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Nigerian Senate Begins Public Hearing on National Anthem Change, Advocates for Broader Consultation

The Nigerian Senate has commenced a public hearing on an Act to provide for the National Anthem of Nigeria

Nigerian Senate Begins Public Hearing on National Anthem Change, Advocates for Broader Consultation

The Nigerian Senate has commenced a public hearing on an Act to provide for the National Anthem of Nigeria and related matters. Representing the President of the Senate at the hearing, Senate Leader Senator Opeyemi Bamidele announced that the second stanza of the existing national anthem would be designated as the national prayer. He noted, however, that further consultation on this matter may be necessary.

In his contribution, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, emphasized that any amendment to the national anthem should not be made solely by legislative decree but should involve extensive consultations. “The reversal is not out of place, but it should involve a wider process to ensure it reflects the wishes of all Nigerians,” Fagbemi stated.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, supported the change and highlighted the significance of a line from the previous anthem addressing oppression. He agreed with Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, Director General of the National Orientation Agency, that the change of the nation’s anthem is long overdue. Ozekhome recalled proposing a similar idea a decade ago at the 2014 CONFAB, where it was debated but ultimately discarded by the 490 delegates.

Ozekhome also criticized the current national flag, describing it as too bland compared to those of the United States and South Africa. He suggested that the name ‘Nigeria’ be changed to ‘Iregime,’ arguing that the current name is burdensome. He cited examples of other countries like The Netherlands, Pakistan, France, Russia, Turkey, Zambia, and Zimbabwe that have undergone similar changes, emphasizing that such changes are essential for national development.

Last week, a bill seeking to revert to Nigeria’s old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” passed its second reading in the Senate. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, which is expected to report back to the house in two weeks. The old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” was replaced by the current anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” in 1978.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has already passed the bill to revert to the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” after swiftly moving it through the first, second, and third readings last week.

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