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I want to see a Nigeria where injury to one is injury to all – Jude Imagwe

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Imagwe

Jude Imagwe is the senior special adviser (SSA) to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Youth and Student Matters. He spoke with our reporter on his job, his relationship with the President and more.

Each time you win an award, what always comes to your mind?

It is an award for the collective youth of Nigeria. I know it is not every youngman or student that can walk into an event and pick an award but each time I get one, even if my name is tied to it, I believe it is for the future of this country. It is an award for all the youths and most importantly one to tell people that from nobody you can be somebody if you have the commitment that Nigeria must move forward.

You harp on the fact that from nobody, you can become somebody. Is this your story?

In life, you cannot write off anybody irrespective of his background because you are not the maker of the person’s fortune and future. The statement is a clarion call on young people, on people that feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel; it is a call on them to wake up and find out that you must be serious with whatever you are doing, you must be prepared to take a step and no matter how difficult it might be, take a step first. It may lead you to your future, or to something you least bargain for, but above it all, take a step.

How has being a part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government affected your personality?

One of the major things it has done to my person is that I am beginning to look at life from a different perspective. Most people who know me very well will tell you that I have become a strong advocate of one Nigeria, of peace and above all, I have been an advocate of young people realising that we cannot criticise at all times and believe we can get the desired result. Yes, we have a duty to reject certain policies, but it is also our duty and responsibility to proffer solution. If I say I do not like something, it is not enough for me to destroy it. That I do not like it does not mean there is no solution to it.

Tell us about your new programme, “If I were the President?”

The programme will kick off in September, and it was designed because I think it is time for us as Nigerians to start to see ourselves as presidents of this country. If we see ourselves as such, we will realise that the country belongs to us all, and if we practise that ideology with all sincerity and patriotism we will find that there is no man outside the country that can celebrate our country more than us. It is just like telling somebody to write about you; he cannot write it better than you will do. So, the programme is called If I were the president. Today you are not him, but if you were him, what would you have done in regard to the decisions this Present president is taking. When people begin to think from that angle we will begin to have respect not for who is seated there but for the seat itself, knowing that you could be sitting there tomorrow. President Goodluck Jonathan never thought that he would be there some years ago but today, he is there. It is just the same way many young people today may not bargain for it and may eventually find themselves in that position. Divine providence is always there and President Goodluck Jonathan cannot be there forever as president. He is obviously going to leave there someday, so someday somebody from the crowd will sit there. So, if you were the one what would you do. Being in government has also thought me patience. As activists, we always believe we can get things done our own way. How do I mean? We don’t even border to know why policies are formulated. All we know is that it is a policy against humanity, it is a draconian law, it is a policy that we condemn in its entirety and the next thing you hear is, “greatest Nigerian students” and we shut down the system. But I have come to realise since I got into government that there is no policy that anybody will wake up and make out of wickedness. The implementation might not go down well with the people, but such policies before they are rolled out, people have sat down and thought about them. The countries we celebrate today, their citizens have paid one price at one time or the other, their leaders have paid a price to either conform to it or to say this policy will not work and this is the one that will stand the test of time. I have also learnt that at all times, one must continue to respect God and must be close to him because you sleep and wake up every day. If you don’t appreciate it, when you go to the cemetery and you see dead people covered there, and you realise that they once had dreams too, they dreamt so many dreams and they hoped they were going to achieve them, but look at where they are today. So, if you have an opportunity today, you must make the best of it. I have told people that I do not have a business being a billionaire, I have said it and I am proud to say it, but I have a business making people one. It is my joy to see people happy.

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How do people appraise you when they meet you? Is it as senior special adviser to the President or as Jude Imagwe?

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Anywhere I go, I walk in as Jude Imagwe; I do not walk in as the senior special adviser to the President. Jude Imagwe is my name, my identity and what I should protect at all times. People that have used it before now didn’t tarnish it, so I shouldn’t during my own time. If my younger ones decide to spoil it then the choice is theirs, but for today, I have to protect it.

