Reverting to Old National Anthem Not a Priority, Says Senator Abaribe

In a significant statement addressing the current legislative discourse, Senator Enyi H. Abaribe, representing Abia South Senatorial District, has categorically declared that reverting to the old national anthem is not a priority for Nigeria at this critical juncture. As the country battles severe economic and security challenges, Abaribe emphasized the importance of focusing on more pressing issues such as inflation, unemployment, and insecurity.

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Reverting to Old National Anthem Not a Priority, Says Senator Abaribe

In a detailed memo addressed to the Senate Committee and made available to journalists on Monday, Senator Abaribe urged his constituents and the broader Nigerian public to reject the bill proposing a return to the old national anthem. He argued that the motivations behind this proposal are nebulous and self-serving, lacking a clear rationale that would benefit the nation as a whole.

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Senator Abaribe pointed out that the country is grappling with severe economic hardships, including high inflation rates, crippling unemployment, and widespread insecurity. “At a time when Nigerians are struggling with these significant issues, diverting attention to revert to an old anthem from the colonial era is both impractical and insensitive,” he stated.

He underscored that the current national anthem, adopted in 1978, has become an integral part of Nigeria’s identity. The anthem’s second stanza, often referred to as the National Prayer, embodies a unifying message and is a crucial element of national ceremonies. Abaribe argued that removing this component would eliminate a significant unifying factor and further divide the nation.

Revisiting the colonial-era anthem, according to Abaribe, does not enhance national unity but rather revives memories of a divisive past. The old anthem includes terms like ‘Tribes’, ‘Tongues’, and ‘Natives’, which he believes are reminiscent of Nigeria’s troubled history and contributed to the civil war. “Reverting to an anthem that harks back to our troubled past as a nation does not enhance unity,” he emphasized. “It rather reminds us all of nomenclatures such as ‘Tribes, Tongues, Natives’ which divides us as a nation and led to the unfortunate civil war.”

Abaribe stressed that national symbols should promote cohesion and reflect the progress made since independence, rather than reverting to symbols of colonial subjugation. The current national anthem and the accompanying pledge, which is recited by Nigerians at official functions, foster a sense of patriotism and collective identity. Abandoning these symbols would mean abrogating the pledge, further diminishing the sense of national unity.

Highlighting the immediate concerns of his constituents, Abaribe noted that the people of Abia South are more concerned with economic policies that directly impact their daily lives. The high cost of living, driven by the price of petrol at 1,000 naira per liter in Aba and electricity rates at 224 naira per kWh, is a primary concern. Additionally, the more than 100% increase in food prices has placed a significant burden on households.

“The people of my district are desirous of policies and plans to reduce the pump price of petrol, electricity costs, and food prices,” he stated. “These are the real issues that need urgent attention, not an anthem written by a colonial citizen of Britain and bequeathed to Nigerians at independence in 1960.”

Senator Abaribe acknowledged the efforts of the Federal Government under President Bola A. Tinubu to address the economic challenges facing the nation. He expressed support for initiatives aimed at ameliorating inflation, unemployment, and insecurity. However, he reiterated that reverting to the old anthem is not aligned with these priorities.

“We support the efforts of the Federal Government to tackle these critical issues, but changing the national anthem should not be on the agenda 46 years after its adoption by Nigerians,” he said.

The bill seeking to revert to the old Nigerian National Anthem recently passed its second reading in the Senate. Senate President Godswill Akpabio has referred the bill to the Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, as well as Internal Affairs, for further legislative action. The committees have been tasked with reviewing the bill and reporting back as soon as possible.

Senator Abaribe’s strong opposition to the bill highlights the broader debate on national identity and priorities. As Nigeria continues to navigate complex economic and social challenges, the discussion on national symbols and their relevance remains a critical issue for policymakers and citizens alike.

In conclusion, Senator Abaribe’s stance reflects a call for pragmatism and a focus on immediate issues affecting Nigerians. His argument against reverting to the old national anthem underscores the need for policies that address current economic hardships and promote national unity. As the legislative process continues, it remains to be seen how this debate will unfold and what decisions will be made regarding Nigeria’s national symbols.

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