A Honor System
Recently I went home to Modakeke to visit with my father, who is 91
old. He had given us quite a scare a couple of weeks earlier, when
suddenly to have lost his memory and power of cognition, as well as
sight. But he quickly recovered and by the time I visited, he was
enough of mind and of spirit to be able to share his favorite scotch
on a pleasant afternoon. He said, only half in jest, that he was now
to go meet his ancestors, and if I promised to bring his
visit before year's end, why, he would even hang around for them.
As my father slips deeper into the autumn of his life, and he
welcome the gathering darkness with his customary good cheer, I
and more of the lives that he and his friends-the people of his
When one considers the state of our country today, my father's
has to be thankful that they at least led a purposeful life, where
mattered, where a real effort in the service of others was routine,
where it was still a matter of course that one's life was
the simple notion that you shall do nothing to bring the family name
My father and his friends built a community for us to grow up in,
mattered little if you came from a different clan or belonged to a
faith. Their town needed a high school, so they simply built one.
needed a lawyer, so they pooled money together to send a bright
study the law in England, come back home and hang up a shingle:
Attorney-At-Law. They were men of faith but they did not wear their
on their sleeves. If a neighbor's crop failed, they found a way to
children in school. They worked together to do their best for their
community, because in their eyes all that mattered was the common
which all goodness flowed. It was by no means an idyll, but at least
had honor, and it was an article of faith that if you had no honor
then what had you?
This is a story, I would wager, that is familiar in at least its
outlines to most of you here tonight, my father's people. And of
inquiry would not begin to gather momentum unless I could somehow
golf analogy to explain its contours.
As avid golfers know, golf is constructed around an honor system.
no referees, no supervision, no scorekeeper. The game relies
entirely on the
players' integrity, to penalize themselves when their balls sail out
bounds; to not improve an unfavorable lie even though no one is
declare their score though they are the only ones who know what that
is. In short, golf is played according to a set of rules fully
and subscribed to by the players, who then are trusted to police
and do the right thing.
The environment constructed by my parents and their peers, in which
up, was founded substantially on such an honor system. You do what
done in the way that reflects well on you and your family. You pay
produce stacked by the roadside even if the seller is nowhere in
kept an eye on the neighbor's child as diligently as on your own.
And if you
strayed, you accepted the penalty for your transgressions. That was
natural order of things.
Trust is the lifeblood of any society. The lack thereof manifests
quickly in the simple exchanges of our everyday lives. If you can't
your bank to lend you anything other than an ultra-short-term
because the bank does not trust you to take your repayment
seriously. The landlord who demands two years' rent in advance is
of the fear that there may be no tomorrow, and that you cannot be
pay your rent diligently once you occupy the premises.
And so we must ask: What constitutes the good society? Your answer
include words such as democracy, prosperity, equality, community,
justice, law and order, ambition, liberty, honesty, values,
diversity, selflessness. In some societies this has been boiled down
their constitution-their social contract-in the ringing tones of the
Revolution: "liberte, equalite, fraternite." Or the Americans later
they tried to set an ambitious agenda for their emerging nation:
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Probably most of us in this
and most people outside, will have no disagreement with these words
phrases, even if some would emphasize one over another.
Then we may ask also, is Nigeria such a country? And if not, how can
made into such a country?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the nature of our inquiry tonight.
The Challenge of Facts:
A debilitating lack of self-confidence, I think, characterizes
Nigerian, having seen his country go down the tubes whilst in the
rapacious rulers, and with his own active connivance or apathy. This
condition sometimes manifests itself in a prickly defensiveness. I
have friends of mine lapse into such grand statements as, "that's
you don't live here," as an all-purpose dismissal of an argument
uncomfortable truths they cannot logically avoid. It is manifested
irrational xenophobia exhibited by many against, for example, South
doing business successfully in Nigeria.
