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National Anthem: Arise O Compatriots out, Nigeria We Hail Thee back, as Tinubu signs bill

It is official. Nigeria has reverted to the old National Anthem, Nigeria. We Hail Thee. The President, Bola Tinubu, signed the National Anthem Bill 2024 into law today after it has been passed by the National Assembly. Thus, Arise O Compatriots is now dead and confined to the archives and history books.

The Nigeria, We Hail Thee, National Anthem was composed at Nigeria’s independence in 1960 and was replaced by the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978 with Arise O Compatriots.

A British woman, Lillian Jean Williams had written the ” Nigeria, We Hail Thee, National Anthem in 1959 while the music of the anthem was composed by Frances Berda. The Nigeria we hail Thee National Anthem faced many criticisms over the years primarily because the composer was not a Nigeria and eventually the Government made moves that led to its abandonment in 1978.

The Arise O Compatriots National Anthem was composed in 1978. The Federal Government at the time had set up a committee to give Nigeria a home grown anthem that reflects the spirit and desires of the Nation. For this the committee opened a competition for the National Anthem and invited Nigerians from all works of life to compose and submit entries for the National Anthem. Out of all the submissions made, the National Anthem Committee chose five entries as winners and combined their entries into one National Anthem, Arise O compatriots. The music for the Anthem was subsequently composed by Nigeria’s Ben Odiase, the Director of the Nigerian Music Band.

The Nigerian law makers who passed the bill paving way for the reinstatement of the Nigeria We Hail Thee national Anthem say that they did so because it promotes a stronger sense of National Unity, peace and prosperity as compared to the Arise O compatriots Anthem. They further emphasize that arise O Compatriots is a product of a military regime. They argue that Arise O Compatriots lacked the resonance of national values, ethics and norms captured in the Nigeria We Hail Thee National Anthem

Commenting on this development, former federal minister of education, Obi Ezekwesili, said the national assembly majored on the minor issues, describing the lawmakers as “overpaid, unethical, incompetent and incapable Lawbreakers.” She shared on X, “Wow! With all the horrible indicators on the state of governance? So, it is a new National Anthem that is their priority? “I frankly thought it was a joke and gave it no attention. What an egregious case of “Majoring in the Minor” this is!

She also said in a *Public Service Announcement* on her X handle that ” Let it be known to all and sundry that I, Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili shall whenever asked to sing the Nigerian National Anthem sing: 1. Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey To serve our fatherland. This is my own National Anthem and let it be known that no one can suppress my right to dissent an obnoxious “law” that is repugnant to all that is of good conscience in Nigeria. Whatever else is #NotMyNationalAnthem.

Obi Ezekwesili's comments on the National Anthem bill 2024

She continued ”

Absolutely incredulous! “Native Land” . “Tribes”. In a 21st Century Nigeria, the country’s political class found a colonial National Anthem that has pejorative words like “Native Land” and “Tribes” to be admirable enough to foist on our Citizens without their consent. It is inevitable that there will be an ideological War between the Political Class and the Citizens of Nigeria. It is only but a matter of “When?”.

Obi Ezekwesili's comment on the change to the old national anthem - Nigeria we hail thee

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