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|Akwa Ibom State Politics by adook1: 10:52am On Apr 05, 2010|
Akwa Ibom 2011: Can Akpabio stem the tide of opposition?
Sunday, 04 April 2010 Bassey Anthony
Political activities in Akwa Ibom State are already in full throttle ahead of the 2011
general election. Within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for instance, all the
gladiators in state’s politics have been smarting up for the contest.
While the opposition parties are less active compared to the ruling PDP, there are also
potential areas of tension within the opposition camp, which might ignite a full-blown
politicking in the coming months.
Without doubts, Akwa Ibom is one of the states in the Southsouth where the governorship
election will be keenly contested both at the primary election of the PDP, and at the
There are two reasons for this situation: one is the ethnic dimension that is attached to
the governorship of the state and the second, is the personality clash between the incumbent
governor of the state, Obot Godswill Akpabio and his predecessor, Obong Victor Attah.
From what the Nigerian Compass can gather, forces loyal to Governor Akpabio are already
oiling the machinery for his second term reelection.
For example, the city of Uyo, which is the capital of the state is already awash with bill
boards advertising the achievements of Governor Akpabio, as well as in all the nooks and
crannies of the 31 local government areas of the state.
Apart from the bill boards, a great number of pressure groups, including women, youth and
socio-cultural groups, have also sprung in Akwa Ibom State in recent time with a common
message: Support Akpabio for second term.
While the development is already causing some hiccups across factions within the PDP, the
opposition appears to be watching with keen interest, waiting for a weak opening it could
For any cursory observer of Akwa Ibom State politics, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in
state is a divided house.
The reason for the sharp division within the PDP, which prides itself as the only party in
the South-South state is not far fetched: the gladiators in the party in the state have
taken divergent positions on the composition of the state executive body of the party.
The major actors in the crisis rocking the Akwa Ibom PDP are the state governor, Akpabio and
his predecessor in office, Attah.
Expectedly, many of top chieftains of the party have also been divided along the lines Attah
Akpabio, being the governor, and according to the constitution of the PDP, is the leader of
the party in the state.
On the other hand, Attah being a foundation member of the party and also a former governor,
is a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party.
The BOT is a very influential organ of the PDP.
The bone of contention between the pro-Akpabio and the Attah group is the acceptability of
state chairman of the party, Mr. Uwem Ita Etuk and the entire executive body.
According to feelers from the party, Attah is said to be angry that he was not part of the
process that produced Uwem as the state chairman. Sources say that he feels slighted that
Akpabio bye-passed him as a former governor and a member of the BOT in the composition of
the state leadership of the party. Attah therefore, wants the executive body dissolved.
However, Akpabio, on the other hand, is insistent on retaining the executive as constituted.
In finding a thaw to the crisis, the national leadership of the PDP mandated a
reconciliation committee headed by General Ike Nwachukwu, and shortlisted Akwa Ibom as one
of the PDP-controlled states the committee would visit.
However, it appears that the even the Ike Nwachukwu committee was not able to achieve much
in closing the chasm in the Akwa Ibom PDP when it visited the state last October, as both
parties stuck to their guns.
Sources in the PDP national secretariat, however, told the Nigerian Compass that the
committee is currently having a second look at the Akwa Ibom situation, and will soon
present an official position on the crisis.
But, until the committee presents its report the status quo subsists, thus heightening the
acrimony in the party.
The indecisiveness of the committee rather than calm frayed nerves between the two camps,
has further exacerbated the tension and suspicion within the party in the state.
The present chaotic situation in the party has, however, given vent to the insinuation that
the PDP in Akwa Ibom State would not speak with one voice ahead of 2011 election .
It is also feared that the division in the PDP ahead of 2011 might create an opportunity for
the opposition parties to latch on.
Another angle to the crisis in Akwa Ibom PDP is the zoning arrangement for the governorship
Ordinarily, there are three major ethnic groupings in Akwa Ibom State: Ibibio, Annang and
During the tenure of Attah as governor of the state, the leadership of the PDP, then, had
zoned the governorship seat to the Annang – the second largest ethnic bloc in the state in
the spirit of ethnic balancing.
