Lawmakers in the House of Representatives were sharply divided yesterday over a bill that seeks to change the nation’s motto from “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” to “Justice and Equity, Peace and progress”.
The proposed legislation titled “a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) by changing the motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” to “Justice and Equity, Peace and Progress” thereby creating strong political will to achieve political objectives in Nigeria and for other related matters” was sponsored by Rep Chris Emeka Azubogu (APGA, Anambra).
It all begin after the sponsor, Rep Azubogu moved a motion that the bill be read the second time appealing to his colleagues to also amend the bill to read “Unity and Faith, Justice and Equity, Peace and Progress”. But following the opposition mounted against the bill, the lawmaker was forced to withdraw it in order to create room for more consultation.
Azubogu had in his presentation submitted that there was a compelling need to change the motto to a new one to reflect the realities on ground in the country, stressing that the absence of justice and equity was part of the problems being experienced today.
He was supported by Hon. Matthew Omegara (APGA, Imo) who argued that it was not out of place to amend the motto because it can foster the unity that is already contained in the motto.
According to Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi), the bill is germane because it is being proposed at a time Nigeria is seeking for peace. He added that Nigeria is a country “founded on unity, peace justice, and equity so the proposed amendment should be adopted”.
Also supporting the bill, Rep. Sadik Asema (PDP, Kogi), said the proposed amendment was apt but it should be “unity, peace, justice and equity” because there cannot be equity without justice.
However, the bill met stiff opposition in Rep Chris Etah (PDP, Cross River) who argued that there was nothing wrong with the subsisting motto of “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”. He argued that unity and peace are inherent in the “unity and faith” so they should discountenance the proposal.
Also kicking against bill, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje said the proposed amendment was too long, explaining that the present motto was apt and should not be tampered with.
But Rep. Friday Itulah (PDP, Edo), observed that 50 years independence, there was need to review the entity called Nigeria and that was why the ongoing conference was convoked. He however advised that the status quo should remain as regards the motto.