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  • News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: May 28, 2024

AGF calls for nationwide consultation on old National Anthem Bill

AGF calls for nationwide consultation on old National Anthem

Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has urged the National Assembly to conduct thorough consultations before deciding on the bill to bring back the old national anthem. 

Speaking at a public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters in Abuja, Fagbemi stressed the importance of gathering input from Nigerians before the bill is passed.

“Against the background of the preceding, I believe 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.

“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.

According to News Agency of Nigeria, the minister of information and national orientation, Mohammed Idris, recommended that the scope should be expanded to include a robust issue on national identity rather than limiting it to change of national anthem.

Idris, represented by the director-general, National Orientation Agency, NOA, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said that some lines in the old national anthem had no complete meaning.

“The issue of national anthem is just a sub-sect. What we should be looking at is the National Identity Act.”

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mike Ozekhome, supported the call to replace the current “Arise O Compatriots” national anthem with the ” Nigeria, We Hail Thee”, the country started with in October 1960. 

He said such a move was long overdue since the national anthem adopted in 1978, does not have the required gravitas and is not inspirational to fire the passion and zeal for nationhood among Nigerians.

Ozekhome expressed delight that the motion to return to the old national anthem which he moved at the 2014 National Conference, was becoming a reality after a decade.

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Muhammad Monguno, said the National Assembly 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 the proposed legislation,” he said.

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