June 17, 2024

The Senate has passed the National Anthem Bill, 2024, which seeks to restore the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” adopted by Nigeria at independence in 1960.

This is coming less than a week after the House of Representatives’ passed the same bill last Thursday.

The old anthem was replaced in 1978 with the current one, “Arise O Compatriots.”

Last week, the two arms of the National Assembly intiated the legislation to revert to the old anthem.

The House passed the bill through first, second and third readings last week, while the Senate referred the bill to its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for public hearing.

The committee, chaired by Senator Mohammed Monguno, presented its report on the floor on Tuesday.

Monguno, while presenting the report, said for the first time, the national anthem was given a legal backing by the legislature.

He defended the bill, saying, “The purpose of the bill is apt and timely at this critical period in the history of Nigeria.”

He argued that the old anthem would inspire patriotism and provide the necessary platform for the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitise Nigerians.

Monguno stated that the committee disagreed with the position of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, that the bill must first be subjected to zonal public hearings, a referendum and a resolution of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) before its passage.

“Mr. President, we disagree with the AGF because what he is saying is applicable when it has to do with the amendment of the constitution.

This is just a bill that we are passing. We don’t need a resolution of the FEC or to hold any public hearings,” he said.

The Senate went ahead to consider the bill and endorsed it at the Committee of the Whole.

However, the former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, opposed to the use of ‘tribe,’ in the first stanza of the bill.

Oshiomhole noted that though he was not against the bill itself, he would not support the use of the tribe.

“I am not a tribesman, and I am not a native man; please let it be on record,” he said.

Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, clarified that there should be no misgivings about the bill.

“Let’s not try and mislead the public. The tribe is not necessarily a primitive person”, he said, adding that ‘tribe’ refers to a social group of numerous families with a shared ancestry and language.

The Senate then proceeded to pass the bill for the third time.

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