Outrage Erupts as Nigeria Reverts to Old National Anthem

Nigerians React to Controversial Change in National Anthem by President Tinubu in a move that has stirred significant controversy.

Nigerians React to Controversial Change in National Anthem by President Tinubu

In a move that has stirred significant controversy, President Bola Tinubu signed a bill on Wednesday to revert Nigeria‘s national anthem to the one used prior to 1978. The decision has been met with outrage by many Nigerians, who feel the change was made without adequate public consultation and at a time when the country faces more pressing issues.

The newly re-adopted anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” was written by Lillian Jean Williams in 1959 and composed by Frances Berda. It was the national anthem from 1960 until it was replaced by “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978 during a military regime. President Tinubu, marking his first anniversary in office, described the anthem as a symbol of Nigeria‘s diversity. However, critics argue that the timing and process of the change are highly questionable.

Public Outcry and Criticism

The backlash was swift and vocal. Many Nigerians took to social media to express their discontent, highlighting the country’s more urgent problems such as insecurity, rising inflation, and a foreign exchange crisis.

On X (formerly Twitter), user @Gospel_rxx voiced frustration: “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!! Let’s see how they implement it…”

Another user, Fola Folayan, criticized the parliament for hastily passing the bill: “Changing the Nigerian national anthem written by a Nigerian, 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.”

Former Education Minister Oby Ezekwesili made her stance clear by declaring she would continue to sing “Arise, O Compatriots” instead of the re-adopted anthem. She posted the lyrics of the more recent anthem, signaling her refusal to accept the change.

Divergent Views

While the move has sparked significant opposition, there are some who support the decision. Former presidential aide Bashir Ahmad suggested that if the national anthem can be changed, perhaps it’s time to consider altering other national symbols, like the name and flag of Nigeria. This has ignited further debate on the direction of national identity.

Tahir Mongunu, chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for the bill, defended the decision as “apt, timely and important.” He believes the re-adopted anthem will foster patriotism and unity by promoting Nigeria’s cultural heritage.

Habu Shamsu, a resident of Kano, echoed this sentiment in an interview with the BBC, stating that he found the old-new anthem more encompassing and appreciated its flow.

Comparing the two Anthems

The previous national anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” which has been in use from 1978 until now, begins with a call to action and service:

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

In contrast, the re-adopted anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” starts with a celebration of national unity despite diversity:

“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.”

Conclusion

The reversion to Nigeria’s old national anthem has undeniably struck a chord with the populace. It ignites a broader discussion about national priorities and identity. As the country navigates its current challenges, the debate over the anthem serves as a reflection of deeper societal issues and the diverse perspectives within Nigeria. Whether the re-adopted anthem will achieve the intended goals of unity and patriotism remains to be seen. But it is clear that for many Nigerians, the change is both untimely and controversial.

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