National Assembly Passes Bill to Change National Anthem from ‘Arise O Compatriots’ to ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee’

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Senate, just like the House of Representatives, yesterday, passed a bill to change the current National Anthem, “Arise O Compatriots,” to the country’s old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.”

The proposed legislation was titled, “National Anthem Bill, 2024.”

The bill passed third reading after the upper chamber considered the report of its joint Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Federal Character, and that and Inter Government Affairs.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, had at a public hearing on the matter on Monday, advised the federal lawmakers to engage in wider consultations before passing the bill.

The bill was read for the first and second time last Thursday, at both chambers.

It received an accelerated hearing at the lower house as it was read for the first, second and third time.

The bill however passed second reading at the Senate and the Presiding Officer, Godswill Akpabio, referred it to its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative actions.

The bill would be transmitted to President Bola Tinubu for assent.

If assented to by Tinubu, it would be the first time Nigeria’s national anthem would be given legal backing.

The Chairman of the committee, who is the Senator representing Borno North, Tahir Mongunu, while presenting the report of the Committee during plenary said the bill seeks to give a legal framework to the national anthem, “so that it can bite and bite with all the legal powers embedded in it.”

He noted that the bill does not need to be subjected to a wider process of citizen participation through zonal public hearings, resolutions of the Federal Executive Council, Council of State, National and State Assemblies, among others.

He insisted that the bill does not require any constitutional amendment but required to be read first, second and third time after a public hearing.

Presenting the committee’s report,  Monguno however said the new national anthem was apt as it represented the country’s people, culture, values and aspirations.

“The bill is in tandem with the spirit of unity. It will undoubtedly inspire a zeal for patriotism and cooperation. It will promote cultural heritage. Changing the national anthem will chart a path to greater unity,” Tahir said.

He then recommended that the bill be passed.

He said, “The parliament considers this bill important and the National Anthem is a representation of the country’s history, culture and people.

“The proposed bill is apt, timely and important.”

For his part, Akpabio noted that the AGF does not have full understanding of how bills are passed.

The bill was consequently read for the third time and passed.

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