Are you living your dream by working for the President?

I am still young and it will not be too far out of context if I state clearly my age. On Thursday, July 12, I was 35 and I try to ask myself how I got to where I am this quick. I did not expect myself to be where I am today, and in the same vain, I do not know where I am going to, but I know that God is pushing me somewhere, but where it is, I do not know. The only thing I can state clearly is that I wake up in the morning and I go to morning mass, I am a Catholic and I don’t play with mass. I can wake up in the morning around 5 a.m. and go for benediction and mass. I lead the day the way it comes with prayers and hopes that I could impact in the lives of people but what I will become tomorrow I do not know. It is God that will decide and it’s only him that will push me to where he desires, I don’t have the right to choose for him, all I hope he will do is to order my steps. My dream is rooted in the hearts of men who believe we are equal not only in the sight of God but that all Nigerians must be treated with equally. Your right to retirement after 35 years, to owning a duplex and a company should not infringe on the rights of our brothers and sisters or those of us, who come from a poor background, to retiring and owning a house that will accommodate their families. And your rights to cater for your family should not infringe on the rights of those who will retire and still have people to take care of. It is simple; your right to drive a brand new car should not infringe on that of the man who wants to drive a fairly used car. That is my dream. I want a Nigeria where everybody will be happy, where an injury to one would be an injury to all and, above all, I dream of a nation that will be the giant of Africa and will be the most respected country in the world, a country where we are not only the leader in Africa by our economic endowments, our population or by our wealth, but by the ideas we proffer and by the direction we give to Africa.

How often do you travel out of the country?

I am a pan-African; I believe Africa’s wealth should be shared by Africans. And if you steal from Nigeria, don’t go too far with it. If you can’t invest it in Nigeria, you must invest it in Africa because the wealth is from the continent, it is for people of the continent and it should be enjoyed by them. It amounts to the highest level of wickedness to rule us, steal from us and give our money to people who do not value it.

Are you endorsing stealing in government?

This people steal with impunity and you can’t run away from it. There are certain things you don’t pretend about. I am a very practical person. There are things you don’t run away from; when you say stealing, it is not only at the government level. There are people in government that do not have business with corruption, from our various houses we steal, in churches, and in the market. If a taxi driver knows that from a location to the airport is 10 minutes and he should charge you three thousand naira, but because he wants to take advantage of the fact that you are a stranger, he charges you N7,000 and takes you through a longer route, that crime is more than that of a man who is seating on a chair stealing. What we should condemn strongly is anybody supporting stealing, but if for any reason you have an opportunity to steal you must invest it into the system. It is wickedness for you to steal money and take it to a country where you don’t have access to it.

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It is one thing to be Mr. President’s adviser and another for him to listen to you; does he take your advice? 

I don’t look at the President in his official capacity most times, I call him a father because we had a cordial relationship before my appointment when I was the president of National Association of Nigerian Student (NANS), and I must say this without mincing words, it is not political, it is not self-praise, I feel that Nigeria is blessed with a President like Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Do you know why I say so; he is a man that if you are close to him, you will share in his passion and dreams of wanting to transform the country, to leave a mark that will be remembered tomorrow. For any policy that is about to be formulated especially the ones that affect young people, I am usually consulted. He will ask me, as a youth you go to the field and interact with all these people, how do you feel about this, how do you view this. If he is not a father, he will not do that. That is why I have continued to emphasise that leadership and representation are two different things, you could be a president and you don’t have the leadership quality and you could be a leader and you don’t have the opportunity to serve, but the overall summary of it is that if you are a leader you must know that you are the father of many people. He looks at issues practically and takes them as if those he is discussing with are his children.

What is your office doing about the plight of unemployed youths? 

