Senate Joins Reps, Passes Bill to Restore Nigeria’s Old Anthem

28th May 2024

The old anthem was in use until 1978 when it was replaced with the current one, “Arise O Compatriots.”

However, beginning last week, the two arms of the National Assembly began processing the legislation to revert to the old anthem.

While the House immediately passed the bill through first, second and third readings last week, the Senate referred the bill to its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to subject it to a public hearing.

The committee, which is chaired by Sen. Mohammed Monguno, presented its report to the floor on Tuesday.

Monguno, while presenting the report, said for the first time, the national anthem was given a legal backing by the legislature.

He explained that before now, the country’s anthem had no legal backing.

Monguno defended the bill, saying, “ The purpose of the bill is apt and timely at this critical period in the history of Nigeria.”

He further said the old anthem would inspire patriotism and provide the necessary platform for sensitising Nigerians by the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

The senator also argued that the old anthem would promote and strengthen the unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigerians.

In addition, Monguno stated that the committee raised objections to a position taken by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, who held that the bill must first be subjected to zonal public hearings, a referendum and a resolution of the Federal Executive Council before its passage.

He noted that the committee disagreed with Fagbemi because the Senate followed its procedure of passing bills and did not need to buy into the suggestions of the AGF.

“Mr. President, we disagree with the AGF because what he is saying is applicable when it has to do with the amendment of the constitution.

“This is just a bill that we are passing. We don’t need a resolution of the FEC or to hold any public hearings”, Monguno added.

The Senate went ahead to consider the bill and wholly endorsed it at the Committee of the Whole.

However, the former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, opposed the use of the word, ‘tribe, in the first stanza of the bill.

Oshiomhole noted that though he was not against the bill itself, he would not support the use of the word ‘tribe’.

“I am not a tribesman, and I am not a native man; please let it be on record”, he told the session.

Senate Leader, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele, stood up to make more explanations on why there should be no misgivings about the bill.

“Let’s not try and mislead the public. The tribe is not necessarily a primitive person”, he explained as he gave a dictionary definition of the tribe to mean a social group of numerous families having a shared ancestry and language.

The Senate proceeded to pass the bill for the third time.