That was the arrangement which paved the path for Akpabio’s emergence as the PDP
governorship candidate in 2006.
The Ibibios, by sheer size is the largest of the three ethnic blocs, and had occupied the
governorship of the state since its creation in September 29, 1987 .
The Nigerian Compass, however, scooped that there are divisions in the party on whether to
allow the Annang, as personified by Akpabio, serve two terms tenure as governor, or that the
position should return to the Ibibios.
Akpabio is about completing his first tenure of four years and has his eyes keenly set for a
But, not even the support from traditional rulers from the Ibibio land, barring any of the
Ibibio politicians from contesting the governorship next year against Akpabio is holding
Right now, quite a number of aspirants have emerged from Ibibio, who are also gunning for
So far, three Ibibios have declared to contest the governorship elections against Akpabio.
On the list are the former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),
Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, former Military Administrator of Ogun and Rivers State ,
Group Captain Sam Ewang (rtd), and Mr. Iniekong Udonwa.
Apart from the PDP, about five other political parties seem to have registered presence in
Akwa Ibom State. They are, the Action Congress (AC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP),
the Labour Party (LP), the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and, lately, the Progressive
Peoples Alliance (PPA).
In all these, the opposition parties in the state have appeared to be mere spectators,
thereby, fueling insinuations in many quarters that they have either been bought over by the
ruling PDP or experiencing some internal problems.
The PPA for instance, started showing some political relevance in Akwa Ibom State shortly
after the party’s national congress last year produced an indigene and former PDP
gubernatorial aspirant in state, Mr. Larry as national chairman.
Suffice to say that none of the mentioned opposition parties in the state has, for now,
commenced any serious effort at wresting power from the PDP.
Checks placed by the Nigerian Compass indicate that none of the top politicians in the state
has shown interest in contesting the governorship position on the platform of any of the
Although some of the notable opposition parties such as ANPP and AC in the state have been
making occasional pronouncements that they were preparing for the forthcoming elections, but
so far, there are no indication that the pronouncement have been marched with actions.
There are certain reasons to believe that the ANPP and the AC, which many consider as
formidable opposition parties in the state, would not make any significant impact in the
Unlike in 2007 when the ANPP had Ewang as its governorship candidate, it is not likely that
in the present scenario, the party or any of the present opposition parties in the state
could beat its chest that it could have such a high ranking politician as its candidate for
the governorship election.
Reason: the current attempt by opposition forces in the country to form a common alliance
through the mega party structure is slowing down the level negotiation among the parties.
Of course, Ewang’s ANPP lost the 2007 election to the PDP, but his mere presence added more
flavour to the race, and also gave a boost to the profile of the ANPP in Akwa Ibom State.
Right now, the Nigerian Compass can scoop that all is not well between the leadership of the
ANPP in Akwa Ibom State and Ewang, and it is not unlikely that Ewang might look another way
from the ANPP this time around in his gubernatorial ambition.
He has since indicated his intention to run for the 2011 governorship elections, but till
now, he has not given a clue to the political party he would use as a lunch pad.
Ewang also shunned a reconciliation meeting held last year in Uyo on the grounds that the
peace meeting was not held at the party’s state secretariat situated at the Udosen Uko
As if to confirm that there is a frosty relationship between Ewang and the ANPP, the state
party chairman, Mr. Paul Bassey, in a recent interview with the Nigerian Compass in Uyo,
said the party was waiting for its national secretariat to blow the whistle for it to
conduct its primaries that would eventually produce the governorship candidate for 2011.
Asked whether the party was aware that Ewang had declared his intention to run for the
governorship, Bassey told our correspondent that nobody in the party was aware of Ewang’s
gubernatorial ambition as he was yet to inform the party.
It is, however, widely believed among political circles that Ewang is merely bidding his
time as it is being rumoured that he is one of those advocating for the emergence of a mega
Ewang himself had said during an interview with our correspondent that he was yet to inform
the ANPP of his ambition to run for the governorship in 2011.
