, an assured comfort, In every doubt, a renewed passion. In every heartbeat, a whispered prayer, In every struggle, a heart that cares. T’was a melodious melody resonating in his mind, And with every step, he found the strength to transcend. Falling, in itself, is a phase of life, one that will surely pass, What is unforgivable about it is giving up without a fight, So rise and shine, for in the symphony of life, you are but a note. Let your voice soar, let your fears go, Overcome, reach for the peak, Silence doubt with an endless streak. “Tough times don’t last; only tough people do”, This is a common saying, unequivocally true. So no matter what things may unfold, Never give up on your dreams untold. For when you think you’re far from the end, A brighter future awaits, right around the bend. Men, they say, are the custodians of favour, But yet, favour works for those with equal fervour. Needless to say, the world itself is a battlefront, A stage play where you have no choice but to perform. So, you need to put in an effort to make you stand out, Else, when your time comes, it will find you knocked out. The world around you might feel dark and bleak, And the path ahead, very hard to see, But remember, only the strong and meek, Can rise above, and set themselves free. Then, in the end, when the battle is won, You’ll stand triumphant, under the sun.

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