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Nigeria Revert To Old National Anthem, As President Tinubu Signs Bill To Law

President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday signed the National Anthem Bill 2024 into law.

The bill seeks to reinstate the old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.”

A final assent to the passage of the bill will bring about a shift from the now-recognised, “Arise O Compatriots.”

The bill rapidly cleared by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

President Ahmed Bola Tinubu appends his signature to a bill

Nigeria’s national identity was poised for a historic shift as the Senate earlier passed a bill to change the national anthem from “Arise O Compatriots” to the country’s original anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”1. This move is not just a change of lyrics but a reconnection with the nation’s heritage, reflecting a desire to restore a sense of patriotism and unity that many feel was better encapsulated in the old anthem.

The current anthem, adopted in 1978, was the product of a national contest and has served the country for over four decades. However, the proposed return to the original anthem, which was in use when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, has sparked a debate about national identity and the symbols that best represent the aspirations of its people.

Proponents of the change argue that the original anthem, with its lyrics penned by Lillian Jean Williams and music composed by Frances Berda, resonates more with the Nigerian spirit. It is seen as a symbol of the country’s formative years and is believed to evoke stronger emotional connections among Nigerians. The old anthem is remembered for its role in shaping Nigeria’s national identity and unity during the 1960s and late 1970s.

On the other hand, some question the timing and necessity of such a change, considering the pressing socio-economic challenges facing the nation. Critics argue that the focus should be on more substantive reforms rather than symbolic gestures.

The Attorney General of the Federation earlier called for wider consultations before the bill is passed into law, suggesting that such a significant change should reflect the collective will of the Nigerian people. This includes consultations through zonal public hearings, resolutions of the Federal Executive Council, and the National and State Assemblies.

As the bill awaited the President’s assent, the nation watched with bated breath. With the approval, this change will mark a new chapter in Nigeria’s history, one that looks back to its roots to forge a stronger, more united future. The debate surrounding the anthem change underscores the ongoing conversation about national identity and the symbols that best represent a country’s past, present, and future aspirations.

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