House of Reps Pushes for Revival of Old National Anthem

By Joke Kujenya

A LEGISLATIVE MOVE to bring back Nigeria’s old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” saw swift progression through the House of Representatives, where it passed through its first, second, and third readings in a single session on Thursday.

The bill, championed by the majority leader Julius Ihonvbere, was met with notable support and swift approval in the plenary.

Ihonvbere highlighted the anthem’s potential to foster national unity and urged his fellow lawmakers to back the proposal and emphasized that the anthem would serve as a unifying force in a time when Nigeria needs cohesive national symbols.

However, the bill faced significant opposition from key members.

Minority leader Kingsley Chinda was particularly vocal, questioning the necessity and impact of reverting to the old anthem and he argued that legislative efforts should focus on enacting laws that offer tangible benefits to the country.

Chinda’s sentiments were echoed by Satomi Ahmed from Borno, who argued that the anthem change would not address pressing issues such as hunger and banditry. Ahmed called for legislative actions that would enhance Nigeria’s international image and drive progress.

Conversely, Ahmed Jaha, also from Borno, supported the bill, criticizing the current anthem, “Arise O Compatriots,” for failing to resonate with Nigerians. He argued that the old anthem had a stronger emotional and patriotic connection with the people.

The debate culminated in a voice vote overseen by Deputy Speaker Ben Kalu. Despite the loud opposition, Kalu confirmed the passage of the bill through its readings.

Simultaneously, the Senate saw parallel discussions, with the bill successfully passing its second reading.

Majority leader Opeyemi Bamidele spearheaded the debate, underscoring the need for an anthem that inspires patriotism.

Senator Victor Umeh supported this view, arguing that the old anthem’s emotive quality would better motivate citizens and foster a deeper sense of national pride.

Senator Plang Diket emphasized that the old anthem promoted brotherhood, a crucial element for national unity and pointed out the importance of respecting national symbols, noting the current state of the national flag as an example of waning patriotic fervor.

Senator Okechukwu Eze criticized the current anthem for lacking a resonant message, supporting the move to reinstate the former anthem for its unifying potential.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, put the bill to a voice vote, resulting in its passage through the second reading.

“Nigeria, We Hail Thee” was Nigeria’s national anthem from its independence on October 1, 1960, until it was replaced in 1978.

 The anthem is cherished by many for its emphasis on unity and national pride, reflecting the aspirations of a newly independent nation.

Nigeria’s National Anthem Lyrics

Nigeria, we hail thee

Our dear native land

Though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand

Nigerians all, are 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.

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