The bill seeks to enact the National Symbols Act, 2012, defining a procedure for States to follow to have their flags, symbols and other emblems.
It also seeks to expressly authorise the use of State Flag, State Coat of Arms and how it should be used vis-a’ vis the National Flag.
The Nigerian National Symbol includes the National Flags, National Coat of Arms, National Anthem and National Pledge.
The Flags and Coats of Arm Act of 2004 does not provide for States flags expressly, but it permits it by making reference to it.
Leading the debate on the general principles of thebill , Rep. Karimi Sunday(PDP-Kogi) said the bill seeks to correct some abnormalities in the old Act.
He noted that some States currently have flags and symbols without following the correct procedures, and displaying them without the National Flag.
“ It will be wrong for a State to display its own flag without the National Flag.’’
The lawmaker said that the bill would impact on the psyche of an average Nigerian to think of himself as a Nigerian first before he thinks of himself as member of his “ tribe, religion, ethnic group or State.“
Rep. Sunday urged his colleagues to support the bill, saying that it would foster national unity and instil patriotism among Nigerians.
“ Nigeria no doubt is at one of the most challenging times in her national history where various factors militating against the Nigerian State keeps rearing its head.
“ All efforts geared at fostering unity, nationalism and patriotism should therefore be encouraged, while all factors repudiating the Nigerian State must be discouraged.’’
In his contribution, Rep. Leo Ogor (PDP-Delta ) expressed his support for the bill, saying the that “ the Green White Green is the symbol of our authority.’’
He expressed concern that some states were having their own flags, saying that if the trend continues, Local Government might also want to have their own flags.
He averred that any state that desires to have its own flag “ should know that there is only one nation.’’
“ The National Flag should be our only flag, it is our national identity.’’ Ogor said.
In his remarks, Rep.Ossai Ossai (PDP-Delta) aligned himself with the views of Rep. Sunday that the bill was intended to unite the country.
“ This bill will promote patriotism, a feeling of united Nigeria and Sovereign State.’’
However, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila(ACN-Lagos) deferred in his views, saying that states having their flags or other symbols does not connote that Nigeria was not a united nation.
He said that any states could have their flags side by side with the National Flag.
“ They can go side by side, if National Flag is disrespected, we can bring an amendment and not repeal.
“ I don’t think the bill should pass through the second reading.’’
The bill however, scaled second reading when it was put to vote by the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Emeka Ihedioha.
He referred it to the House Committee on Justice for further legislative work.
Meanwhile, the House had adjourned plenary to Dec.11 to allow House Committees complete work on 2013 appropriation bill.(NAN)