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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Senate Approves Bill to Revert to Old National Anthem Despite Ministers’ Concerns

The Nigerian Senate passed a bill on Tuesday aiming to reinstate Nigeria’s old national anthem, originally adopted at independence on October 1, 1960, and replaced in 1978 by the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio announced the bill’s passage after a majority supported it via voice votes. This decision came after reviewing a report from the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, presented by the committee’s chairman, Tahir Monguno.

The bill’s passage was in defiance of recommendations made by the federal government during a public hearing held on Monday. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, had advised the Senate to undertake wider consultations before proceeding. Similarly, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, suggested expanding the bill’s scope to encompass broader national identity issues beyond just the anthem change.

However, Mr. Monguno dismissed these recommendations, arguing that the bill did not require further consultation. He asserted that reverting to the old anthem would foster national unity and brotherhood among Nigerians, promoting cultural heritage and patriotism.

Deputy Senate President Barau Jibrin proposed changing “motherland” in the old anthem to “fatherland” to accommodate religious perspectives. Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) suggested replacing “native land” with either “motherland” or “fatherland” and recommended substituting “tribe” with “ethnic.”

Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele read the dictionary definition of “native,” advocating for its retention. Deputy Senate Leader Oyelola Ashiru also backed the bill.

In response, Senate President Akpabio overruled these suggestions, noting that such changes should have been presented during the public hearing. He clarified that “motherland” was preferable due to its broader appeal.

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