Justice Minister advises NASS on National Anthem bill

Screenshot 2023 10 16 at 10.55.08 AM

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), has urged the National Assembly to consult widely before passing the bill seeking the return of the old National Anthem.

The Minister said this on Monday, at a public hearing by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in Abuja.

Fagbemi urged the two chambers of the National Assembly to allow inputs from Nigerians before passing taking a decision on the bill.

“Against the background of the foregoing, I am of the considered opinion that the revered issue of choice of a national anthem should not come into being only by legislative fiat, or presidential proclamation alone.

“It is not out of place for Nigeria to be guided by the process of evolution of a national anthem in other jurisdictions.

“Consequently, it is my considered view that the decision to change Nigeria’s National Anthem whether by replacing it with the old one or a new one, should be subjected to a wider process of citizen.

“There should be participation through zonal public hearings, resolutions of the Federal Executive Council, Council of State, National and State Assemblies, etcetera,” he said.

He said that for most African countries, the national anthem symbolised the end of colonialism, hence, former British colonies jettisoned God Bless the Queen to adopt their home-made national anthems which were all written by their own citizens.

“I appreciate the opportunity extended to me to make observations on the very salient issue of reversion of national anthem to the previous one which was adopted in 1960, following independence from the United Kingdom.

“I would like to observe that it is generally accepted that a national anthem is considered a major symbol of national identity and culture,” he said.

Fagbemi said that a national anthem was meant to reflect the people’s hopes, values and history.

“A national anthem is expected to enjoy universal acceptance and veneration among the citizens for it to attain the status of an official song that commands respect, patriotism and national consciousness,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Muhammad Monguno said the National Assembly (NASS) had gone on with its plans to pass the bill.

“The Bill has passed first and second reading at the Senate and the Public Hearing was advertised. Those who are not here have probably agreed with intendment of the proposed legislation,” he said.