The Excuses (For Failure) Are Hereby Made By Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe
Columnist: 
Okey Ndibe

I had a remarkable telephone conversation with a Nigerian editor a few weeks before Nigeria’s 2011 general elections. The man, a strong supporter of Goodluck Jonathan’s, rang specifically to whip up my enthusiasm for Mr. Jonathan’s candidacy for president. I demurred, and took care to explain why I was far from impressed.

“Jonathan has been Nigeria’s acting and [with Umaru Yar’Adua’s death] full president for a year,” I reminded the editor. “He has nothing to show for it,” I argued. “So what’s going to change if he gets elected?”

My interlocutor, without breaking a stride or adjusting his tone, said: “Jonathan has done little or nothing because he’s serving out Yar’Adua’s tenure. Once he gets his own tenure, he’ll do great things.”

“Are you serious?” I asked, shocked by the sheer illogic of the man’s claim.  

He was, he assured me, and then proceeded to lecture me on [what some Nigerians would call] “the realities on ground.” My friend’s peculiar argument was that Mr. Yar’Adua’s inner circle would have felt affronted had Jonathan tried to accomplish anything. That’s because Mr. Jonathan was still on Yar’Adua time, and needed to respect Yar’Adua’s do-nothing agenda. According to the editor, members of Yar’Adua sanctum sanctorum would have been driven to venomous rage if President Jonathan had sought to work, work and work instead of remaining in snooze mode. “Yar’Adua’s people would have finished Jonathan,” this friend surmised.

“For doing some of the work that needs to be done in Nigeria?” I asked. “For taking on tasks that cried for attention – and for accomplishing a few things?”

“My brother, you don’t understand how Nigeria works,” the editor said.

It was a peculiarly Nigerian brand of coup de grace. Question anything irrational about the country’s politics or ethical environment, and some smart aleck is apt to accuse you of being “an idealist,” “out of touch with the realities on ground,” or “ignorant of the way things are done in Nigeria.”

I refused to buy the crap. “So how does Nigeria work?” I challenged.

“I’ve been trying to tell you,” the man said, a tinge of impatience in his tone. “If Jonathan took over from Yar’Adua and started to do positive things, then Yar’Adua’s people would have come out against him.”

“But Nigeria doesn’t belong to the Yar’Adua people.”

“Ah, they control the levers of power. And you can’t blame them if they wage a war against Jonathan.”

“Why?”

“Because Jonathan is still operating on Yar’Adua’s time.”

“Then we might as well invite Yar’Adua to continue presiding over Nigeria from the grave!”

“That’s funny, my brother,” the editor guffawed.

“But I’m not joking,” I protested. “It’s either that Jonathan has failed to lead for one year. Or, if what you say is correct, then Yar’Adua – who is dead and buried – is still running Nigeria.”

The man laughed, less from embarrassment than bemusement. His political sociology of Nigeria made eminent sense to him, and he couldn’t grasp why I was impervious to “reason.”

“Anyway, sha,” he said, “I know that Jonathan will transform Nigeria once he’s given his own mandate.”

Once “transformation,” a much-abused, too-easily bandied about word entered the conversation, I had to change tacks. “You don’t know what you claim to know,” I said testily. “In fact, I know you can’t know it.”

Nigeria’s political office holders, military and civilian – the mediocre lot of them – are the greatest transformers in the world! Talk (of transformation) comes extremely cheap to them. They’ve totally “transformed” Nigeria into a hopeless, dismal, grim space. That’s why I had to force the editor to retreat from that hollow word, to leave “transformation” out of the conversation. Instead, I was determined to further expose the emptiness of his claim that the only thing that stood between Jonathan and the unleashing of genius was a made-for-Jonathan mandate.

I offered what I thought a pertinent, illumining scenario. “Imagine that a lack-luster CEO dies and some man is hired to take the vacant post for one year in an acting capacity. Let’s say the acting CEO turns out to be as incompetent as his deceased predecessor. Let’s say that, at the end of the year, the board of directors sits down to review the acting CEO’s performance. Do you think the board would rush to reward the man with a permanent appointment once he explains that he was awaiting confirmation before turning in superb service?”

“You can’t compare a nation and a company,” the editor protested.

