Reverting To Old National Anthem Not Priority

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The decision by the government to revert to the old National Anthem in Nigeria has sparked a range of reactions among within the country.

President Bola Tinubu, just signed the National Anthem Bill 2024, which formally reinstates the old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”, into law, shifting from the “Arise, O Compatriots”.

The “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” anthem was used from 1960, when Nigeria gained independence, until it was replaced by “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978.

There has been a flurry of reactions to the news of the reinstatement of the old national anthem.

On X.com, a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili  said she would not revert to the old national anthem.

According to her, no one can suppress her right to dissent from what she described as an “obnoxious law” repugnant to all who are of good conscience in Nigeria.

Several Nigerians have also taken to social media to express their displeasure with the new law.

Some Nigerians have expressed disapproval for the change which they said came with little consultation.

The newly re-adopted anthem, which begins “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”, was written by Lillian Jean Williams in 1959 and composed by Frances Berda.

Speaking on his first anniversary in office, President Tinubu said the anthem symbolised Nigeria’s diversity.

But many have questioned his priorities amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Reacting online, some Nigerians said the country had more pressing problems such as insecurity, rising inflation and a foreign exchange crisis.

X user @Gospel_rxx posted: “A new national anthem is the priority for Tinubu & Co at a time like this, When our people can’t eat, insecurity is rife & life is hell? What a sordid joke!!. Lets see how they implement it..”.

Another X user Fola Folayan said it was shameful that parliament had rushed through the bill.

“Changing the Nigerian national anthem written by a Nigerian, to the song written by colonizers is a wrong decision and it’s shameful that nobody in the National Assembly thought to stand against it”.

She then posted the words of “Arise O Compatriots” – the anthem which has been used for the past 46 years.

However,  some including former presidential aide Bashir Ahmad had an interesting view as Nigerians continue to debate the issue on social media.

“After the change of our national anthem, some people are now calling for the name Nigeria and the national flag to be changed as well. What do you think? Should we keep the name Nigeria?”

But Tahir Mongunu, chairman of the parliamentary committee which pushed the bill through, dismissed the widespread criticism, saying it was “apt, timely and important”.

“It will undoubtedly inspire a zeal for patriotism and cooperation. It will promote cultural heritage. Changing the national anthem will chart a path to greater unity”,  Tahir said.

And Kano resident Habu Shamsu agrees, telling the BBC: “I think it more encompassing and I like the way it flows”.

AljazirahNIGERIA aligns our thoughts with the those Nigerians opposed to the change as we see it as needless and coming at time we are confronted with myriad of national challenges.    

These challenges are not daunting but what is required is the will and zeal to confront them frontally from all tiers of government.

Indeed, we require a push in our national value re-orientation where citizens can be more responsive to national goals and aspirations. We do not see reverting to the old National Anthem as capable to engender any formidable national rebirth.

This cannot be said to be an achievement in a strict sense for which the National Assembly and government are taking credit.

As it is not a few Nigerians are still battling with unprecedented high cost of living.

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