Why we want old National anthem back – Lawmakers

FEDERAL Lawmakers in both the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives have given reasons for their support of the bill to revert to the old national anthem, “Nigeria We hail thee”.

This followed the passage of a bill to revert to the old national anthem “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” which passed the second reading at the Nigerian Senate, on Thursday, May 23.

The bill was also passed by the Federal House of Representatives on Thursday, having scaled the first, second and third reading.

Providing insight into the reason for the passage of  “A Bill for an Act to Provide for National Anthem, 2024,”  the Senate leader, Bamidele Opeyemi,  who sponsored the bill, said the old anthem aligns with the vision of President Bola Tinubu’s administration and will promote national unity.

The old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” whose lyrics were written by Lilian Jean Williams in 1959, and sung between 1960 and 1978, was replaced with the current one “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978.

While lending support to the motion, a senator representing Enugu North, Okechuukwu  Ezea, explained that the old anthem evoked more emotional connections with the Nigerian people.

He pointed out that the current anthem is vague and does not pass any message.

Another, Senator who spoke in favour of the bill, Tahir Monguno, representing Borno North, added that the current anthem is a product of a military junta and does not reflect the aspirations of Nigerians.

On his part, Jimoh Ibrahim said “If Nigeria we get the National  anthem right, we will get Nigeria right.”

Although, the approach with the passage of the bill was faulted by some senators, including Adams Oshiomhole and Mohammed Goje, of the ruling party All Progressive Congress, the bill scaled through second reading.

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Reps passed bill, seeking to bring back National anthem 

Despite opposition by some lawmakers in the federal House of Representatives, the bill, sponsored by the Majority Leader of the House, Julius Ihonvbere, scaled through the first, second and third reading within minutes.

Speaking on the importance of going back to the anthem the House Leader, Ihonvbere, emphasised the need for Nigerians to see the anthem as a national symbol and sign of authority, one which does not deny the realities.

However, while opposing the bill, the Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda, noted that the old anthem has a colonial tag which was the reason for the new anthem.

Chinda further questioned the importance of the anthem change at a time of more important challenges in the country.

However, the bill was given an expedited hearing and subsequently passed by the lawmakers.

The old anthem, composed to music by Frances Berda, read: 

Nigeria we hail thee

Our own dear native land

Though tribe and tongue may differ

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In brotherhood we stand

Nigerians all and proud to serve

Our sovereign motherland

Our flag shall be a symbol

That truth and justice reign

In peace or battle honour

And this we count as gain

To pass unto our children

A banner without stain

O God of all creation

Grant this our one request

Help us to build a nation

Where no man is oppressed

And so with peace and plenty

Nigeria may be blessed.

While the current goes as:

The current national anthem read thus:

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.

Oh God of all creation,

Direct our noble cause

Guide our leaders right

Help our youth the truth to know



    In love and honesty to grow

    And living just and true

    Great lofty heights attain

    To build a nation where peace
    And justice shall reign.


    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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