“You have a point,” I quickly conceded. Then I asked, “Which is more complex – a company or a country?”

“A country,” he said.

“Then I’d insist that it’s even more urgent to have tested, proven leaders running a country. Wouldn’t you agree?”

He agreed, and then quickly added that he knew Jonathan would be an extraordinary president (once liberated from the encumbrance of occupying another man’s term).

Mr. Jonathan did get his own term more than a year ago – by means that the Supreme Court has upheld as legitimate. Yet, if the president understands what it means to be an engaged, effective, problem-solving, people-inspiring leader, he has so far done an excellent job of hiding it. There’s a pervasive sense, borne out by an incessant parade of toxic events, that Nigeria has never been in worse shape than it is today. Yet, the man who promised Nigerians a robust healthcare system, new bridges, a reformed educational system, an end to kidnapping and terror attacks, a rehabilitated rail grid, a revamped power sector, etc, etc appears just as confounded as when he occupied Yar’Adua’s time.

I haven’t had time to revisit the whole debate with my editor friend, but I’ve had lots of conversations since with others on what’s shaping up to be Nigeria’s most frustrating and despairing pass. And – just as one might have predicted – there’s a new mantra in town, a new excuse, a brand new refrain to explain the abdication of leadership. And here’s the absurd new apologia: President Jonathan is set to work, but the North (or Boko Haram or some politicians) won’t let him.

Mr. Jonathan relishes the excuse, and is sure pushing it. Last week, he told a meeting of his party that violent attacks by Boko Haram have impeded him. He also sought to blame his and Nigeria’s woes on opposition parties. “The opposition parties want to drown the PDP. We believe that if we do not have a party as robust as the PDP, probably, the republic would have collapsed…But the PDP, even though we control the Federal Government, we operate a system that even the opposition fly higher than us (sic). They abuse us more, but we allow it. It is the PDP’s handling of the affairs of the country that is stabilizing democracy in the country.”

In the president’s rambling statement, we detect the outlines of a new rationalization of failure. There are two significant elements here. One, Mr. Jonathan is setting the grounds to blame everybody and everything else for his inadequacies as a leader. Two, he’s seeking to re-set the terms of the debate by declaring that the very survival of Nigeria’s nascent (nasty) democracy is the defining accomplishment of his presidency.

It’s a tested, dependable ruse. Former Nigerian dictator Ibrahim Babangida claimed that his structural adjustment program, whose wretched implementation gutted the country’s middle class, had laid the foundations for the country’s economic greatness. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has beat his chest and proclaimed that his crowning achievement was to hold Nigeria as a corporate entity.

Nearly a year and a half into his mediocre term, President Jonathan is preparing us for his grand excuse. His canard is virtually writ large: “Boko Haram (and opposition parties) made me not do a thing I promised.”

Nigerians know better. They know that Boko Haram and opposition parties never issued a fatwa against any contractor caught building a second bridge in Onitsha; it was Mr. Jonathan who retreated from that pledge. Boko Haram and other political parties never demanded that Jonathan refrain from prosecuting those who plundered Nigeria’s oil subsidy funds. It’s the president’s call to let the unconscionable criminals be. Nobody ever stopped the president from sending bills to the National Assembly to curb the worst excesses of corruption. Neither Boko Haram nor the opposition ever stipulated that Nigerian roads, hospitals and universities should be left in their abominable states; Mr. Jonathan, simply, elected to do – nothing!

Far from using his own term to work for Nigerians, the president has decided, it seems, to be just as detached, indifferent and incompetent as his immediate predecessor. But Mr. Jonathan must not shoulder all the blame. After all, many Nigerians (millions, going by the tally from the presidential polls) bought the line that the man was an outstanding leader waiting (for his own mandate) to lift Nigeria into the developmental stratospheres. In that defiance of logic that carries a Nigerian imprimatur, millions of us said, “We reject the PDP but embrace Jonathan.” Many said he was the right man for the job.

