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Nigeria, We Hail Thee: Reps pass Bill to revert to old national anthem

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House of Representatives Pass Bill to Revert to Old National Anthem.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill requiring Nigeria to revert to its old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” Before the day’s proceedings commenced, the House held a 40-minute executive session to deliberate on urgent matters, including the national anthem bill.

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Sponsored by House Leader Julius Ihonvbare, the bill was presented for first and second readings on Thursday, considered in the committee of the whole, approved, and read for the third time.

The National Anthem Bill states, “On the date of commencement of this Bill, the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee,’ which is prescribed in the Schedule to this Bill.”

The bill also emphasizes that the national anthem is a national symbol and sign of authority, mandating respect for its dignity by all individuals and corporate entities. It requires the anthem to be performed at various official events, including Federal Executive Council and State Executive Council meetings, legislative sessions, oath-swearing ceremonies, flag-raising ceremonies, major celebrations, award ceremonies, national memorials, diplomatic activities, and sporting events.

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Clause four of the bill prohibits any alteration of the anthem’s lyrics, while clause five specifies respectful conduct during its performance. It mandates facing the flag during flag-raising ceremonies and requires uniformed personnel to salute while others stand respectfully.

The bill also tasks the Ministry of Information with organizing the review and approval of performance standards for the national anthem and recording the official version to be published on the Federal Government’s website. Primary and secondary schools are to include the anthem’s lyrics in civic education, and the second stanza of the former anthem will be designated as the national prayer.

Leading the debate, Ihonvbare stated that the bill aims to unify the nation with a symbol that embodies hope and commitment to national duty. He argued that returning to the old anthem would inspire a renewed sense of energy and dedication.

However, not all members supported the bill. Hon Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) emphasized the need for change and argued that the current anthem does not reflect the reality in Nigeria. Conversely, Minority Leader Kingsley Chinda questioned the bill’s necessity and relevance, noting that the current anthem was composed by Nigerians to break away from colonial influences. He argued that the bill does not add value and opposed its passage.

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

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