Old Anthem Vs New Anthem: Same Ol’ Same Ol’

Needed: Sustainable Local Democracy

The House of Representatives is speedily passing a bill that seeks to change our national Anthem from the current one, to an old one that was composed by our colonial masters. Within a few minutes the Bill passed through its 1st, 2nd and third readings. The Senate treated it just as speedily, passing through its 1st and 2nd readings, and eventually sending it to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to review and report back in two weeks. Like most Nigerians, Hon. Ahmed Satomi of Borno State does not agree with this bill and made some very sound arguments in the House of Representatives two days ago. “Countries that rely on prayers will always depend on countries that do think” according to Hon. Satomi. Let us think of something that will bring stability, progress, and prosperity to the economy of this nation, and improve the life of the common man in Nigeria, he argues. 

For arguments sake let us indulge the proponents of this bill and compare the two anthems, and see for ourselves, which is better? That is of course setting aside the sentiment that this bill does not seek to improve the life of a single Nigerian. The first Anthem was composed by our colonial masters. It was written by Lillian Jean William and the musical was composed by Frances Berda. The lyrics tend to highlight our differences instead of emphasising on our unity. The 2nd Anthem was composed by Nigerians and the musical too was composed by a Nigerian, Benedict Odiase, who was the Director of music in the Nigeria Police Band. It is more inspirational than the former one, filled with lyrics as a clarion call to patriotism, peace and unity. It is easily recognisable world wide, thanks to the sterling efforts of our sports men and women who have flown our flag high, in international competitions. The first Anthem can be likened to calling someone to name your child for you, while the second of course can be likened to naming your own child yourself. Which would you be more proud of?

The present national Anthem has been etched into our existence as a nation, just as our national flag. Would we wake up one day and say we want to change our flag? Some things are quite historical and tampering with them just doesn’t augur well. The idea of getting everyone to walk back almost 50 years and learn an Anthem that was long abandoned is quite absurd to put it lightly. Infact, there is a 2nd stanza of the new/ present Anthem that is just as inspirational as the present Anthem. The bill would have made a better argument of proposing to move onto the 2nd stanza as our new Anthem, than reverting to a colonial era Anthem that was handed down to us, which choruses our differences every time we sing it. The bill would have been more inspirational and exuded patriotism if it sought to have the National Anthem being sang in certain events, as opposed to playing it as a musical over an audio device. 

Come on! Honourable members of the House, and distinguished Senators. This bill is frivolous and should in no way be part of your debates in the National Assembly. There are a million and one things you could channel your energies to, that would improve the lives of ordinary Nigerians. There’s the new minimum wage matter that is still hanging and moving at millipede speed. It deserves your intervention and fast tracking. There’s the issue of insecurity that has refused to go to bed. You could channel your conversations and efforts towards lending more hands to our security architecture, and helping them towards consolidating on their efforts in fighting this menace. There’s the issue of the humanitarian affairs ministry still without a minister, with billions budgeted for palliatives, that could be spread across the less privileged in the country, to cushion their hardship. There are millions of unemployed graduates roaming our streets. How about opening up the National Civil Defense Corps to accommodate more youths that can help in fighting insecurity? How about the completion of so many highways across the country that have been abandoned or are progressing at snail speed? How about procuring fire fighting vehicles across all the States of the country, as buildings and markets keep falling to avoidable or quenchable fires? How about rising up to the challenge of having INEC to conduct local government elections as against SIEC, State Independent Electoral Commissions? If the old Anthem would bring food to the table of ordinary Nigerians, let’s have it. If it would reduce inflation, bring it on. If it would create a million job opportunities, so be it. If it wouldn’t, then it’s best we keep it in our yesteryears. The idea of having us sing that ‘our tribes and tongues may differ’ is so old school and should be left there.


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