People keep asking this question about unemployment, but it is a global thing, it is not a problem that is peculiar to Nigeria, but one that cuts across board. We too as young people must make ourselves employable, we must begin to develop capacity, we must begin to build ourselves because you go to some areas and they tell you for 30 persons that have come to be employed they have nothing to provide or offer. Market people are looking out for something to buy and those who are selling their products are looking out to get people to buy their products. So, if you say you are looking to get employed you look for what that company requires and use it as your edge. From our office, we have strongly worked with Sure P and youths in Agriculture, but I really feel that government alone cannot tackle unemployment. We must tell ourselves the truth. Young people too must start thinking outside the box, think of those things we have not been exposed to. So many of those things we rush to acquire today in our country are things that were developed by young people of other continents. So we too must begin to think of how to design things; how to improve on things and, above all, how to make change because if you say government should take care of unemployment, selected people will be employed. We have a population of which over 70 million are young, agile and full of energy to work, where are the jobs to accommodate 70 million people? We don’t have them, but we have so many other things. We should be proud of the things we have, most young people don’t want to go into farming; young people don’t want to start small. We, as young people, must encourage investors to come in, we must encourage foreign organisations to come into the country and the way to do that is by stopping violence. It is just like a man in Borno State saying he does not have a job, how can he have one when he has chased off all foreign investors. Government has its responsibility and the citizens have theirs too, which is to behave well and encourage investors.

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News

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING, SANWO-OLU TELLS NEW POLITICAL APPOINTEES, PERM SECS

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Victims

…Gov: You Are Brought To Add Value To Service

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has charged newly appointed members of Lagos State Cabinet as well as Commissioners in the State’s civil service commission to kick off action immediately.

The Governor said this on Monday at the Lagos House, Alausa during the swearing in of three new members of the State executive council, members of the Civil Service Commission and five Permanent Secretaries.

In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu urged the new appointees to further add value to the administration toward delivering democratic dividends to Lagosians.

The Governor said the new appointees were called to serve from the pool of numerous competent and highly qualified Lagosians, saying they must work hard to justify the confidence reposed in them with the appointment.

He said: “You have been brought on to add value in our quest to deliver the dividend of democracy to the citizens. We are pushing the emblem of our party and we have started implementing several programmes under our project T.H.E.M.E.S.

“We must remember that in four months time, we will be celebrating our first anniversary.

“The question that people will be asking is that what have we done in one year? Time will come and time will go but it is what we do with time that prosperity will judge us with. The essence of this reminder is to keep each and everyone of us on the go and to let you know that we need to hit the ground running.

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He added: “We cannot afford to be complacent in our approach to governance because there is so much to be accomplished within the 1,460 days that we are rushing against. We cannot afford not to succeed because our success has indication for the mission’s wellbeing. We owe it a duty to live up to the reputation of centre of excellence through the injection of innovative and visionary ideas into governance.”

The new political appointees are one Commissioner and two Special Advisers, who will be joining the State Executive Council. They are Engineer Paul Bamgbose Martins was sworn in as the new Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Mr. Gbenga Oyerinde is Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business District and Mr. Ganiu Adele Ayuba is the Special Adviser, Urban Development.

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Also, Mrs. Regina Fabanwo was sworn in as the new Chairman, Lagos Civil Service Commission along with Mr. Adeshina Odeyemi, Honourable Avoseh Suru; Hon Kamal Olorunoje and Barrister Babatunde Seriki who will serve as Commissioners in the Commission.

The five new Permanent Secretaries are Mr. Olujimi Ige, Debt Management Office; Mrs. Kafayat Ajenifuja, Parastatal Monitoring Office; Mr. Hakeem Adeniji Oduyinka, Office of the Civic Engagement; Mr Isaac Olushina Thorpe, Ministry of Information and Strategy while Dr. Aina Ayoola moves up as the PS Primary Healthcare Board.

The Governor reiterated his administration’s determination to ensure that it delivers time bound and people focused programmes that will positively impact Lagosians on a daily basis.

