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NASS Move to Return Old National Anthem Divides Nigerians

Last Thursday, Nigerians were surprised when a bill to replace the current National Anthem with the old one was introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill quickly passed its first, second, and third readings on the same day.

On Monday, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, spoke out against the fast-tracked passage of the bill. He argued that changing the National Anthem should involve more public consultation, such as a plebiscite or referendum, to ensure it reflects the people’s wishes.

Fagbemi stated, “The choice of a national anthem should not be decided only by legislative debate or presidential decree. It should involve wider citizen participation through public hearings and other consultative processes.”

Supporting broader participation, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, suggested that the issue be part of a larger discussion on national identity. Represented by NOA Director-General Lanre Issa-Onilu, Malagi noted that some lines in the old anthem lack clarity.

Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, also called for wider consultations but supported returning to the old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” He argued that the current anthem, adopted in 1978, lacks the inspiration to foster national pride.

Former APGA National Chairman Maxi Okwu criticized the lawmakers, saying they were ignoring pressing issues like economic hardship and insecurity. “This is a diversion from the real problems affecting Nigerians,” he said.

Entrepreneur Adebowale Wifred expressed frustration, saying, “Our lawmakers are ignoring serious issues like hunger and insecurity to focus on the national anthem. This won’t solve our problems.”

However, social worker Mrs. Vivian James supported the move, believing the old anthem’s lyrics better promote national unity. “The old anthem unites Nigerians across diverse ethnicities,” she stated.

Legal practitioner Marcellus Onah criticized the lawmakers for not addressing critical issues. “Focusing on the national anthem won’t solve the problems of corruption, inflation, or insecurity that Nigerians face today,” he said.

The debate over the national anthem continues, highlighting deep divisions in opinions on how to address Nigeria’s challenges.

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