Senate begins public hearing on proposed change of National Anthem

The Nigerian Senate has commenced a public hearing on a proposed Act to provide for the National Anthem of Nigeria and related matters.

Led by Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele, who represented the Senate President at the hearing, discussions centered on the potential changes to the national anthem.

Bamidele disclosed that under the proposed Act, the second stanza of the existing national anthem would serve as the national prayer. However, he emphasized the importance of further consultations if necessary before finalizing any amendments.

In his contribution, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, advocated for a comprehensive consultation process rather than a mere legislative fiat for the proposed amendment.

He stressed the need for broad-based consensus to ensure that any changes reflect the collective wishes of all Nigerians.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, emphasized a line from the previous anthem addressing oppression, echoing the Director General of the National Orientation Agency’s view that changing the national anthem is long overdue.

He also recalled proposing this change a decade ago during the 2014 CONFAB, where it was debated by 490 delegates but ultimately dismissed.

Ozekhome noted that the current Nigerian flag of green, white, green lacks inspiration compared to those of the US and South Africa.

Additionally, he suggested renaming Nigeria to ‘Iregime,’ arguing that the current name is burdensome. He cited examples of other countries like The Netherlands, Pakistan, France, Russia, Turkey, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and 12 others that have undergone similar changes, which he believes are crucial for development.

Ozekhome stressed the need for a national referendum to address these issues comprehensively, asserting that a mere amendment to the constitution will not solve Nigeria’s problems.

Last week, a bill seeking to revert to Nigeria’s old national anthem passed its second reading in the Senate.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters for further deliberation and is expected to be reported back to the house in two weeks.

Similarly, at the House of Representatives, a bill advocating for the return to the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” was successfully passed.

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