The seeming lull in the ANPP in the state, according to watchers of political events in the
state, stems from the fact that the party does not have the financial muscle to match the
PDP in any electoral contest. This much can be attested by the huge oil revenue that comes
to the coffers of the PDP-controlled government in Akwa Ibom State .
Again, there are incontrovertible evidence to suggest that the ANPP, after the 2007
election, has not been interacting with the electorate, a situation which seems to have
grossly affected the electoral fortune of the party.
Save for some occasional critical statements in the media on some government programmes and
projects, the ANPP leadership in the state has been voiceless.
The Action Congress (AC) is not faring better, either. The party chairman of the party in
the state, Comrade David Ekanem, has left no one in doubt that the AC is still licking the
wounds of its loss at the tribunal challenging the mandate of the incumbent PDP
Ever since the Court of Appeal ruling validating the election of Akpabio, the governorship
candidate of the AC in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. James Inima, has gone into oblivion.
The party at the moment, according to sources, is waiting for its national secretariat to
give it the green light to conduct its state congress which would eventually produce a
Although the state chairman, Ekanem, has severally boasted that the party was finding it
difficult to cope with the sea of notable politicians who have indicated interest to pick
its governorship ticket, there are no indications at the moment that it can parade any
strong candidate that would match Akpabio, the likely PDP candidate, money for money and
power for power.
There are, however, widespread speculations that the former Minister of State for the
Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, may dump the PDP and
pitch his tent with the AC due to his running battle with Akpabio.
Akpanudoedehe had stormed the city of Uyo with his supporters to openly declare his
intention to run for the governorship and formally open his campaign office.
He did not mention the political party he will be using to contest for the position.
The PPA also is seemingly standing on a precipice. Penultimate Friday, during the burial of
a former state chairman of the PDP, Chief Anthony Emenyi in Oron Local Government Area of
the state, its national chairman, Mr. Larry Esin, was visibly and conspicuously hobnobbing
with PDP chieftains in the state.
Esin, according to our investigation, is already receiving signals from the PDP urging him
to decamp from the PPA to the PDP.
Esin defected to the PPA after contesting for the PDP governorship ticket in December 2006
against Akpabio, alongside 50 other contestants and came third.
It remains uncertain if Esin would be able to muster enough political courage and grassroots
support to battle the PDP for which he was a strong member before his exit.
In another breathe, pundits are of the strong belief that there is no such thing as an
opposition party in Akwa Ibom State going by recent rumours making the rounds in the state
that most of the opposition parties have been compromised to relinquish their earlier
position to take over power from the PDP.
To confirm this school of thought, there have been grave indications that there are widening
cracks in the fold of the opposition in the state with each of the parties accusing the
other of being an appendage of the PDP.
For instance, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) in the state under the
leadership of Comrade David Ekanem of the AC, last year accused the State Chairman of the
Labour Party(LP) Mr. Stern Etim, of giving clandestine support for the second term
reelection of Akpabio.
Etim was also alleged to have led some members of his party and other parties to collect
huge amount of money from the PDP government in the state to endorse the governor for a
Although the LP chairman has denied that he was bribed by the government, but how is party,
the LP, can strategically position itself to edge out the PDP in the forthcoming
governorship race is yet to be seen.
There will continue to be crisis in the PDP, until, ’
Sunday, 04 April 2010 00:00 Bassey Anthony
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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will continue to experience crises until it is returned
to the original founders of the party, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief
Chris Ekpeyong, has said.
Ekpeyong, a chieftain of the PDP and one of the founding members of the party in Akwa Ibom
State, said the reason why the PDP had veered off its original track and vision was because
the party had been hijacked by people who he described as “traders.”
According to Ekpeyong, the leadership crises and the seeming lack of vision and direction
experienced by the PDP is a direct fall-out of the negligence of the founding fathers of the
Speaking during an interview with the Nigerian Compass, during the week, Ekpeyong said, “the
major vision and mission behind the formation of the PDP by notable Nigerians such as
Solomon Lar; Late Bola Ige; Alex Ekweme; Atiku Abubakar; Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi; Chief
Victor Attah; my humble self and others was for the party to solve Nigeria’s problems which
were largely caused by the long years of military rule.”