Yet, it was not as if the man descended from outer space. His political record was there for all to see. He’d been an undistinguished deputy governor, a middling governor, and a nondescript stand-in for Yar’Adua. I wonder what’s coming next: “Give him a second term, and Nigeria will turn into a Brazil!”?
Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe
Email: (okeyndibe@gmail.com)

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rt685

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GQPr2

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83eH4

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....best for nigeria

Mahatma Gadhi of Idia said; "if Idia is to improve it has to be ruled by an upright and honest dictator like HAZARAT UMAR. (R.A) ". So if Ngeria is to improve it must be ruled by a leader like Hazarat Umar (R.A) and already we have such a honest and upright man in our midst -Gen. Mohommodu Buari has the records yet to be broken till date lets trust him 2015.

@ifeanyiwuruwuru4ever

Are you the new reuben abati? How much crumb did you get to publish this nonsense for all to see? All these 'achievements' must have been attained in another dimension but certainly not the one we are living in.

During the presidential media chat, your moron GEJ could not tell us what he had achieved since taking the mantle of leadership, yet here you are fooling yourself, and only yourself.

We will know all these achievements when we see them. We don't need crumbcatchers to point it out to us!

@chekwube get your facts right

It is not the north that waged war on the igbos. It was the igbos that waged war on naija by unilaterally declaring the doomed republic of biafra.

I don't know what you expected the rest of the country to do? Just smile and wave the east bye bye? Or what did you expect? Negotiation? Nonsense.

Even though we have the dumbest, weakest fool of a president i assure you even if the niger delta secedes today the full wrath of the nigerian army shall be brought upon it!

It is the igbos that owe us an an apology for killing our leaders wholesale in 1966. After killing our leaders you decide you want out of the 9ja union? Impossible.

I ask again, who let this tribal dog out?

We have enjoyed some period of sanity on SR when this tribal dog known as Okonkwo Kennedy was caged. Abeg, who let this rabid tribal dog out? Hu.hu.hu.hu!

Language

Please clean up your language and be civil. You don't have to be nasty to be heard

Donmams, you have no idea what has struck you.

, i can only imagine what will happen to this country the day an igbo man becomes president!

May god forbid!

Nigeria president?? the do nothing president. the one that nobody respects. take a look at all the so called nigeria presidents and tell me how the masses of this country see and talk about them. pls keep that president all to yourself. The north ruled this country the most and thesame north is the poorest, backwardness, just name it. of all the people that made nigeria and africa proud, from education to science, sports, entertainment, music, movie etc. they are all from the south. can you just name one person from the north. thank your allah cos there are so many imbeciles from the south that will NEVER learn... long hiss.

but things are changing now. the new generation of south takes no shit.

@stanley igwe: You are dysfunctional so i don't expect you to re

@stanley igwe
Every one knows you are a failure clinging to ethnicity as an excuse. And the more you promote that ethnicity the more you dig your own grave but I am not surprised you can think logically. I don't expect anyone from a state where an illiterate Patience is a Director of Education to think logically; it's all about survival for you ! Too bad it's a wasted life for you and your likes. 2 years ago when your moron was being buillied by Turai, you cowards were at the creek hiding but since an animal is in power now, you can shout; IMBECILES. GEJ came in by way of protest and he will go same way ! Tunde Bakare was not a Pastor 2 years ago when he was protesting against Turai Yaradua but it is now he's a Pastor because an animal from your region is in power. FOOLS !

Buhari The Biggest Thief Nigeria Ever Had

I dey laf. This na lie. This na ethnic jingoism. Even the worst enemies of Buhari de laf at you. O yah do the calculation for the ONE YEAR OF CORRUPTION OF THIS ADMINISTRATION: Pension scam, NNPC, subsidy,name it. What about our roads? our universities? our unemployed and unemployable graduates? Even the President admitted his failures times without number..insecurity..terrorism...kidnapping...power sector...etc, etc, etc, should I continue.. My ignorant, cocoanut head friend..this is food for thought for you..i pity your thinking faculty..

your region dwarfs all others in backwardness

@Donmams. Your people waged a genocidal war against the Igbos and defeated them. One would think the North would witness unprecedented developement having completely subdued the 'enemy'. But what do you have in the north? Poverty, begging and terrorist bombings.

You are right. The Igbos may never occupy the highest office in your 'One Nigeria'. But so long as that is the case, the north will never catch up with the Igbos in terms of education and development and they will continue to produce beggars and almajiris who will continue coming down to beg in the streets of the south-east

Sahara please publish my comment!

