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Bill for old National Anthem passes 2nd reading in Senate

Screenshot 2023 07 11 at 6.56.17 PM

A bill to revert to Nigeria’s old National Anthem, on Thursday, passed second reading in the Senate.

This followed the presentation of the lead debate on the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele during plenary.

The bill titled “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the National Anthem of Nigeria, and for matters related thereto, 2024” which was read for the first time on Thursday was given accelerated hearing.

Presenting the bill, Opeyemi said that the bill sought to make provisions for Nigeria to revert to its old national anthem that would promote better symbol for unity, peace and prosperity- compared to the current one.

He recalled that Nigeria had at independence in 1960, adopted the national anthem titled “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”.

“The concept, phraseology and the ideological connotation of the anthem, conveyed and epitomised the significant historic heritage of our dear country, Nigeria.

“The anthem upon rendition inspired and stimulated deep sense of patriotism in Nigerians. It was symbolic of Nigeria’s cultural heritage and nationhood.

“In retrospect, the national anthem served as regular and constant reminder of our journey as a nation and provoked feelings of nostalgia and fond memories of the country’s early years”, he said.

Opeyemi noted that at this momentous time in the nation’s history, “it is imperative that we utilise any platform that seeks to unite the country and promote patriotism among Nigerians.

“Accordingly, 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.

“The rendition and musical accuracy of the anthem, is better in content and context than the current one.”

“The new Anthem “Nigeria We Hail Thee” will inspire in us the zeal to build a fully integrated and indivisible nation, whereby all citizens will live in unity and harmony.

“I implore you all my distinguished colleagues, to support the expeditious passage of this bill.

“It is in line with the renewed reorientation of our collective values and national conscientisation efforts of the current administration.”

Supporting the bill, Sen. Jimoh Ibrahim (APC-Ondo) queried the current anthem saying that the “language” of the anthem was “elusive”.

Quoting one of the stanza of the anthem which is “Arise oh compatriot”, Ibrahim said “what about non compatriots. How do we convert them to become compatriots.

“That is why I said this language is elusive. And it’s not good for any reason. The old anthem, Nigeria we hail thee, comes to the mind of Nigerians.

“We must thrive as a nation, as a Senate to rise above elusiveness of language. This current national anthem has not solved any problem.

“The only way to help our nation to grow is not to add to the complexity of argument around our nation”.

For Sen. Victor Umeh (LP-Anambra), the old national anthem which we are seeking to bring back, is the national anthem that needs all the ingredients of a nation.

“The citizens should be able to look up to the nation, Nigeria as their own country. That is why the opening says “Nigeria we hail thee. In other words, we are placing Nigeria above all considerations as citizens of the country.”

He said that a national anthem was supposed to be motivational noting that the words contained in the old national anthem were motivational.

“Aside from putting to bear our history, our composition as a people, It emphasises brotherhood”, Umeh said.

Similarly, Sen. Diket Plang (APC-Plateau) said that unity could be acquired when there was brotherhood, and when there was brotherhood, there would be unity.

“We have diversity. By the end of the day, we are binded by the fact that we are brothers. The reintroduction of brotherhood in our national anthem is very fundamental”, he said.

In his remarks, President of the Senate Godswill Akpabio committed the bill to the Senate Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs to report back to the Senate as soon as possible.

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