Home NEWSGOVERNMENT Senate Passes Bill to Restore Nigeria, We Hail Thee National Anthem

Senate Passes Bill to Restore Nigeria, We Hail Thee National Anthem

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The Senate has passed the National Anthem Bill 2024 to bring back the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” The bill, which swiftly passed both the first and second readings on Thursday, now awaits President Bola Tinubu’s approval to become law.

The legislation aims to replace the current anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” with “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” Lillian Jean Williams wrote the lyrics for “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” and Frances Berda composed the music when Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960. However, Olusegun Obasanjo’s military regime replaced the anthem in 1978.

Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate in Nigeria at the time of independence, wrote the lyrics for “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” while Frances Berda composed the music. This anthem significantly shaped Nigeria’s national identity and unity during the 1960s and late 1970s.

Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele emphasized the anthem’s impact, stating, “Upon rendition, it inspired deep patriotism among Nigerians. Those who lived through that era recognize its crucial role in our nation’s history, evoking nostalgia and fond memories of our early years.”

On Monday, the Senate began a public hearing on an Act to provide for the National Anthem of Nigeria and related matters. Bamidele, representing Senate President Godswill Akpabio at the hearing, mentioned that the second stanza of the existing national anthem would become the national prayer. However, he noted that further consultation might be necessary.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, urged that the amendment should involve wider consultation rather than being solely decided by legislative fiat. He suggested that ensuring the change reflects the wishes of all Nigerians is crucial.

Additionally, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, highlighted a line from the previous anthem addressing oppression. He agreed with the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency that the change was overdue. Ozekhome recalled proposing the idea of changing the anthem 10 years ago at the 2014 CONFAB, where 490 delegates debated and supported it. He also criticized the current Nigerian flag, stating that it is bland compared to those of the US and South Africa.

Last week, the bill to revert to “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” passed its second reading in the Senate before eventually being passed on Tuesday. The House of Representatives has also passed the bill. For the return to the old anthem to take effect, the bill must be harmonized by both chambers and receive the president’s approval.

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