Tundemash is a complete Idiot

I must salute the person that goes by name 'Re-structure Naija Now' You have a clear understanding of the fundamental problem of Nigeria, of which restructuring the political structure happens to be the only way solving our numerous problems. Any person who expect Jonathan and worst still Buhari to heal Nigeria is unrealistic.
Like you said Tundemash is a complete idiot, a complete waste of space and internet troll whose stock in trade is to spew out abusive words on people who are naturally superior to him, thinking in his small mind, that is the way to get at them. He lacks political imagination and always armed with ignorance.It Is only a vomit like him and his likes that will have problem with the view of Kennedy Okonkwo. Let their bile boils, Buhari will not rule this country.

Don Man and His Fellow Boko

Don Man and His Fellow Boko Haram Don Woman Sister Musawa: The heavily pancaked-POP faced lier. What lies wey you no tell

GEJ Transformation agenda on course! No shaking! 5

What GEJ has done in just 1yr:
9) Oil sector(continued): much more still has to be sorted out in the oil sector, especially the state of our refineries.
10) JOB CREATION: most of the reforms listed above are indirect or direct creators of job. Other direct job creation interventions include the YOUWIN project that empowered 1,200 young entrepreneurs with grants and another programme under the SURE-P meant to give partial employment to 370,000 non-skilled/semi-skilled persons yearly and pay them stipends.
11) And so on and so forth.
So much has been done already by president Jonathan despite the boko haram distraction. So much more will still be done. Some persons have decided to be BLIND &DEAF to these achievements. But I promise them that as the day progresses (most likely 1-2yrs from now) and the drum of these achievements become louder, even the the DEAF will HEAR and the BLIND will SEE.
Thank you.

GEJ transformation Agenda on course! 4

What GEJ has done in 1yr:
8) Building Institutions: President Jonathan has completely reformed INEC to an electoral body determined at all times to conduct free and fair elections. The 2011 elections was widely acknowledged as substantially free and fair. The last Edo elections was even more fantastic. Electoral violence is gradually becoming old fashioned. GEJ has also restructured EFCC by bringing in most of the engine room behind the success of the Ribadu era. The new EFCC works more and talks little. Same was done for ICPC. The Nigerian police force is currently undergoing re-structuring under IG Abubakar. Irrelevant road blocks have been dismantled, cases of accidently discharge hav reduced significantly plus other in house police reforms. The Nigerian Army is gradually taking its pride of place. Recently they launched a locally built APC, among other things.
9) Oil sector: the new PIB is already with the NASS. Aba petrol deport that was shut for several yrs was recently re-opened

Enemies of progress will later eat their words in SHAME 3

What GEJ has done in just 1yr:
6) In AGRICULTURE: for the first time in our history, we have a clearly defined agricultural policy which is targeted towards maximum utilisation of select crops,eg cassava,rice, cocoa,etc for economic growth. The cassava policy intends to reduce our reliance on imported wheat so as to encourage local production of cassava and it's conversion to flour for bakery. The FG has in less than one year eliminated the middlemen cartel that fed fat on fertiliser distribution at the expense of local farmers. There is massive construction of silos, rice mills,irrigation dams,etc. Govt has increased import duties on rice and wheat flour in order to encourage local farmers.
7) The POWER: the power roadmap is very much on track. NERC has been reformed completely to serve its function of efficient regulator of the power sector. Bulk purchaser was created in preparation for privatisation. The transmission company of Nig was recently handed to a Canadian firm for mgt

Enemies of progress will later eat their words in SHAME 2

What GEJ has done in just one year:
3) RAIL transport (continued): Most of old rail tracks rehabilitation have been completed and are already in use, conveying tens of thousands of commuters daily. Ongoing construction of MODERN standard guage rail lines: Abuja-Kaduna line(38% work already done on ground); Lagos-Ibadan line, recently awarded.
4) In AVIATION, massive reconstruction of 11 major airports in the country. Enugu airport is undergoing TOTAL rehabilitation. The domestic wing of Abuja airport is also being reconstructed with expansion of roads and car parks. Same for the international wing and the kano airports
5) In EDUCATION, establishment of 9 NEW federal universities in less than 1 year. GEJ Launched and is currently building hundreds of ALMAJIRI schools for education of itenerant Islamic pupils in the north which Buhari and other northern leaders abandoned. Increased funding for our higher institutions. Reinvigorated the inspectorate oversight of schools.

