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President Tinubu Signs Bill to Readopt the First National Anthem into Law

The National Anthem Bill 2024 has been enacted into law by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The bill passed its first and second reading, in the House of Representatives and Senate respectively.

With this new law, the national anthem “Arise, O Compatriots” has now been replaced with the previous “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” which was adopted when Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960. The lyrics were written by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate who lived in Nigeria, while Frances Berda composed the music.

In a joint session of the National Assembly today, marking the Silver Jubilee Of Nigeria’s 4th Republic and the first anniversary of Bola Tinubu’s administration, the representatives and senators sang “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” after it was signed into law.

The president, who later joined the joint session, confirmed ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee’ as the “latest national anthem”. The now, previous, national anthem, was adopted in 1978 during Olusegun Obasanjo‘s military administration. It combines lyrics from a national contest set to music by the Nigerian police band. Five people created the Nigerian national anthem lyrics: P. O. Aderibigbe, John A. Ilechukwu, Sota Omoigui, Eme Tim Akpan and B.A. Ogunnaike.

During the debate for the bill, the lawmakers argued that the old anthem evoked more emotional connections with the Nigerian people. They also noted that the current anthem is a product of a military junta and does not reflect the aspirations of Nigerians.

The sponsor of the proposed law, Julius Ihonvbere, anchored his argument on the need for patriotism and nationalism, saying, “I believe that the old anthem encompasses. I have taken time to look at the other anthems (the old and the new) we have been involved in the struggle to make Nigeria a better place. I believe that the old Anthem, encompasses, contains, and exudes the kind of energy, resourcefulness and a sense of vision that I believe is good for Nigeria. Mr Speaker the old Anthem not only begins by telling us of the pride to serve our nation which is what is required right now when people are “Japa-ing” left, right and centre. But it goes on to assert the sovereignty of our motherland.”

This article was originally written on BellaNaija

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