But this defensiveness cannot conceal the facts of Nigeria's
today. By all objective measures, the country is far poorer-- $350
in oil revenues later-than it was 40 years ago. Its moral
cracked wide open, a society whose core values matter far less today
they did four decades ago. Its schools and hospitals 40 years ago
superior to its schools and hospitals today. Its bureaucracy was
meritorious and far more efficient than it is today. Its elite was
self-sacrificing, certainly, than today's elite, whose behavioral
bear striking resemblance, if I may be direct, to a swarm of
Nigeria in 1960, as we all know by now, was ahead on the development
than Singapore or Malaysia or the Philippines or South Korea.
expectancy has fallen-FALLEN!!- a full decade since the early 1970s,
43 years, according to the latest edition of the United Nations
Development Index, which measures these things. What this means is
have already lived longer at my age than the average citizen of this
can fairly be expected to live. The average Nigerian now lives only
long as the average Chinese or Japanese. We have become a poster
worldwide for fraud and corruption. We are clearly traveling down an
escalator that is going up.
The road to recovery is paved with these uncomfortable facts.
them, rather than avoidance and obfuscation, is a necessary
A Hobbesian Jungle
I was at a seminar on leadership recently in the South African bush,
preparing for it I was obliged to read Hobbes' Leviathan again. A
older friend remarked to me once that philosophy is lost on youth.
Re-reading Hobbes after so many years, and with the advantage of
hair and the wisdom acquired from the slings and arrows of middle
me realize that my friend was indeed a good and wise man.
You cannot read Leviathan and not feel that Hobbes, who wrote in the
century, was in fact writing about Nigerian society today. We live
Hobbesian jungle, where everyman is for himself and the concept of
common good has become totally alien. We blatantly expropriate
property for private use, so long as it is possible to get away with
it often is. This applies equally to the elite who divide up public
among themselves to build private monstrosities behind 10-foot
the very poor who take over highway medians and overpasses to make
blocks or set up trading kiosks or tap directly into street lamps
In such a state, there is no law that anyone is willing to obey. The
itself is considered illegitimate. Force and fraud are the two
forces. Individuals arrange for their own security, their own
their own water; every home is like a private local government. What
we take, in complete disregard of any rules. Hobbes calls this
free-for-all a state of war, the very heart of our darkness. It is
entirely unpredictable place, and everyone plans only for the short
Let us listen to Hobbes: "In such condition there is no place for
because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture
earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be
sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing
things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth;
account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst
continual fear, and the danger of violent death; and the life of
solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
Now the language of the 17th Century transplanted to today may sound
melodramatic. But I think that, in its essentials, it offers a
useful way of
understanding the underlying forces that have made Nigeria such a
society, to wit: a virtual absence of a legitimate authority that
the country's affairs primarily for the common good, as opposed to
to the wretched excess of the elite and its elaborate rituals of
The Good Society
Earlier we touched briefly on the words that might represent for
most of us
the idea of a good society, such as liberty, equality, justice,
modesty, self-sacrifice, honesty, and so forth.
I think it is quite clear that any attempt to construct a good
of necessity start with the citizens coming together to determine
themselves their rules of engagement. What kind of a country do we,
people, want to have? How shall we be governed? How do we collect
allocate revenue? How do we educate our children?
I don't think anyone can reasonably claim that our current
works-or is even seen to be legitimate by most citizens. Without
a state cannot serve as the pillar of the good society. The
is one where the individual components have willingly surrendered
natural rights-from the primitive state of every man for himself-in
for the more orderly and more efficient system of managing the
affairs, including security, laws in respect of property, and
We are not called upon to reinvent the wheel; simply to recognize,
Rousseau does in "The Social Contract," that "each man, in giving
all, gives himself to nobody," and enjoys the same rights and
do others in society. And if the citizen should breach this
covenant, it is
clear that the state has legitimate coercive powers that it can be
reasonably expected to deploy.
Law and order in a legitimate state is predicated on the sovereign
the authority, within a system of checks and balances, to enforce
rules of engagement. The punishment must always be greater than the
that the lawbreaker expects from breaking the law. There also must
be a high
likelihood that a transgressor will be caught and punished. It's no
having laws imposing fines for running the red light at an
when a potential transgressor knows that the state has no capacity
The necessity of creating a true Commonwealth in our country cannot
overstated. And its legitimacy is conditional on the citizens having
together to devise the rules of engagement. We can already see one
most appalling consequences of an imposed constitution, one that
class of politicians above the law of the land and basically grants
blanket immunity, even when they brazenly steal the family silver.
anyone above the law is to debase the law itself, and invite the
a locust culture, where the swarm of the political elite is engaged
plundering as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and for as
This is why, though a prophet I am not, I would take a bet that we
eventually get around to instituting a genuine national conference,
whose members are not substantially appointed by the current
federal and state levels, to chart a new way forward.
