Senate Passes Bill to Restore Nigeria’s Former National Anthem

By Ajibola Olaide, JKNMedia Reporter

A LANDMARK bill aimed at reinstating the nation’s former national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” has been approved by the Nigerian Senate.

The decision to revert to the old anthem, which was composed during Nigeria’s independence in 1960, marks a significant shift in the country’s cultural landscape.

The bill, which swiftly passed through both the first and second readings, now awaits final approval from President Bola Tinubu to become law.

This move follows the House of Representatives’ endorsement of the bill last Thursday, signaling widespread support for the anthem’s restoration.

Originally penned by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who resided in Nigeria during its early years of independence, and set to music by Frances Berda, the anthem served as a unifying force during a pivotal period in Nigeria’s history.

Its revival is viewed as a nod to the country’s heritage and a reaffirmation of its national identity.

Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele underscored the anthem’s historical significance, noting its role in fostering patriotism and unity among Nigerians as he emphasized its ability to evoke nostalgia and fond memories of the nation’s formative years, highlighting its enduring impact on the collective consciousness.

The bill seeks to replace the current national anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” which was adopted in 1978 during the military administration of Olusegun Obasanjo.

Advocates argue that the reinstatement of the old anthem is a symbolic gesture aimed at reconnecting with Nigeria’s roots and honoring its rich cultural heritage.

During a recent public hearing on the matter, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, stressed the importance of wider consultation in the amendment process.

He emphasized the need to ensure that any changes reflect the collective aspirations of all Nigerians, underscoring the significance of a transparent and inclusive decision-making process.

The proposed legislation also addresses the incorporation of the second stanza of the current national anthem as the national prayer, while leaving room for further deliberation on potential amendments.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, echoed sentiments in favor of the anthem’s restoration, citing its relevance to contemporary issues of oppression and national unity. He referenced previous discussions on the matter, including debates at the 2014 National Conference, which garnered widespread support for the change.

With the bill’s passage in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the final step toward reinstating the old anthem involves harmonizing the legislation between both chambers and securing presidential approval.

If successful, Nigeria will once again embrace “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” as its national anthem, symbolizing a return to its cultural roots and a renewed sense of national pride and unity.

The Old National Anthem Lyrics:
Nigeria, we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
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’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to 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.

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2 thoughts on “Senate Passes Bill to Restore Nigeria’s Former National Anthem

  1. My question is, is this what we need now? I feel that this is not an achievement nor a solution. This is a clear case of misplaced priorities, and insensitivity of Nigeria’s government towards real issues bedeviling Nigeria. Even reality is biting harder than what the economic indicators are giving us. Let Mr. President do right by Nigerians.

    1. Dear Ose, truly your question is very valid in terms of reality of our current situation. However, I strongly believe that the old national anthem calls their attention to Nigeria as our beloved country to whom all their services must be rendered.

      However, the Arise Oh Compatriots, focuses on the people. That’s why they have been so self-centered, and self-interests consume them they never consider Nigeria first. I have personally never really liked the new national anthem since it was introduced. And who are the so-called heroes cos I can’t think of any.

      I really prefer Nigeria, we hail Thee … Putting the focus solely on Nigeria. That’s my personal perspective please not having to do with any political thrust or politician. Thank you.

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