NASS moves to return old national anthem

The House of Representatives has passed a bill seeking to replace the current National Anthem, ‘Arise O Compatriot’, with the former one, ‘Nigeria, we hail thee,’ adopted on October 1, 1960, but was dropped in 1978 by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime.

The House fast-tracked the bill through first, second, and third readings in one fell swoop during plenary yesterday.

The bill passed third reading after the Majority Leader, Julius Ihonvbere, who sponsored it, moved for its consideration at the “committee of the whole,” where the clauses were voted on and approved.

The proposed legislation, amongst others, stipulate that when the national anthem is performed and sung “(a) those present shall stand and deport respectfully, and

(b) 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.

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

Ihonbvere, while reading debate on the bill, said the old national anthem exudes the kind of energy, resourcefulness and sense of vision that is good for the country and urged his colleagues to support the bill, saying it would promote the unity of the country.

The Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda, kicked against the bill. He argued that there must be a clear cause to make laws, that passing the bill would amount to taking ourselves back.

“What value will it add to us as a nation?” he asked.

He said Nigerians were looking up to the parliamentarians to make laws that add value to the country. “I stand to oppose it. I ask the leader to withdraw the bill.”

Satomi Ahmed from Borno also opposed the bill, saying it would not stop hunger and banditry.

“Let us do something that will bring development in the eyes of the international community. Let us think of something that will bring progress,” he said.

Ahmed Jaha from Borno supported the bill, arguing that the ‘Arise O Compatriot’ anthem has not benefited the country.

He said Nigerians do not identify with the current anthem.

When Ben Kalu, deputy speaker, who presided put the bill to a voice vote, the “nays” were louder than the “ayes.” However, he said the “nays” had it.

In the Senate, the Bill introduced by the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, speedily passed for first, second and third readings within minutes. Before its passage, the senators held an executive session for almost two hours, presided over by Godswill Akpabio.

It was learnt that during the secret meeting, Danjuma Goje and Adams Oshiomhole advocated for a public hearing before the amendment, but the Senate leadership objected for the new anthem to be dropped for the former, hence, the reason the bill needed to pass first and second readings.

At the commencement of the plenary, Bamidele urged the Senate to support the bill, arguing that the current anthem was forced on Nigerians by the military regime.

“You will also agree with me that those who were around in the 1960s and the late 1970s would attest to the fact that the Anthem played quite a significant and crucial role in shaping Nigeria’s national identity and unity and engendered a high sense of value and personal belonging among the citizenries. It was symbolic of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and nationhood. In retrospect, the Anthem served as a regular and constant reminder of our journey, as a nation and provoked feelings of nostalgia and fond memories of the country’s early years.

“Nigeria, We Hail Thee Our own dear native land, though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand, Nigerians all, and proud to serve Our sovereign Motherland.

“Our flag shall be a symbol that truth and justice reign, in peace or battle honour, and this we count as gain, to hand on to our children a banner without stain.

“O God of creation, Grant this our one request, help us to build a nation where no man is oppressed, and so with peace and plenty Nigeria may be blessed.”

He added that the old National Anthem, as a symbol of national pride, has provided insights for patriotic reflections on our aspirations, values and hope for a united and prosperous Nigeria.

Bamidele reminded the Senate of the former National Anthem, which read thus: ‘Nigeria, we hail thee our own dear native land; Though tribe and tongue may differ; In brotherhood we stand, Nigerians all, and proud to serve our sovereign motherland.

“Our flag shall be a symbol that truth and justice reign; In peace or battle honour; And this we count as gain to hand on to our children a banner without stain.

“O God of creation, grant this our one request. Help us to build a nation, where no man is oppressed; and so, with peace and plenty Nigeria may be blessed.”

The Bill received the support of all the Senators that contributed. Asuquo Ekpenyong expressed that the old National Anthem resonates more with the aspirations of all Nigerians calling for the bill to be passed for the second time. He said that the bill will afford Nigerians the opportunity to make inputs at the public hearing.

He said: “The former anthem resonates more with our current aspirations. I will call on the Senate to do wider, deeper consultations, engage the people.”

Akpabio subjected the bill to a voice vote, and it received a loud chorus of “Ayes” in favour of its second reading.

Thereafter, Akpabio referred the bill to the Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, and to report back as soon as possible.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top