The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Sunday described the adoption of Oduduwa anthem in public secondary schools in Ondo State as a very serious assault on the integrity of Nigeria.
The state government had, in a circular dated May 6, 2021, signed by Tolu Adeyemi, Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Teaching Service Commission and addressed to the Tutors-General, All TESCOM zonal directors and principals of public secondary schools in the state, said it was mandatory to recite the Oduduwa anthem in all functions in public secondary schools across the state.
The circular read: “The present administration of Arakunrin Okuwarotimi Akeredolu has adopted Oduduwa anthem as part of the civic responsibility of all residents in the state.
“To this end, the singing of the Oduduwa anthem has become mandatory at all functions, in all public secondary schools in the state.
“Therefore, all school principals and other top functionaries in the public secondary schools are enjoined to adopt, teach and encourage the singing of Oduduwa anthem at all functions, especially at the morning assembly in all schools.
The state executive council had recently approved the adoption of the Oduduwa anthem which projects the virtues, tradition and culture of the Yoruba race.
Akeredolu had said the anthem would be rendered immediately after the National Anthem at state functions.
Reacting on Sunday, Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Northern Elders Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said: “If this is true, it represents a very serious assault on the integrity of the country by people who have sworn to uphold and protect it.”
He said such an action cannot be defended in any terms other than a provocation and a play at the gallery seeking to widen the damaging divide between Nigerians along ethnic and regional lines.
He said: “There’s only one anthem our children should sing and recognize. If there are other symbols with cultural significance they should be made to identify with, it should not be elevated to the level of a national anthem, or even supersede it.
“It the federal government is on its toes protecting the boundaries of our unity and national integrity, it would challenge this in court. It would also raise its levels of vigilance over the drift by politicians enjoying the benefits of our constitution who are pandering to very dangerous divisive tendencies”.