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Don't Enact Law On National Anthem By Legislative Fiat — AGF to National Assembly

Posted by Thandiubani on Tue 28th May, 2024 -

The AGF offered words of caution on Monday in his submission to the public hearing on the bill organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) has called on the National Assembly to exercise caution in its attempt to change the national anthem.
He said the National Assembly should halt the move to expeditiously pass a bill for an Act on National Anthem with the major aim of replacing the current one with the old.
The AGF offered words of caution on Monday in his submission to the public hearing on the bill organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters.
While he acknowledged that the move to initiate a new National Assembly was laudable, Fagbemi maintained that it should not be treated with legislative fiat.
He said replacing the current with the old must enjoy the “buy-in of most Nigerians.
He said, “In some cases, the national anthem emerges from open national competition among interested citizens. In other instances, the proposed national anthem is subjected to a plebiscite or referendum before its eventual adoption or declaration.
“The essence of the foregoing is to secure the buy-in and confidence of the people and to ensure that the anthem meets their collective aspirations and suits their contemporary socio-political conditions.
“Against the background of the foregoing, I am of the considered opinion that the revered issue of choice of a national item should not come into being only by legislative fiat or presidential proclamation alone.
“Consequently, it is my considered view that the decision to change Nigeria’s National anthem, whether by replacing it with the old one or a new one, should 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, etc.
“The outcome of this process is bound to be a true reflection of the wishes of the generality or majority of Nigerians”.
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, who was represented by the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu, who also agreed with the AGF on wider consultations, also suggested discussion around national identity rather than limiting it to the change of the national anthem.
Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu identified certain lines in the old national anthem, which he noted do not have a complete meaning.
“The issue of the national anthem is just a sub-sect. What we should be looking at is the National Identity Act.
“The challenge we have today is that we do not value national identity, of which the national anthem is one. It is not about singing in schools; it is about learning it and imbibing it.”
A legal practitioner, who also expressed strong reservations about the expeditious passage of the bill, called for wider consultations for Nigerians to accept whatever national anthem is proposed and buy into it.
According to him, the National Assembly should widen the scope of participation in the process of coming up with such an act for general acceptability.
He, however, supported the move to replace the current “Arise, O Compatriots” national anthem with the “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” the country started with in October 1960.
He said such a move was long overdue since the current national anthem adopted in 1978 does not have the required gravitas and is not inspirational enough to ignite the passion and zeal for nationhood among Nigerians.
Other stakeholders in their submissions preferred the old national anthem to the current one.

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