Lamenting that the dreams of the party have not been actualised, he said, “What has happened
is that the PDP today is not the PDP of our dreams. It is not the PDP of the days of Adamu
Ciroma; Alex Ekwenme; late Bola Ige; Solomon Lar; Jerry Gana; Abubakar Atiku; Abubakar Rimi
and a host of others and even Chief Ojo Meduekwe. If Madueke is sincere to himself, he will
know that this is not the PDP of our dreams.
“I think they allowed bystanders to over-take the real conveners and foundation members who
had the focus, knowing that Nigeria had a problem and we wanted to solve the problem of
Nigeria by forming a formidable political machinery that will wrestle power from the
military, and at the time, give Nigerians a sense of vision, mission and arrival.”
The ex-deputy governor stressed that being one of those who brought the PDP to Akwa Ibom
State, he deserved a better deal from the present leadership of the party, particularly his
former boss, Attah, as well as Otuekong Don Etiebet.
Speaking on attempts by some Ibibio politicians to prevent Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa
Ibom State, an Annang, to go for second term in office, Ekpeyong insisted that it was only
fair and justifiable for the Ibibios in the state to respect the power shift to the Annangs
as conceived and agreed upon by the three major ethnic groups in the state during the
His words, “As a former deputy governor, and being an Anang, I was a symbol of that power
shift even though it was not automatic for me to succeed him (Attah), but it was symbolic
that power should shift to people of Anang extraction.”
2011: Akpanudoedehe, Ewang, Udonwa and the battle for Akpabio’s job
Tuesday, 23 March 2010 00:00 Bassey Anthony
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Ahead of the 2011 elections, the political atmosphere in Akwa Ibom State is getting charged
up as politicians occupying various elective offices have begun frantic moves to ensure that
they are not thrown overboard by the whirlwind of the forthcoming elections.
In the same vein, those desirous of taking over from the present occupants of the offices
from May 29, 2011 have started building bridges across some powerful political foundations
and institutions in their determined bid to unseat the incumbents.
While these high-level consultations, intrigues and manipulations continue feverishly among
various political camps, pundits and even keen watchers of the unfolding political events in
the state have come to the conclusion that going by the complexion of Akwa Ibom politics,
which is usually characterised by last minute surprises, next year’s elections would not be
a tea party for both the incumbents and those aspiring to step into their shoes.
No political office is spared in the ongoing battle for occupancy and no aspiring politician
is willing to blink first for the other else he or she is discountenanced as a political
Lilliputian by his or her opponent. Right from the governorship office to the least, which
is the councillorship, the battle is raging. The hysteria displayed in the whole drama has
made pundits to warn that no politician, regardless of his or her political stature, should
be written off.
The fiercest battle ground, it does appear, is the governorship office presently occupied by
Chief Godswill Akpabio. The governorship seat is arguably the most coveted office in the
state, perhaps because of the enormous oil revenue that comes into the coffers of the
22-year old oil-rich state. Contenders for the number one plum job in the state would stop
at nothing to have control over this oil wealth.
Akpabio rode on the horses of popularity, acceptability and sheer providence to become
governor in 2007. He had surreptitiously and tactically built his political foundation and
structures across the 31 local government areas of the state while serving as Commissioner
for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and later that of Lands and Housing in the
administration of his predecessor, Chief Victor Attah, between 1999 and 2007.
His goodwill towards the three major ethnic blocs of Ibibio, Annang and Oron in the state
while serving as commissioner in the two aforementioned ministries earned him the peoples
love and acceptability and by the popular demand of the generality of Akwa Ibomites he was
voted as the second democratically elected governor of the state after surmounting the
initial odds of the December 2006 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries when he contested
against over fifty aspirants including his former boss’s son in-law, Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika.
Since Akpabio took over the mantle of leadership in the state, not a few people have
attested to the fact that he has brought rapid and evenly-spread human and infrastructural
development to all parts of the state without recourse to ethnic or political bias. He has
also being commended for completing most of the projects initiated by his predecessor.
