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Nigerian Senate, House of Reps move to change National Anthem

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Both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed bills seeking to change Nigeria’s national anthem.

The bills, sponsored by Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele and House Leader Julius Ihonvbare, aim to replace the current anthem with the old components of the anthem that were changed in 1978 during the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime.

The old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” was replaced with the current one, “Arise, O Compatriots,” in 1978.

Lawmakers argue that the current national anthem is a product of the military junta and should be discarded to adequately capture the nation’s democratic values, integrity, and commitment to nationhood.

According to Senator Bamidele, “The current national anthem is a product of the military junta, decreed by the military, and therefore should be discarded to adequately capture our nation’s democratic values, integrity, and principally foster commitment to nationhood.” He added that the change is necessary to reflect the country’s transition from military rule to democracy.

Similarly, House Leader Ihonvbare stated, “As a people confronting a renewed hope and moving forward, tackling the decay and dislocation of the past, we should go back to the old national anthem which gives us that energy, sense of commitment, dedication, and desire to move forward.” He emphasized that the old anthem embodies the nation’s values and aspirations, and its restoration would serve as a unifying force for Nigerians.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives also prescribes the performance and singing of the national anthem at various occasions, including federal executive council meetings, state executive council meetings, legislative sessions, oath-swearing ceremonies, flag-raising ceremonies, major celebrations, award ceremonies, commemorative ceremonies, national memorial ceremonies, and other events as may be determined by the Minister responsible for education with the consent of the President.

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However, not everyone agrees with the change. Minority Leader Kingsley Chinda opposed the passage of the bill, questioning the essence and value of reverting to the old anthem. “What history are we trying to break now? I say no to this and stand to oppose it,” Chinda said.

He argued that the current anthem was composed by Nigerians and reflects the nation’s progress and unity.

Additionally, Ahmed Satomi, chairman of the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, opposed the bill, stating that reverting to the old anthem would not positively impact the wellbeing of Nigerians.

If the bills are eventually signed into law, Nigeria will revert to its pre-1978 national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.

The move, according to the legislators, is a significant step towards reclaiming the nation’s democratic heritage and fostering a sense of national identity.


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