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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Reps pass Bill to revert to old national anthem

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The House of Representatives has passed a bill requiring the nation to revert to the old National Anthem – “Nigeria we hail thee.”

Before the commencement of the day’s proceedings, the House had gone into an executive session which lasted for almost 40 minutes to deliberate on matters of urgency and it is believed that the national anthem bill may have formed the issues discussed.

The bill sponsored by the Leader of the House, Julius Ihonvbare, was presented for first, and second reading on Thursday, considered at the committee of the whole, approved and read for the third time.

The bill known as the National Anthem Bill states that “On the date of commencement of this Bill, the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” which is prescribed in the Schedule to this Bill.

The bill also states that “The national anthem of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a national symbol and sign of authority” And that “All persons, individuals or corporate entities, shall respect the national anthem and preserve the dignity of the national anthem.”

The proposed law also makes mandatory the performance or singing of the National Anthem at the “opening and closing ceremonies of Federal Executive Council, and State Executives Council meetings, opening and closing of sittings of Legislative Houses in Nigeria, Constitutional oath-swearing ceremonies, Flag-raising ceremonies.

Other places where the anthem is expected to be performed include major celebrations, major award ceremonies, major commemorative ceremonies, national memorial ceremonies, and the like, which are organized by MDAs, major diplomatic activities, major sporting events, and other occasions as may from time to time, be determined by the minister responsible for education with the consent of the President.

Clause four of the bill prohibits any form of alteration of the lyrics, saying “the Performance and singing of the national! Anthem shall follow the lyrics prescribed by the Federal Government of Nigeria”, while clause five states that “When the national anthem is performed and sung-{a) those present shall stand and deport respectfully, and

“At flag-raising ceremonies, those present shall face the flag, and uniformed military personnel, Police, and other Security personnel are to give a hand salute, and other persons are to look on in respect.”

In addition, the proposed law states that “the Ministry responsible for information shall organize the review and approval of the standard for performance of the national anthem, and record the official recording of the national anthem to be played.

It also states that “The standard and official recorded versions of the national anthem shall be published on the Federal Government of Nigeria’s website.

“Primary and Secondary schools shall make the lyrics of the national anthem part of the civic education and organize pupils and students to Jearn the national anthem.

“The second stanza of the former national anthem shall be the national prayer.”

Leading debate on the bill, the House Leader said the bill seeks to encourage us to look at the anthem as a national symbol that will pull us together with hope and courage in performing our duty to the nation and not necessarily deny the reality.

He said: “As a people confronting a renewed hope and moving forward, tackling the decay and dislocation of the past, we should go back to the old national anthem which gives us that energy, sense of commitment, dedication and desire to move forward”

Hon Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) said there was a need to change the current ways of doing things in the country, adding that you cannot do things the same way and expect different results.

He said the anthem currently being practised is not in tandem with what is practised in the country, adding that even though the anthem speaks of being patriots, several Nigerians are not patriotic, while “the labour of our hero’s hate is now in vain.”

He also said that Nigerians have lost faith in the system, while workers labour while their entitlements are not paid.

While opposing the passage of the bill, Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda said while it is the function of the legislature to make laws, the spirit behind such laws must be clear, asking “What is the essence of this bill?

Chinda said: “What does the old anthem remind us? What is the history behind the old anthem? It was given to us by the colonial master and because of the need to break away from them, a committee was set up which came up with the new anthem which was prepared and composed by Nigerians.

“We are taking ourselves back to the old anthem, but the question is whether it is important now and what value will it add to us as a nation. Nigerians look up to us. What history are we trying to break now? I say no to this and stand to oppose it”.

The House Committee on National Security and Intelligence chairman, Ahmed Satomi, also opposed the bill saying reverting to the old anthem will not positively affect Nigerians’ well-being.

The Nation





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