The illegitimacy of the current state is at the heart of our more
problems. The culture of impunity-a total lack of accountability
prevalent at all levels of society-can be traced directly to it. So
corruption, election rigging, law breaking, even widespread poverty.
Between Memory and Forgetting
In our headlong rush into a future we have not planned for, we have
the dangerous art of willful forgetfulness. If a people have no
can they measure progress? If memory is deliberately erased, what is
evidence that they ever existed? Can there be justice without
memory? Can we
seriously pursue a more equal, more just, more prosperous, more
society that we seek? Milan Kundera, the Czech author, goes so far
as to say
that freedom itself is unattainable without the aid of memory, that
struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against
And so today we are expected to forget the heinous crimes of some of
past dictators, including state-sponsored murder, institutionalized
corruption, the abortion of our democratic experiment, and our
delivery into the claws of Sani Abacha. So total is our memory
some of our close friends have even wondered aloud, on occasion,
things were not better under Abacha than they are now.
Need I say more about the danger of forgetting?
Almost 40 years ago our nation underwent a violent convulsion. The
the grotesquely malnourished child, with distended stomach, spindly
large head and unseeing eyes became the lasting imagery of the
One million of our children, our mothers and fathers, our fellow
perished in the war. Many thousands of women were raped and villages
I often raise this issue with my wife, whose family was trapped in
inferno for a while before they were all evacuated to England. Now
some forbidden story from the extended family will surface-an aunt
raped, a man who disappeared, the constant struggle by many to find
the acts of heroism and cowardice and depredation, of fetching
and extreme coarseness.
All this has been erased from the national memory, though it no
continues to exist in the interior lives of many. No monuments mark
war's high points or low. No register of names of those who died
both sides exists anywhere that I know. No acknowledgement of loss
and suffering. Nothing at all as we race headlong into our opaque
afraid of a backward glance lest we be turned, like Lot, into
The case of the forgotten war illustrates for me very vividly the
of the Nigerian state. We have apparently decided that we are a
without a past, and it stands to reason that we should be darting
and that in confusion, not at all sure what direction we should be
The Challenge of Leadership
One of our most glaring failures has been in the area of leadership.
large we operate on the insane principle that it is not necessary to
best foot forward. This accounts for the fact that those who rise to
leadership positions in all spheres of our national life include a
number of gangsters, shady businessmen, hustlers-even accused
ex-convicts. It is not an accident that, since independence, Nigeria
managed to have a single president with a university education. Ten
state and counting, and not one has a college degree! Now one cannot
sensibly claim that a college degree is a guarantee of efficient and
inspired leadership. But surely it should be no disqualification
In other societies, inspired leadership has galvanized the
positive change and modernization. Lee Kwan Yu, Singapore's founding
willed an island backwater into perhaps the world's most efficient
best-educated state-and also one of the most prosperous-in the short
30 years. On our own continent we have the awe-inspiring example of
Mandela, the very personification of the self-sacrificial leader,
his moment of triumph, decided that wisdom was just as important as
righteousness, and that his own time on the national stage should be
so that a new generation of leaders could be allowed to take the
into the 21st Century. Unlike the disappointing Robert Mugabe,
not believe in the infallibility of iconic leaders. Julius Nyerere,
matter the failure of his economic policies, was nevertheless a
honorable and modest leader, who shunned personal gratification and
tirelessly at trying to uplift his poor country.
What did these men have in common? They believed in certain
values-service, sacrifice, honor, freedom, human progress-on which
anchored their lifelong labors. Which brings us to this central
Leadership, values-based leadership, is indispensable if we are to
successfully tackle the daunting problems that confront us.
So far, our national conversation exists mainly at the level of the
man, not a society trying to deal with the myriad challenges posed
by a 21st
Century world. Various ethnic groups are clamoring for the next
(or the next governor, or local government chairman) to come from
area. As far as we are concerned geography is destiny. It matters
the next president is a scoundrel, an incompetent or a fool, so long
comes from the right "geopolitical zone," to borrow from the
language of our national politics. Thus the argument right now is
the "north-north" must produce the next president, or the
some other such ridiculous contraption.From the foregoing we can see
that the quality of our national conversation is of an abysmal
We are stuck firmly in the era of Big Man politics, a politics
entirely on personality. We have done this for 50 years already, and
child, having burned her finger by the flickering flame of the
quickly realizes that a repeat misadventure is easily avoided.
