Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. Source: Today News Africa. - Photo: 2024

Debate Brews Over New National Anthem Adopted by Nigerian President

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | 3 June 2024 (IDN) — Nigerian President Bola Tinubu hardly anticipated a dust up when he signed a law restoring the country’s 1960 anthem “Nigeria We Hail Thee”—and deleting “Arise O Compatriots”—a tune written by a group of Nigerians in 1978 in the aftermath of a brutal civil war.

The move was met with disappointment and frustration. Critics said the president’s priorities were “mixed up” and insensitive to the plight of people dealing with inflation and insecurity.

The bill to restore the old anthem was introduced in parliament and passed within one week—exceptionally fast for Nigeria, where most bills take months to be considered.

The speedy amendment rankled many Nigerians. Approved on the day of the president’s first year anniversary, the anthem came off as a hasty attempt at contriving a feel-good moment to distract from a difficult year for residents. Inflation in the country, for example, has reached a 28-year high of 33.2%

“What do we need a national anthem for?” asked Lukeman Ademola, a resident. “What is the national anthem doing in our lives; how does it even help the masses?… Look at people suffering; the prices of commodities, the prices of goods and services are just going higher. How is this going to help us?”

“Changing the Nigerian en, to the song written by colonizers is a stupid decision and it’s shameful that nobody in the National Assembly thought to stand against it,” said Fola Folayan on Twitter (now ‘X’).

The new anthem was played publicly for the first time at a legislative session attended by Tinubu, who marked his one year in office as president on 29 May.

Many Nigerians, however, took to social media to say they won’t be singing the new anthem, among them Oby Ezekwesili, a former education minister and presidential aspirant.

“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,” Ezekwesili posted on X.

Words to the former anthem, first stanza:

“Arise, O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey. To serve our fatherland. With love and strength and faith. The labor of our heroes past, shall never be in vain. To serve with heart and might. One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.”

Words to the new anthem: first stanza:

“Nigeria we hail thee. Our own dear native land. Though tribes and tongue may differ. In brotherhood we stand. Nigerians all, are proud to serve. Our sovereign motherland.” [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. Source: Today News Africa.

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