AGF to NASS: Don’t enact law on National Anthem by legislative fiat 

Move by the National Assembly to expeditiously pass a bill for an act on National Anthem with the aim of replacing the current one with the old, suffered set back Monday in Senate with a warning that such an important issue should not be done by legislative fiat.

Speaking at the public hearing on the bill organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice , Prince Lateef Fagbemi , warned that the issue of National Anthem should not be treated with legislative fiat.

He said as commendable as the move by both chambers of the National Assembly may be on enacting law on National Anthem or replacing the current one with the old, Nigerians must be carried along.

He said: “In some cases, national anthem emerges from open national competition among interested citizens. In other instances, the proposed national anthem is subjected to 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.

“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.”

In his submission at the public hearing, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, recommended that the scope should be expanded to include a robust issue on national identity rather than limiting it to change of national anthem.

The minister who was represented by the Director-General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr  Lanre Issa-Onilu, noted that some lines in the old national anthem does not make  complete meaning. 

“The issue of national anthem is just a sub-sect. What we should be looking at is the National Identity Act,” he said.