Karl Popper, the Viennese philosopher, argues that a society's best
to create institutions of state, properly balanced in their
scope, as a more profitable way of insuring good governance, rather
moon shot of hoping for a wise and decent leader.
". it is not at all easy to get a government on whose goodness and
one can implicitly rely," Popper argues. "If that is granted, then
ask whether political thought should not face from the beginning the
possibility of bad government; whether we should not prepare for the
leaders, and hope for the best."
In other words, the focus should not be on getting the next Wise
benevolent Big Man who shall solve our problems-they almost never
least in Nigeria's experience. Rather, Popper says, "how can we so
political institutions that bad and incompetent rulers can be
doing too much damage?"
I would agree with Popper that leaders of the quality of Mandela, or
or Lee, or Lincoln, are exceptionally rare; that "rulers have rarely
above average, either morally or intellectually, and often below
it." It is
far more likely that a country, particularly a country like Nigeria,
get a below average leader, so that "it is reasonable to adopt, in
the principle of preparing for the worst, as well as we can, though
should, of course, at the same time try to obtain the best."
In this vein, it stands to reason that we must adhere strictly to
limits, even at the risk of getting a less competent or even less
leader. The value of predictable transitions far outweighs the faint
that an extended tenure for any particular leader will yield the
that good society that we seek.
Of Pets and Men
In addition to focus on leadership, we must understand that our best
will be defeated if we do not create the conditions for a more equal
society, and that begins first and foremost with fighting poverty. I
not bore you with the numbers, except to keep in mind just one:
percent of our population-that's right, 70 percent-subsists on less
dollar a day. This extreme poverty in the world's sixth-largest oil
is a stain on our national conscience, though it's still debatable
have any conscience at all.
The evidence is all around us: the destitute fill the streets of our
Rather than being in school, thousands of children beg for food from
highway median, their noses pressed to the windows of our limousines
we pretend to busily read the newspaper. We avert our eyes and we do
nothing, condemning a large proportion of our fellow citizens to
serfdom. We build high walls to keep them out, but they will not be
We withdraw behind 10-foot gates in Ikoyi and Victoria Island but
up roadside stalls as vulcanizers and guguru sellers in our
neighborhoods. We retreat to gated communities on the Lekki
they clog our roads and turn the sidewalks into brick making
auto spare part shacks.
The inescapable fact is that we cannot build a modern state, in
have the rule of law and enjoy the fruits of liberty, in the face of
overwhelming poverty. Starvation and dignity-or starvation and
for that matter-do not mix. Arthur Okun, the economist, arguing for
mitigation of the excesses of the free market, says we must avoid a
that allows "the big winners to feed their pets better than the
feed their children."
Again, we need not reinvent the wheel. The most profound lessons are
around us, often embedded deep in our culture. Ubuntu, umuntu,
the people of South Africa. People are people through other people.
plain English: I am my brother's keeper. What is good for the
good for me. When the Alsatians and the Dobermans of the elite
better medical care than the children of the poor, it's time to
Those Who Walk Away from Omelas
If you are a member of this privileged elite, as many of you in this
tonight are, one must acknowledge that it is not easy to surrender a
perceived advantage, to fold your cards when you know you have aces
kings. But experience teaches us that there is no better time to
the mere pursuit of personal gratification, to walk away from Omelas,
the title of the magnificent moral dilemma written by Ursula K. le
The writer introduces us to the blissful surroundings of Omelas, a
town where everyone is happy and prosperous; the sheer physical
it; the view of the bay and the mountains, the scent of jasmine and
blaze of chrysanthemums and the bloom of crabapple. Even the sex
the residents appeals to our most wonderful fantasies, for orgies
permitted unselfconsciously. A drug, called drooz, provides euphoria
aftereffects or the pain of addiction. What could be more perfect?