Earlier, the Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, described the Governor as a team player, saying it was in this spirit that he appointed more hands to further deliver on the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda of his administration.

The occasion was graced by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji; past and present members of the Federal and State House of Assembly and well wishers of the newly appointed members.

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Opinion

Rivers APC Crisis: I Advocate for Peace and Not Attack as Way Out

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Russia

Politics like life is always in a state of constant evolution. The way that things were, back in 1999, changed in 2007. Governor Odili and Omehia found this out the hard way. Since then, things did not stop changing and it’s now a lot clearer to many, that power of incumbency alone, is not enough to guarantee outcomes. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. Not even second terms. More and more people are beginning to have a say. Odili did not choose his successor, Amaechi suffered a similar fate, let us see what happens to Wike.

I’ve been known to speak my mind in the past. Today is no exception. I’m doing so today, not to offend, but to reveal a foundation and maybe even a possible solution. Today I just want to talk about the opposition in the opposition and by that I mean the current politics of APC in the Treasure base of our nation, my own dear Rivers state. Let me start by saying that my own position on recent events is already on record. Though I stand with Amaechi, on two distinct occasions since Hon Igo Aguma’s open letter to the APC National Chairman, I have stated that even though I do not agree with some of what he said, nor his approach, my default position is still peace, not to attack Igo and defend my leader. There are many others who can do that. That’s easy. The position for peace is the one that is very hard. Wayne Dyer once said, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” Talking Peace with people you don’t agree with is not easy, but that is what peace talks are designed for. They require big doses of patience, temperament, maturity, forgiveness, love and plenty selflessness. Not a long list of qualifications many have time for anymore. But Igo and Emma are my friends, and Amaechi is my brother and our Leader. We have to find a way.

The Bible in Matthew 5:9 said “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” In the Bible, this is the last of the 7 beatitudes Jesus handed down to us that define the character of a Christian. It is also the hardest. I am reminded by something Thomas Watson said. He said “Satan kindles the fire of contention in the hearts of men and stands back and warms himself in the heat.”

My exact words in response to Igo Aguma’s letter were: “Granted not all of what he said will go down well with many of us, but he spoke some hard truths and the minds of many silent others. As leaders we must learn to listen. Roy T Bennet once said that just as you should not let compliments get to your head, don’t let criticism get to your heart.”

I then went on to say that “I don’t want another disagreement to lead into a crisis and so on my part I will work for unity and a new style of conflict resolution. We are where we are today, as a party and as a state because of choices that we made yesterday. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

So there you have it. My objective is a different result from 2015 & 2019. Not a peace built on any terms. That would be way too easy, unrealistic and completely unsustainable. The peace I am referring to is a lot more sustainable. I want to see if we can co-exist. Make no mistake, I see no short term reconciliation here. The mistrust is deep seated and well founded. On all sides. Hence I must say it upfront, such a peace will be very hard to achieve. Many of the leading actors are pretty stubborn.  They either don’t mind seeing APC lose in Rivers state again for a third time or they believe 2015 and 2019 cannot be repeated in 2023. I for one am not familiar with what it is that they are drinking. In the case of those who are the optimists, I also want some. A close look at Psalm 55 reveals a deep insight into what we are all going through. I implore us all to read it.

Many well meaning people frown at peace as an option. That is because to some, they are tired of betrayal. A war is now their way forward. While for some, peace means giving up something impossible. There are many benefits in war. There are many reasons why good people make wrong choices. It’s important not to generalize or to be too quick to be judgmental. On all sides. Let me start by explaining why these options are not necessarily the way forward and why we absolutely need peace. This advisory is for all of us.

There are 3 main reasons:

1. We have powerful enemies outside of the state and inside the state. Not everyone can love you, but why make it automatic? Stretch out your hand for friendship whenever you can, at least on your own terms. One, you lose nothing. Two, any image of you as the unfriendly type, unwilling to embrace peace, evaporates. This is politics. Perception matters. I learnt that from Atiku.