Enemies of progress will later eat their words in shame!

What President Jonathan has done in just one year-
1) In ROADS construction: Zaria-Funtua-Gusau roads; Oshodi-Apapa with expansion and drainage works, dedicated bridge frm liverpool roundabout to Tin can ports, trailer park; Dualisation of Ibadan -Ilorin; ENUGU-Onitsha(up to upper-iweka section completed, rest ongoing); completion of OWERRI -Onitsha; 9th mile; ONGOING reconstruction of Benin-Ore-Sagamu highway measuring over 265 km; Kano-Maidugri Dualisation; Keffi -Akwanga-Lafia; AWARD of Afikpo-Okigwe; Auchi-Okene being handled by Setraco; Loko-Eweta-Karishi bridge; Kolo-Nembe -Brass; tomention but a few.
2) PORT: reforms at the ports: Sanitisation and reduction of operating agencies to 7, Introduction of 24 hrs ports operation (still being perfected).
3) RAIL TRANSPORT: Ongoing reconstruction and restoration of light gauge train railways across the country including: Lagos- Abeokuta-Minna-Kano line; Portharcourt- Maiduguri line; and others.

Dumb fool. How many years should we give GEJ?

How many years does GEJ need to prove his ineptitude? We should give him 16 years as well? Is that your argument? You must be worse than an animal.

Okey predicted, rightly if i might add, that the same GEJ who could do nothing as acting president after one year, would not be able to achieve squat if he were elected for the job on a permanent basis. Has okey been proved right or wrong?

If okey now tells me that buhari is the leader we need to move us forward in this country, i'd say going by okey's nostradamus-like prediction ability he probably knows what he's talking about!

GEJ will not do anything even if he were given 60 years! The president is just a clown and a buffoon just like all the goons he hired to be his defenders on SR.

GEJ is busy arming the 9ja delta so that he can engineer their breakaway by 2015. Tell him that he will surely fail. Just as he has been a miserable failure all his life.

We Are the Ones

We are the ones. The hungry newspaper editors. The voters of PDP. The pastors who patronize corrupt politicians. The people who rush to other countries to 'escape' bad governance at home. The people who see bad leadership in action but rush to church leadership. The people who believe that once they can solve their own problems Nigeria can go to blazes. They receive scholarship to study abroad, but refuse to return home to build Nigeria. My brother, the list of our inanities are limitless.

Re:EXCUSE FOR FAILURE

It is a wonder that people are still expecting President GEJ to do anything.The man was a failed teacher,a failed commissioner,a failed Deputy Gov,a failed Governor,a failed VP to failed Yar'Adua and now a failed President.How can he say boko haram has stopped him from doing anything when he is busy hobnobbing with boko haram chieftains.His VP is boko haram and so are many of his ministers/advisers.To crown it all he recently appointed a prominent boko haram chieftain as NSA.
The roads are still very bad everywhere because he gave the works ministry to Tony Anenih who handed it over to one of his rogue boys Onolemhemen that never did anything all his life except to study architecture and construction management.GEJ will be sworn in a record 3rd term/time,constitution or no constitution.Failure is GEJ,period.

Ihekandu Ihekwaba

@okonkwo kenneddy: Continue to wallow in your stupidity

@okonkwo kenneddy
U claim ".It must be acceptable to you that igbos have five states while you have six in your yorubaland."

Once again you are displaying your stupidity. How does the number of states in Yorubaland benefit me ? Is Nigeria better of at so many states than it was at 19 states or 3 regions ? So u think Igbos would be better off when they are further divided into 10 states or Yorubas would suddenly have good roads and hospitals when they have 20 states? You are just a useless ethnic champion. if you continue blaming your failure in life on ethnicity and yet u keep promoting same ethnic sentiment, then u have got no hope ! I queried how a respected Ojukwu was refused votes by you who fakely mouth Igbo cause and you side-stepped that. The issue you have is Yoruba having 6 states while Igbo has 5 states. Continue to wallow in your stupidity while the world moves on !

