• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Old nat’l anthem to return as Senate, Reps pass bill

Old nat’l anthem to return as Senate, Reps pass bill

… Say wider consultations not necessary

Nigeria stands at the threshold of re-introducing its old national anthem to the polity, as the Senate, on Tuesday, toed the same path with the House of Representatives, passing a bill to drop the current national anthem – ‘Arise O Compatriots’ for the old – “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”.

The legislation titled, “National Anthem Bill, 2024” passed a third reading after the upper chamber considered a report of its committees on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, federal character, and inter-governmental affairs.

Read also: Bill to bring back Nigeria, We Hail thee as Nigeria anthem scales second reading at Senate

With the bill now passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, the next step will be to send it to the president for assent, and once signed, the country will revert to the old anthem which was jettisoned in 1978 for the current anthem, by the military government of Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Senate passed the bill despite concerns raised by some stakeholders, including Lateef Fagbemi, the auditor-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, against hasty passage and the need for a wider consultation.

BusinessDay reports that the bill was read for the first and second time last Thursday at the Senate. It also received an accelerated hearing in the House of Representations, as it was read for the first, second and third time.

The bill will be transmitted to President Bola Tinubu for assent. If signed into law, it will be the first time Nigeria’s national anthem will be given legal backing.

Mongonu Tahir, the senator representing Borno North, while presenting the report of the committee during plenary, said the bill sought to give a legal framework to the national anthem “so that it can bite and bite with all the legal powers embedded in it.”

He noted that the bill, despite the concerns raised by the AGF, did not need to be subjected to a wider process of citizen participation through zonal public hearings, resolutions of the federal executive council, council of state, national and state assemblies, etc.

He insisted that the bill was an ordinary bill, not a constitutional amendment and only required it to be read first, second and third time after a public hearing.

Tahir said the old national anthem was apt and represented our culture, values and aspirations.

“The bill is in tandem with the spirit of unity. It will undoubtedly inspire a zeal for patriotism and cooperation. It will promote cultural heritage. Changing the national anthem will chart a path to greater unity”, Tahir said.

Read also: Senate passes Bill to change National anthem to Nigeria, We Hail thee

He recommended that the bill be passed. The Senate then resolved to the committee of the whole to consider the report. Afterwards, Godswill Akpabio, the Senate president put the bill to a voice vote and the lawmakers supported it.

The Senate president also said the AFG not being a lawmaker does not have a full understanding of how bills are passed.