Misplaced priority: Nigerians react to approval of old national anthem

NIGERIANS have reacted to the approval by President Bola Tinubu to revert to the old national anthem, with many describing it as a misplaced priority.

Tinubu signed a bill seeking to revert to the old national anthem into law on Wednesday, May 29.

The new law triggered reactions from citizens, who have criticised the government for paying attention to unnecessary issues in light of more pressing national challenges.

Notable Nigerians including former Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili took to social media to express displeasure over the development.

“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!

“Again, no one is coming to save us, citizens of Nigeria. We’re all we have. We all must someday decide to collectively save ourselves and this country from these overpaid, unethical, incompetent and incapable ‘lawbreakers’ in the @nassnigeria and their similarly characterised collaborators in the executive and judicial branches of government across this land,” she posted via X.

Former spokesperson to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, who in recent times has been an ardent defender of the current administration, also took to his Facebook page to criticise the new law, which he described as a backward step.

“One of the most unnecessary acts of governance in Nigeria in recent times is the law returning the old national anthem. First of all, there was nothing wrong with the existing anthem. Secondly, with all of the multifaceted issues we face, it seems like we have a lack of priorities when we major on such a settled issue as an anthem.

“To me, it looks like a step backwards to discard the ‘Arise, O Compatriots’ national anthem written by a collective of young Nigerians, including John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and P. O. Aderibigbe in 1978, for ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee’, written by an English woman, Lillian Jean Williams,” he noted.

He also condemned returning to a national anthem composed by a foreigner and discarding the indigenous version.

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“In my humble opinion, President Tinubu ought not to have assented to that bill. Instead, he should have written a strongly worded letter to communicate to the National Assembly the implications on our sovereignty and national psyche to revert to an anthem written by a foreigner, which would make us a free nation that willingly chose to return to the yoke of imperialism.

“Is it too late for the President to do what he ought to have done? No. He is our Head of State and has a duty to promote indigenous ideas over imperialistic ones,” Omokri noted.




     

     

    Similarly, the former Senator representing Kaduna-Central, Shehu Sani, likened the new law to treating a bacterial infection with fragrance rather than medication.

    “Nigeria is facing serious economic and security challenges but it’s prioritising changing its national anthem. We have bacterial infection, we opted for prada fragrance instead of penicillin,” Sani posted.

    Earlier, lawmakers at the Nigerian Senate argued that the old anthem evoked more emotional connections with the Nigerians than the newly replaced one.

    The old anthem was composed by Lillian Jean Williams and Frances Berda and used from 1960 to 1978. It was however replaced with “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978 by the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime.

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    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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