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2. Your powerful enemies inside the state will join forces with your powerful enemies outside the state. Such a collaboration is not what you want to encourage. I admit it has already started, but you should be reducing their numbers and the impact, not underestimating it or even adding to it. Peace plans include such strategies. Never take any thing or any one for granted. I learnt that from Tinubu.

3. Today’s politics is edging towards consensus building and less of the carry go. The vocal minority are more protected in this government than ever before. If the electoral act is amended, expect many more exhibitions of democracy and more examples of unbelievable compromise. In other words do not underestimate anybody. In 2015 and 2019, APC in Rivers state did. Two different powers at the centre yet, same result. We not only underestimated our opponents in other parties, we underestimated our opponents inside our party. Especially at the National level. I learnt that from INEC.

The price of war is higher for us. We pay more in so many ways on many different fronts relative to our political opponents. Even if you compare us with Wike. We don’t need to. Even before 2007 it’s been one war or the other, all at the national level. With local players doing their bidding. Conscious or not.

Their aim is to show we’re disunited and we have been helping  them out by proving it. On the TV, with our back and forth abuses, on the radio, in newspapers, on social media and in beer parlors. Not just here in Rivers state, but across the region, nation and everywhere. The state of Rivers is now synonymous with conflict. Who is this truly helping? Who is it empowering? Certainly not us. Our supporters are in penury. If 10% of the money we spend on war was invested in our supporters, we would all be in a better place today. That I learnt that from the media. In all its forms.

Let me address a few myths:

1. They are sponsored. Don’t have the facts, so I cannot speak to it with authority either way. But if they are, prove it and discredit them with a neutral audience, if necessary. Otherwise consider that they may have their own agenda and are looking for a sponsor. By making them an issue, you increase their value. Many a good thing is achieved without noise while children are sleeping. In the end, we can agree to disagree. Liverpool and Everton football teams can’t stand each other but they live in the same city and conduct themselves in public as professionals on the field. Politics too is a game. Of interests. It is possible to have opposition in your space and still co-exist. If you beat them fair and square at a congress or an election, life will not need to come to an end. Why can’t we focus on that? Especially if you are a Liverpool.

2. They are irrelevant. Really? Is that not what put us where we are today? I have no doubt in my mind that Amaechi is the most popular politician in Rivers state as I speak. Anyone with a different opinion is welcome to visit a psychiatrist if he or she pleases. So why has his personal choice not won the elections in 2015 and 2019? Is it because he himself did not run? No. After all we made it about him. Less so in 2019 yes, but still. The answer my friends was it’s because we underestimated the opposition, especially within us and the key relevance of our institutions. Everybody knows someone and indirectly, information is power. I learnt very early on in my political life that it’s not always about numbers. It’s about relationships. Ask Hilary Clinton. She had 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. But who ended up as President? She underestimated him. Never make that mistake. That I learnt from my father. He told me not to believe in my breakfast until I’ve eaten it.

3. The other one is “Your people are with you.” Maybe. But this constant war war war is simply designed to shake foundations. China avoids wars while they build strength. Not because they are scared, but because they are smart. If one can avoid a war, let’s do so. Wars will come eventually. At least in politics it’s a minimum of once every four years. That’s more than enough. If you end up spending more and more on wars and yet more wars, how do you lift your people out of poverty at the same time? You can’t. Therefore you will struggle and by that, you will struggle to keep them. The APC in Rivers state has no elected official in a position to cater for the grassroots. Appointees are underwhelming. Yet the vast majority of our supporters stick with us. Let’s not take this for granted. Perhaps they know that a Minister is not like a Governor. Perhaps they have learnt to fend for themselves or perhaps they just have faith. Maybe all of the above. For us to take Rivers politics to the next level, we have to measure our progress by how many more we can add to our fold and not how many we can keep from leaving. I learnt that from Amaechi.