There is only one cost: for the community to exist in this
members must accept the abominable suffering of a single child
locked up in
Most try very hard to avert their gaze from the suffering child,
they feel they are having a lot of fun living in their idyllic town
Omelas. Those who walk away are few and far between. They have moral
integrity and a troublesome conscience. But their passage is a
Life in Omelas could roughly be compared to the hedonism of the
super-elite, which lives in overwhelming abundance and even blithe
The super-elite announces funeral arrangements on billboards. They
Hummers with tinted and bullet-proof windows, albeit over flooded
garbage-strewn streets. The cost of their wretched excess is not
the "abominable suffering" of one child, though, but of the rest of
To say that we fight for, and not merely talk about, a just society
to be against seeking a good life for ourselves. The tension between
egalitarianism and personal gratification can be reasonably
now, it seems there is room only for unlimited personal
gratification. If we
do not do a course correction, we are doomed to remain at the bottom
The fastest growing industry in Nigeria today-faster growing than
telecom sector, and perhaps just as profitable, is the faith
feeds off the misery of the people and appeals to their worst
propensity to superstition, illogic and unreason. The mushroom
particularly in love, it would seem from the billboards around our
city, with words such as fire and damnation, as well as promises of
kind of money-doubler trickery. Thus you have billboards proclaiming
"mountain of fire," and the like.
We do not necessarily have to agree with Marx that religion is the
the people" to recognize the destructive power of mindless faith,
eschews self help and sacrifice and instead asks you to trust in
will magically provide everything for you.
This unquestioning faith has adopted and perverted one of the tools
modern management, which is the concept of outsourcing non-core
to others. In this case, our prophets simply ask us to outsource
to God. Of course, the prophets live spectacularly well off the
backs of the
foolish multitudes. I was looking at one of these glossy magazines
established for the purpose of singing the praise of our moneyed
featured one of the most popular prophets in the land, showing off
collection of six or seven luxury cars, all in his favorite color
with the clear implication that anyone who follows him will of
I do not by this mean to single out Christians at all; I think the
largely true, even more so, in the other major religions. But our
right now is in a desperate state, a time that calls for clear
rationality, not magical solutions and a reliance on divine
Life is grim and hard, and it should not be obscured by the
philosophy of the pulpit, where everything is outsourced to God and
are encouraged to believe that the just and the good will somehow
from some deity reaching down through the clouds to sweep all our
away. To quote the rationalist William Graham Sumner, to do so "is
an easy optimism, under the influence of which people spare
and trouble, reflection and forethought, pains and caution-all of
hard things, and to admit the necessity for which would be to admit
world is not all made smooth and easy, for us to pass through it
by love, music, and flowers."
The good society of which we speak will be built, as it has been
elsewhere, by men and women who act, who take it upon themselves to
sacrifice a little bit of their individual pursuits for the common
new society will be built by teachers who teach, doctors who
lawyers who fight for justice and the rule of law, bureaucrats who
efficiently the commonwealth all the while resisting the lure of the
money, leaders who actually lead, and do not expect that a criminal
worthy of being protected from the law by some perverted notion of
immunity. And yes, this good society will in large part be built by
who understand and accept the responsibilities of citizenship.
We. The People
As we speak of the challenge of leadership as a catalyst for
so must we examine the nature of today's Nigerian, whose deep and
self-destructive cynicism, as we have seen, is perhaps the greatest
Many Nigerians today continue to deny the obvious-that a potentially
wide-ranging transformation is under way, needing only their buy-in
process to gain momentum. Perhaps because the process is at the
uneven, that the fight against corruption might even sometimes
appear to be
a selective one, and that the fruits of a generally sound
environment are not as yet readily apparent, many of our fellow
still look upon the current situation with suspicion, if not
cynicism or hostility.
After years of corrosive military dictatorships and their attendant
as well as the general dissolution and greed of a thieving political
the Nigerian today feels so battered and bruised that he appears to
lost all sense of how to be a citizen. I have been following with
interest a simple but important exercise by the Ministry of Finance,
uncharacteristically for a Nigerian government agency actually is
transparency. The ministry periodically publishes in the newspapers
complete list of revenues allotted from the federation account to
single state and local government throughout the country. So if you
say, Isukwato-Okigwe local government area of Abia State, you can
the newspapers that your local government received 500 million naira
month for the administration of its affairs.
