SENATE MOVES TO LEGALISE NATIONAL ANTHEM
In a bid to give legal backing to the National Anthem, the Senate on Thursday commenced the process enacting a law aimed at standardizing its rendition with the aim of enhancing the level of patriotism of Nigerians.
The intending law with the titled: A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Nigerian National Anthem and for other matters Connected Therein, and sponsored by Senator Osita Izunaso scaled through its second reading on the floor of the Senate yesterday.
While leading the debate, Senator Izunaso (PDP-Imo) said even though the Nigerian National Anthem encapsulates the people's collective pride and patriotism, it is however not backed by any legal instrument.
Senator Izunaso regrettable that successive governments had either out of oversight or lack of political will failed to make equitable law to critically address the issue thereby exposed the National Anthem to the vagaries and vicissitude of the future.
According to Senator Izunaso; 'our National Anthem if not backed by law. It might be rightly jettisoned into the historical dustbin if any president feels he does not like it. It is on this note that this Bill seeks, among other things, to give a legal framework to our National Anthem and gives protection to it against unwarranted tampering and abuse.'
He also said the Bill further seek to make the playing of the Nigerian Anthem a revered, respectful and solemn occasion, adding that it equally prescribes penalties for anyone who contravenes any provision of the Act in any way with intent to bring into contempt or ridicule the National Anthem or contravenes any of the provision of the Act.
Senator Izunaso further said: 'As of now there is no legislature on the use of the National Anthem. What the Bill therefore seeks to achieve is to give legislative recognition for the National Anthem and will not have a financial impact on the operations of the government if passed.'
Majority of senators that contributed to the debate on the Bill spoke positively in favour of the Bill which they noted would help strengthen the sense of our national identity within and outside of Nigeria when eventually passed into law. In her contribution, Senator Nkechi Nwaogu (PDP Abia) noted that the National Anthem signifies the sovereignty and clear identity of any nation as well as an acceptance of the goodwill of any nation.
In the words of Senator Nwaogu: 'We presently sing the Anthem without respect for the lyrics while people are often in clear disobedience of the tenets during its rendition.' In his own contribution, Senator Anthony Manzo (PDP-Taraba) argued that since the Anthem was a sign of national identity and pride, it should be translated into the different Nigerian dialects.