A federal government delegate to the ongoing National Conference, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Wednesday called for change of the present name of Nigeria to a proposed one he called “Airegin” because the present name Nigeria was twisted by the colonialists.
He added that the name change would give the country a clean break from the past.
Ozekhome, who spoke while contributing at plenary to the debate on report of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government with Gen. Ike Nwachukwu and Mohammed Umara Kumalia as co-Chairmen, also called for a reversal from the present National Anthem to the former and older one which was written by Taiwo Akinwumi, adding that the old flag that was designed with the rising sun on it should also be re-introduced against the backdrop that it was peculiar with all parts of the country.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who noted that when the country replaces all these, it would help wash-off the image of colonial legacy, added that “It (Nigeria) was a colonial imposed name which should be changed to reflect originality.
“I want to move that this conference should consider changing the name of the country to reflect our originality. The name Nigeria was a colonial imposition which must be corrected. The name was given to the country by Lady Flora Shaw who later became Lady Lugard”.
According to Ozekhome, prior to the change of name, Nigeria as a country was then known as the Northern and Southern Protectorates meaning Niger Area or areas within the River Niger by Lady Flora Shaw, adding, “The country was known formally as the Southern and Northern Protectorates before the name change. It was changed because they said it was too long for them to pronounce.
“I suggested that the name should be changed from Nigeria to Airegin. It was just gotten when you write the name Nigeria from right to left”, he said.
On the additional states approved for creation in the South East geo-political zone, while disagreeing with a fellow Federal Government delegate and Environmental activist, Ledum Mitee, who opposed the states’ creation, Ozekhome said that he supported the move as it will integrate the zone into the system.
He also gave his support to the Committee’s recommendation for states to serve as federating units, stressing that there is need for states to have their own constitution to reflect their peculiarities.