The question that faces us is, how many residents actually take the
to demand that their councilors account for how the money was spent?
go toward fixing the broken windows in local schools? Or paving the
neighborhood roads? Or reactivating a long dormant waterworks? Or
supplies for the local health dispensary? My guess is that many
not bother, thus signaling their leaders that they do not have to be
accountable at all.
The same is true in virtually every important respect. Most parents
get involved in their children's schools or hold teachers and school
administrators accountable for the proper education of their
ask not why our highways are death traps. They witness fellow
illegally expropriating public property for private use and they
normal, or at least acceptable. They appear to believe, in fact,
have an entirely free hand to do anything whatever, including commit
grievous crimes and recognize no difference between public funds and
private spending. The rulers-we must of necessity avoid the term
which connotes purpose and service-have naturally taken as much
the citizens are willing to give them, and then some.
The citizen has become praise singer and court jester, obsequious,
bowing only to wealth and position. We have become Fela's parody of
"government chicken boy." Our praise singing culture has reached new
of perversion, with music extolling the supremacy of anyone with
matter how accumulated, with newspapers and magazines dedicated only
chronicling of the comings and goings of the elite, with chieftaincy
bestowed with such feverish abandon that one of our big men
more than 600 of them! The age of Simply Mr., which The Guardian
so valiantly sought to champion more than 20 years ago, has passed
We are ruled no longer by poorly educated men with guns, but the
remains wary of his freedom. To paraphrase Rousseau, freedom is like
lovely meal of pounded yam and edikai-ekong, but very difficult to
That the citizen in Nigeria today lives in relative freedom does not
knows what to do with it. In fact, one often gets the impression
Nigerians would rather not be free, scared as they are of freedom's
responsibilities. They grumble and complain about the flagrant
and outright robbery that unfold daily in full view, and they shrug
for some divine intervention, and fail to act to shape their own
I have been looking out of the window in hopes of catching sight of
divine intervention, but perhaps my sight is poor. There is no
there riding to our rescue, ladies and gentlemen. We must face the
fact that the world owes us nothing, and those who are not prepared
function in it will fall farther behind and become slaves to other
men. It is neither fair nor unfair; it is just the way it is. As the
goes in the Merchant of Venice, "I hold the world but as the world,
The task before us, then, is not only simply to reform our political
but fundamentally to learn how to be citizens all over again. Simon
el libertador, said the main task facing the leaders of the newly
Spanish colonies of South America, early in the 19th century, was
less than the creation of a new kind of citizen. The new political
he said, "have to reform men perverted by the illusions of error and
We must recognize that it is not necessarily a sure thing that
do the right thing when given the chance. As in the allegory of the
men in a cave in Plato's Republic, people do not necessarily want to
light. The sunlight is bright and can be momentarily blinding,
soon opens up the vista to our imagination. Freedom tastes great,
is hard to digest.
The Americans have this wonderful preamble to their constitution, a
statement of their ambitions as a nation. Its phrasing is elegant
soaring. It rallies the citizens around a common purpose. "We the
the United States, in order to form a more perfect union." That's
more perfect union, a recognition that the task of improvement is
concluded, that a society must constantly strive towards the goal of
insuring the common good.
Are we the people here gathered, and those beyond these walls,
end the culture of greed and avarice that we have allowed to grow,
cancer, on our nation's soul?
Are we the people here assembled ready to take charge of our own
set our shoulders against that boulder, and start the hard tasking
rolling it uphill?
We the people, are we pledged to forsake purely personal advantage
hedonism, and seek ye first the common good?
We the people, are we prepared work tirelessly for life, liberty,
pursuit of happiness?
Are we, the people, willing to set ourselves high standards, rather
constantly seeking the lowest common denominator? Are we willing to
the republic of ambition?
Let us close our exploration tonight by turning for inspiration to
Akhmatova, perhaps the greatest of the 20th-Century Russian poets,
exhortations to sacrifice speak loudly to us today:
"Your heart must have no earthly consolation.
"You must not cling to either wife or home.
"Take the bread out of your own child's mouth
and give it to a man you do not know.
"You must be the most humble servant
of the man who was your desperate enemy
and call the forest beast your brother.
"Above all, never ask God for anything."