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My sense of observation is even more keen now that I’m recovering and seeing things from a distance. I’m convinced that the biggest challenge we have is internal. There’s an old African proverb that says, if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm. Many of us appreciate this, but few of us take the time to really think about what it actually means. If we did, we will not be surprised to know that you are the greatest enemy of you. Once we begin to see sense in that, we start to open our mind to other people’s varied contributions because we recognize that new ideas contain new solutions. This is what we need to do more of. God did not give us two ears and one mouth for nothing. He expected us to listen more than we speak. I still remember Obama in 08, in his first election victory speech to Americans, saying he will “listen more, especially when we  disagree”. I was there on that cold night in Chicago to hear him say the words. Are we here, not also sophisticated enough? Obama taught us a lot of things. Politics is one of them.

I see brothers and sisters on the same side of a divide even now, attacking each other because of different views on how a similar problem should be approached, only to forget about the problem and commence to labelling each other as to who is more loyal. To what end? It doesn’t make any sense!! Unless you give different views an opportunity to be heard, you will only hear the view of yes men and women. How does that help us? Healthy debate is the birth place of good ideology. That I learnt from both Amaechi and Alaibe. Igo and Emma spoke the minds of even people who are abusing them today. I know this because I speak to all. They won’t go public, because they see how Igo and Emma are treated. While the treatment is expected by virtue of the way Igo and Emma chose to go public, we miss an opportunity to learn very valuable lessons if we simplify that event.

Conclusion: Somebody in Abuja, preferably the Senate President, should call a meeting of the key players, to iron out a way forward, devoid of legal hindrances and anti party activities. The work before a meeting is called, should be just as thorough, as the work required after it. This is politics, so conflict is second nature, as is suspicion. No need to surprise anyone. Consult before making the first calls please. Rivers state APC has only one Leader. Nobody here denies it. Let’s accord him that respect as he has earned it, while respecting others too. In my opening statement I said take no one for granted.

While we wait for Abuja to do the needful, let us all in our own way, apply ourselves to a new approach where finally the true enemy of our progress is tackled. I joined APC to help them win because I believe in the men at the top that run their affairs and I believe that compared to the PDP, they are the only other option out there, there is no choice. While we succeeded nationally, here in Rivers state, we did not. We must all learn from history or else we again will be doomed to repeat it. Our opponents have sympathizers. Why? Let us do a self assessment and make changes were possible. Engage new leaders, engineer more grassroots activity, invest more in young people, position new field generals, reward hard workers and recruit new members. This might save us a lot in war funding, media expenditure and legal bills. If we’ve considered the above and still can’t make progress, then we can go to war. In such circumstances, I will be one of the ones in the front. Some of the people making the most noise now could not deliver their LGAs in the last election and have little or no electoral value in the next one. Let’s be careful in choosing not only our fights but also our fighters.

Thank you and let us pray that this is indeed a Happy New Year.

To be continued ….

Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill

APC, Rivers state

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Politics

Kayode Akiolu’s Heart Of Gold

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Kayode Akiolu

 

That the true nature of a man is yet unknown until he becomes rich is a popular Yoruba saying.

However, there are people who never change the course even when they become rich.

Kayode Akiolu, a member of the Federal House of Representatives has stayed the course he has maintained for a long while.

A man with a heart of Gold, the younger Akiolu has always been known for his philosophic gestures towards the less privileged even as a lawyer. It was this spirit that saw him grow to where he is today, as members of his constituency maintained a man who could help with his personal resources would do more given the opportunity.

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Since becoming a politician, Akiolu has not changed his ways, as he continues to help the needy also orchestrating the life of the younger ones.

His was like the proverbial knight in shining armour when he recently visited the duo of Araromi Baptist School and Ereko Methodist School as part of the Snack For Thought initiative of the Lagos State Government, promising the students books, stationeries, computers, toilets and many more.

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On the day, the lawmaker, as usual, won the heart of the students of the schools he visited.

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