Supersonic speed in NASS on re – introduction of old national anthem 

Both Chambers of the National Assembly on Thursday last week, gave more than expeditious considerations of an Executive Bill, seeking for replacement of current National Anthem with the old one. TAIYE ODEWALE reports.

National  Anthem 

Nigeria like all Independent Countries of the world, at  attainment of Independence on  Saturday, October 1, 1960, adopted a National Anthem which was sang at the event and subsequent national or official events at Federal, Regional (now states) and Local government levels till 1978 when the Anthem was changed to a new one .

The old Anthem 

Historically, the old National Anthem with the famous phrase of ” Nigeria, We Hail Thee …”, was written by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who lived in Nigeria at the time, while frances Berda,  composed the music for it.

The anthem and the pledge sung and recited for 18 years before replacement by new ones in 1978 go thus: 

“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 “. 

The Current National Anthem 

As a way of doing away with vestiges of Colonialism, Nigerians after years of singing the old National Anthem and reciting the pledge, sought for new ones with indigenous inputs , which made the Military Government headed by Lt – General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd) precisely in1978, to call for writing competition for a new national anthem and pledge.

From the national contest, top five entries provided the lyrics for the anthem. The five entries were from P. O. Aderibigbe, John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, Dr. Sota Omoigui, and B.A. Ogunnaike. 

The entries were originally submitted as poems by the five writers but later turned to song which the Nigeria Police Band under the Musical Directorship of Benedict Odiase fine tuned into melodious one sang and recited thus : 

“Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey

To serve our fatherland

With love and strength and faith

The labor of our heroes past

Shall never be in vain

To serve with heart and might

One nation bound in freedom, peace, and unity.

I pledge to Nigeria, my country

To be faithful, loyal, and honest

To serve Nigeria with all my strength

To defend her unity

And uphold her honor and glory

So help me God.

 O God Of Creation.

Direct Our Noble Cause.

Guide Our Leaders Right.

Help Our Youth “The Truth” To Know.

In Love And Honesty To Grow.

And Live In Just And Truth.

Great Lofty Heights Attain.

To Build A Nation Where Peace And Justice Shall Reign “. 

Sudden urge for replacement and supersonic speed on it in NASS 

Without any known agitation from Nigerians, need for replacement of  the current National Anthem with the old one, suddenly surfaced on the floor of both Chambers of the National Assembly on Thursday last week as executive bills upon which lead debates, were made by their leaders.

Specifically in the Senate, after given the bill, first reading, its Leader, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central ), made a lead debate on it for second reading.

 The Senate Leader in the lead debate on the bill, said: ” This Bill seeks to make provision for Nigeria to revert to its old National Anthem that would promote better symbol for unity, peace and prosperity – compared to the current one.

“The old Anthem if reintroduced, will inspire in us the zeal to build a fully integrated and indivisible nation, whereby all citizens will live in unity and harmony.

“The Anthem, upon rendition, inspired and stimulated deep sense of patriotism in Nigerians. You will also agree with me that those who were around in the 60s and the late 1970s, would attest to the fact that the Anthem played quite a significant and crucial role in shaping Nigeria’s national identity and unity, as well as engendered high sense of value and personal belonging amongst the citizenry. 

“It was symbolic of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and nationhood. In retrospect, the Anthem served as regular and constant reminder of our journey, as a nation and provoked feelings of nostalgia and fond memories of the country’s early years. 

“Mr President, my dear colleagues, at this momentous time in our national history, it is imperative that we utilise any platform that seeks to unite the country and promote patriotism amongst Nigerians. 

“Accordingly, the old National Anthem, as a symbol of national pride, has provided insights for patriotic reflections on our aspirations, values and hope for a united and prosperous Nigeria. 

“Finally, I implore you all, my Distinguished Colleagues, to support the expeditious passage of this Bill, as it is in line with the RENEWED Reorientation of our collective values and national conscientisation efforts of the current administration.

“The rendition and musical accuracy of the Anthem, is better in content and context than the current one” 

Expectedly, after the lead debate by Senator Bamidele and enormous support given it by other Senators , the Senate passed it for second reading and mandated its committees on Judiciary , Human Rights and Legal matters, Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, to make further legislative inputs on it and report back very soon.

The very soon given to the committees to submit report on the re – introduction of old National Anthem bill from all indications, will be Tuesday this week, for required final passage since the House of Representatives, did so last week on the very day the executive bill was introduced, debated and given second and third readings.

However, the supersonic speed both chambers are deploying to passage of the bill, is being criticised by Nigerians, some of whom are even kicking against replacing the current National Anthem with the old one.