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Senate Passes Bill To Revert To Old National Anthem, ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’

The bill, which speedily passed first and second readings on Thursday, now awaits assent into law by President Bola Tinubu.


The Nigerian Senate.

 

 

 

The Senate has passed the National Anthem Bill 2024 to revert to the old national anthem, “Nigeria, we hail thee”.

The bill, which speedily passed first and second readings on Thursday, now awaits assent into law by President Bola Tinubu.

The Senate passed legislation to swap the national anthem from “Arise, O Compatriots” to “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” The old anthem, composed when Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960, will replace the current anthem.

READ ALSO: Return To Old Anthem: ‘Will It Solve Current Hardship?’ – Nigerians React

The bill seeks to revive the anthem that was dropped in 1978 during Olusegun Obasanjo’s military administration.

Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who lived in Nigeria during its independence, penned the lyrics for “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” while Frances Berda composed the music. The anthem played a significant role in shaping Nigeria’s national identity and unity during the 1960s and late 1970s.

Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele emphasised the anthem’s impact: “Upon rendition, it inspired deep patriotism among Nigerians. Those who lived through that era recognise 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, who represented the President of the Senate Godswill Akpabio at the hearing, said the second stanza of the existing national anthem shall be the national prayer.

However, he said if considered necessary, further consultation would be had on the matter.

In his contribution, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, said the amendment should not come only by legislative fiat, but should be subjected to a wider consultation.

He stated that the reversal was not out of place but should involve a wider process to ensure it is a true reflection of the generality of the wishes of all Nigerians.

Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, pointed out one of the lines from the previous anthem, which addresses the issue of oppression, while corroborating with the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency that the change of the nation’s anthem was long overdue.

He recalled that he mooted the idea of changing the anthem 10 years ago at the 2014 CONFAB through a motion and the 490 delegates debated it and supported it.

According to him, the present Nigerian flag of green white green is too bland and not inspirational compared to that of the US and South Africa.

Last week, the bill seeking to make a provision for Nigeria to revert to its old national anthem “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” scaled through a second reading at the Senate before it was eventually passed on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives has passed the bill.

For the return to the old anthem to take effect, the bill will have to be harmonised by the two chambers and get the President’s nod.

What are the lyrics to Nigeria We Hail Thee?

Nigeria, we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood, we stand,
Nigerians all, and proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.

Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign,
In peace or battle honour’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.

O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.