Going by his recorded achievements there have being passionate calls and endorsements from
numberless quarters for him to go for a second term and Akpabio himself, whom so many have
described as the most desperate second term-seeking governor, is not leaving anything to
chance to ensure that he returns to office to consolidate on his achievements.
Described in political circles in the state as ‘a child of Destiny’, one would have thought
that with his firm control over the PDP executive in the state coupled with his performances
in his almost three years in office and the strings of endorsements he has received so far,
he would be granted a second term on a platter of gold.
Besides his astounding achievements, there is solid agreement among the three major ethnic
groups of Ibibio, Annang and Oron that the Annang ethnic group to which Akpabio belongs
should occupy the governorship seat for another four years. The Ibibios had monopolised the
governorship since the creation of the state in 1987 until former Governor Attah thought it
wise to allow the Annangs, in the spirit of ethnic balance, have a shot at it.
However, arising from the ever growing opposition forces against the youthful governor and
his second term ambition as evident by the emergence of other seemingly powerful
politicians, who have declared their interest to contest for the office of governor with him
in the 2011 race, many political observers in the state now believe that he may not be a
‘Child of Destiny’ after all.
So far, only three persons have boldly come out to declare their intention to contest
against Akpabio. They are the former military administrator of Ogun and Rivers states and
the 2003 and 2007 governorship candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Group
Captain Sam Ewang (rtd), Dr. Iniabasi Udonwa, a Singapore-based businessman and the former
Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe.
However, out of the three of them, one man that is giving Akpabio sleepless nights is
Akpanudodehe, his estranged political ally. Though the governor, perhaps due to pride, has
not admitted it openly that he has an incurable phobia for Akpanudoedehe, many believe that
Akpabio’s is afraid of him.
The former FCT junior minister, it is not yet forgotten, was Akpabio’s campaign manager in
the last electioneering campaigns but today he could be described as the governor’s
‘Achilles’ heel’. He wants Akpabio’s job and he is not making any pretences about his deep
animosity for the present administration under his former principal.
Akpanudodehe, who had since declared his intention to run for the governorship, few weeks
ago, stormed the city of Uyo , the Akwa Ibom State capital, with thousands of his supporters
to officially open his campaign office at Udotung Ubo Street, Uyo. The long train of
supporters which accompanied him round major streets of Uyo no doubt rattled the present
According to his political associates, the former minister is a very daring, fearless and
unrelenting person whose penchant for die-hard politics is unrivalled. These attributes of
his recently played out dramatically at the funeral of a foremost traditional ruler, the
late Usonyin Okon Ekpo Ekpo, the Okuibom Ibibio and paramount ruler of Ibesikpo Asutan Local
Akpanudodehe, not minding the presence of Akpabio and other top government functionaries at
the burial ceremony, ended his condolence message by referring to himself ‘Governor of Akwa
Ibom State in 2011’. Akpabio was highly embarrassed and infuriated by the former minister’s
bare-faced effrontery. But for the quick intervention of eminent traditional and political
leaders, who were at the event, the governor had made moves to dispatch from the venue of
There are speculations that he may even soon dump the PDP for another political platform in
order for him to realise his governorship ambition. Already some politicians in the
opposition camp are luring him with the governorship ticket.
Recently, the state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Bassey Eshiet, disclosed that there are ongoing
talks by the opposition for Akpanudoedehe to be given the governorship ticket. According to
Eshiet, the opposition parties discussing the possibility of merger party have agreed to
field a formidable candidate that would match Akpabio money for money and power for power,
adding that they have found the former FCT Minister as that person.
Again, it is strongly believed that former governor Attah is solidly in support of his
gubernatorial ambition. This could be evidenced by the support Akpanudodehe gave and is
still giving the former governor in the fight to change the present PDP exco in the state
under the leadership of Mr. Uwem Ita Etuk. Also recently, during the burial of a former
state PDP Chairman, Chief Tony Emenyi in Oron Local Government Area of the state, youths of
the area carried placards which said: “We Say No to Attah and Akpanudodehe”.
