House of Representatives Passes Bill to Change the National Anthem

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill seeking to return Nigeria back to reciting the old National Anthem “Nigeria, We Hail Thee’ and discard the present one, ‘Arise O’ Compatriots.

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Sponsored by the House Leader, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, the bill speedily passed through first, second reading, considered and approved at the Committee of the Whole and passed for third reading at plenary

The legislation is titled, “Bill For An Act to Provide for the National Anthem of Nigeria, and for Matters Related Thereto.”

According to the bill “on the date of commencement of the Bill, the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” which is prescribed in the Schedule to the proposed legislation.

It added that the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shal be a national symbol and sign of authority, and all persons, individuals or corporate entities, shall respect the national anthem and preserve the dignity of the national anthem.

The proposed legislation provided that the national anthem shall be performed and sung on occasions such as: opening and closing ceremonies of Federal Executive Council, and State Executives Council meetings, opening and closing of sittings of Legislative Houses in Nigeria and Constitutional oath-swearing ceremonies.

Others are: “Major celebrations, major award ceremonies, major commemorative ceremonies, national memorial ceremonies and the like, which are organised by MDAs, major diplomatic activities, major sporting events, other occasions as may from time to time, be determined by the minister responsible for education with the consent of the President.”

It stated that the performance and singing of the national anthem shall follow the lyrics prescribed by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The new law prescribed 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 organise pupils and students to learn the national anthem.The second stanza of the former national anthem shall be the national prayer,” the bill reads further.

Presenting the Bill, the House Leader said that the old anthem gives a sense of commitment, sense of dedication and a desire to move Nigeria forward, hence the need for a change.

“Mr Speaker a time comes in the life of every organisation or a nation when the people must sit down look at the past , the present, the future and have the courage, the sense of a nation to define , design the way forward. I believe that Nigeria is at that stage and momentum.

“Great men have changed history. Mr Speaker, this bill is straightforward. It is a bill that seeks to enjoin us to at our Anthem as a national symbol and sign if authority. One that will pull us together, will give us hope and courage, a sense of duty to the nation.

“That does not necessarily deny the reality and that is the maintain of contemporary societies. They deny reality, they pretend racism doesn’t exist, ethnicity doesn’t exist, poverty doesn’t exist. They rationalise this by looking at GMP, GDP and the reality stares people in the face and that is when you are faced with the realities then you can attack and deal with it frontally.

“So it seeks to say that as a people as Nigerians fronting a new renewed hope moving forward, tackling the rot decay, dislocation and distortion of the past. We should go back to our old national anthem which gives us that energy, that sense of commitment, sense of dedication and a desire to move Nigeria forward.

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