@okonkwo kenneddy: u have got no hope promoting ethnicity

@okonkwo kenneddy
U claim ".It must be acceptable to you that igbos have five states while you have six in your yorubaland."

Once again you are displaying your stupidity. How does the number of states in Yorubaland benefit me ? Is Nigeria better of at so many states than it was at 19 states or 3 regions ? So u think Igbos would be better off when they are further divided into 10 states or Yorubas would suddenly have good roads and hospitals when they have 20 states? You are just a useless ethnic champion. if you continue blaming your failure in life on ethnicity and yet u keep promoting same ethnic sentiment, then u have got no hope ! I queried how a respected Ojukwu was refused votes by you who fakely mouth Igbo cause and you side-stepped that. The issue you have is Yoruba having 6 states while Igbo has 5 states. Continue to wallow in your stupidity while the world moves on !

Answer the question you crumbcatchers

The question is pretty simple. Who was right and who was wrong in his assessment of jona? Okey or the editor? All the insults and merry-go-round will not change the issue! Just answer the damn question!

this prof no serious

Oga okey if u are sincere about all don't you come down to nigeria,u can sit under ojuelegba bridge and commence on hunger strike so as to press home ur point
Funny, u don't ve a problem with farouk lawan so u r not writing any article asking for him to be tried speedily
U also don't ve a problem with d greedy,lazy, members of house of rep who abandoned the PIB(to go on recess)a that when passed into law will boost SME's in this country
Oh sorry, I forgot u will not advocate for such cos u not fighting for an average nigerian u only doing the bidding of ur 70yrs old paymaster

@okonkwomumu4eternity!

I guess the only way 9ja will move forward is for the igbos to be invited to come and chop isn't it?

9ja will never be able to recover from the coup led by major nzeogwu on behalf of the entire igbo race!

If major nzeogwu can betray his foster father, the man who gave him a home, fed him and sent him to school for his 'people', i can only imagine what will happen to this country the day an igbo man becomes president!

May god forbid!

If an igbo man can kill his own foster parents for his own gain, you should know you will never be trusted to run the affairs of 9ja.

Until the day the entire ndigbo apologize for killing our leaders in 1966, nigeria will never forgive you.

@restructurenigeria

So all of nigeria's former president's failed abi? You mind telling us what made you come to that conclusion? I am severely disappointed in you. I am sure the only president that can perform will have to come from your village!

nonsense and rubbish.

When the going was good in all the 3 regions of this country, the igbos were not happy because they were not in power. That was why you people contracted one of your own, nzeogwu, to lead a coup to kill off our best leaders to date! Nigeria is yet to recover from that treachery of the igbos till this day.

Contracting one of your own to kill our leaders, when the contractor practically grew up here in the north was cruel and diabolical. Your treacherous ways know no bounds!

And you expect us to trust you with the presidency? You must be mad!

TO ALL THE BRAINWASHED

I was 5yrs old when holy mallam buhari removed shagari from office,now I have a 4yrs old son and some people are still asking for his holiness to come. If buhari is the only man that can take nigeria to canaan;how come he couldn't hold his own when the chief crook of them all removed him from office.why did buhari agreed to work with abacha's regime? A regime that is only second to his in ranking for human right abuses.if buhari didn't steal a kobo back in'84 is it his tiny military pension that he has been using to campaign for elections, prof na from his tiny pension he carry pay for this write-up?

united under our ssweet oil revenue for the SS

I am happy Okey was around to witness Ghana make history today. It did not take Ghana months to invoke the doctrine of necessity to produce an acting president as we did in 9ja. Ghana did not need a Tunde Bakare and Dan Maria Goje choir singers led by Okey Ndibe, to force John Mahama to be sworn in as preesident of Ghana hours after the death of Mills. Ghana has produced only one Northerner Liman as president since Independece in 1957. Ghana will not have a Kaita Lawal or a Ciroma and a Buhari to tell John that if he does not make it possible for the Ashantis to rule Ghana, they will make the country ungovernable for him. Okey is a real danger to our society. He calls those of us from the SS fools but not our sweet oil which gave birth to abuja. United under the tree of our sweet oil revenue from d SS.

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