Another politician who is anxious to see Akpabio’s back in 2011 is Ewang. He tried in 2003
to be governor but failed. Again in 2007, he contested against the incumbent on the platform
of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but lost. As 2011 approaches, he has again come out
to challenge the governor at the polls.
Ewang boasted in an interview with the Nigerian Compass that Akpabio would hand over to him
in 2011 whether he (Akpabio) or anybody believes it or not. An advocate of the merger party
structure, the former MILAD, who is yet to inform his party, the ANPP, of his intention to
contest the 2011 governorship elections, said Akpabio’s power of incumbency and the enormous
resources at his disposal would not work for him in next year’s polls.
According to him, his desire to clinch the governorship from Akpabio is informed by the
alleged maladministration by the PDP government in the state as evidenced in the high level
of insecurity of lives and property, youth unemployment, lack of political will to revive
ailing industries, poverty and misdirected application of state funds to projects of less or
no importance to the socio-economic fortunes of the state. He is quick to assure that if
voted into power he would change the old order and bring respite to the people.
Also, Udonwa, a relatively unknown political figure in the state, Udonwa had, last month,
set up his campaign office at 2, Wellington Bassey Way , Uyo, and the road that leads to the
Government House. Many who know him describe him as a man with a very deep pocket.
Despite Udonwa’s ‘deep pocket’, several political schools of thought have dismissed him as a
political neophyte who should not be given a second thought by Akpabio. Their argument is
that he is not resident in the state and as such does not have any political structure.
Again and most importantly too, he does not belong to any known political party. There are
speculations, however, that he may finally pitch his tent with the Action Congress (AC). But
even if AC gives him the ticket what difference would he make? The AC in the state is weak
and does not have the capacity to pose a threat to the PDP government in the state let alone
make any significant impact in the 2011 elections.
The writing on the wall also indicates that even if he decides to join the PDP, he would
definitely not get a ticket to run for the governorship because the ticket has already been
given to the incumbent.
It is against this background that the first indigenous military admi
nistrator of the state and strong supporter of the Akpabio’s administration, Air Commodore
Idongesit Nkanga, concluded that those aspiring to take over power from the governor were
only embarking on unprofitable ventures.
His words, “We have told the people that this is the best thing for us as a people. We have
never said that nobody should come and contest. It is just that it is unprofitable for them
so that is what we are saying. Nobody stops them. I mean in a democracy we expect many
people to be on the ballot paper; let them come; nobody says they shouldn’t come but the
Ibibios have taken their decision. They have made it public. Anybody that does otherwise,
that is his headache. We would not stop anybody from contesting”.
But despite the series of endorsements from various socio-political groups and several
assurances from powerful political figures in the state, Akpabio himself appears to be
The reason for the governor’s seeming fright is linked to rumours making the rounds that the
Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan may soon name Attah as one of his senior aides.
Akpabio, it is also rumoured, is not in the good books of the Acting President and so it is
anticipated that when Attah, who is his arch enemy finally makes Jonathan’s list of
appointees he would use his position to ensure that he puts spanner in the works of the
governor’s second term ambition.
As if he is acting out his fears, the Akpabio has given instructions to his aides to stop
granting press interviews. A source disclosed that the move is aimed at checkmating
utterances of government officials who may out of overzealousness say things that may worsen
the already strained relationship between him and his predecessor.
As part of strategies to secure his second term ambition, the governor at the weekend held
an important meeting with top Ibibio political leaders. According to those close to the
meeting which held at Asan Ibibio, the Ibibio traditional meeting point, the discussion at
the meeting centered on the need for the Ibibio to support the Annang to go back for second
term in office. The Governor, according to the source, had appealed during the meeting for
the cooperation of Ibibio leaders to convince their kinsmen to vote for Akpabio in 2011.
Despite Akpabio’s strategic moves for retain the governorship seat in 2011, will the forces
against him allow him? Will he mend fences with his former boss whom the Ibibios respect so
much? If he doesn’t, would he scale the high walls of political intrigues all by himself as
2011 beckons? All eyes are watching but sure Akwa Ibom State is sitting on a political time
bomb waiting to be detonated in 2011.
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