Nigeria: Old-New National Anthem is an expensive sideshow

Dimeji Macaulay

A few days to one year in office, President Tinubu spokespersons announced that there will be no celebration of their one year in office.  Practically with the present situation of things in Nigeria, there is nothing to celebrate for the one year Tinubu has spent.  The economy is in reverse direction. The situation Tinubu meets Nigeria has been worse.  All parts of Nigeria are battling with one security challenge or the other. For instance, in the South East, it is the case of on known gunmen, Biafra Separatist group, and kidnapping In the whole part of north and FCT, it is banditry, terrorism and ethno religious crisis in many communities in Jos and Kaduna, corruption allegation against Former governor Bello Yahaya and also Nasir El  Rufai, the list of the crisis is endless.

But to everyone, Chagrin, President Tinubu came with a magic, a very undemocratic magic that may not stand a taste of time.  Stakeholders have been asking the question, what is needed for this? The magic was the new announcement of return to the old national anthem.  On 29th of May, 2024 Tinubureplaced the Nigeria anthem “Nigeria, We Hail Thee”, Nigeria’s first national anthem with Arise, O Compatriots was the 2nd national anthem of Nigeria used from 1 October 1978.  Not only that the problems of Nigerians will not and cannot be solve with new national anthem but Nigerians are hoping for announcement of new minimum wage, what is government plan to end mass hunger and insecurity in the country, what we are in need of is not new minimum wage.

Returning to the old anthem isn’t only very ridiculous but also a neo-colonial anthem written by Lillian Jean Williams and set to musical score by Frances Berda are all is a colonial mentality that can introduce such anthem to Nigeria’s after over four decades it was relinquish. This is an anthem    where Nigerians were referred to   as “native and tribe” in the old national anthem “Native and tribe” are pejorative words with which the colonialists who gave Nigeria a national anthem at independence in 1960 identified us.  In 1978, the then Nigerian military government opted for a new national anthem: “Arise O Compatriots,” which was selected from the lyrics of five Nigerians but was fused into one The anthem was submitted by P. O. Aderogba, BabatundeOgunnaike, John Ikechukwu, EmeEtimAkpan, and SotuOmoigui. The Director of Music, Nigeria Police Band, Benedict Odiase selected the lyrics, fused them, and composed the music.  Although the anthem has two verses, usually only the first is sung. On some occasions, the second verse is recited as “The National Prayer”, this is to avoid the crisis from Christian and Muslim prayers to commence meeting or any public event.

There are so many debates about the anthem that the old national anthem says our fatherland, new national anthem says our motherland. The questions now are: Is Nigeria a fatherland or motherland?  That’s just by the side.

But in reality, it is indeed an expensive sideshow. This huge and expensive joke is what Tinubu and capitalist ruling elite in Nigeria gathered themselves at the   National Assembly on May 29, the President of Nigeria, Senate President GodswillAkpabio, and other members of National Assembly. The news broke out that President Bola Tinubu had signed a bill amending the National Anthem Act into law and that a new National Anthem Act, 2024 had come into effect, this means that the 1978 national anthem: “Arise o Compatriots” and telling Nigerians to return to the old national anthem: “Nigeria We hail Thee”.

 It was fun that the lawmakers recited the old national anthem. Even though it was glaring that many of them didn’t know the old-new national anthem.  But funny enough, the minsters who’s the nation is waiting for their score card have enough reasons to hide since there is another subject to discuss. The new-old national anthem is the new subject matter.  But since then, nobody has talked about minister’s scorecard anymore. The mismanagement of Kogi state funds by Yahaya Bello has also gone into the air.

Nigerians are now left so choose which of the national anthem will they sing at public events but it sure that Nigerians do not support the new anthem because first it was composed by a foreigner with erroneous sentence, the second thing is that aside that many prominent Nigerians have said they are not going to sing the new national anthem, those who are member of ruling party have no option but to help their party to propagate this new anthem.   It has been observed that the whole process of the passing the new anthem to law was illegal according, so this has created a legal lacuna   according to the he Association of Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners, the new anthem is illegal and now they have gone to court to seek legal redress on the matter, because there was no due process in the signing of the new anthem to law, they have argued the following:

The National Assembly did not conduct a public hearing as required under Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution. It is true that the public was not aware of any public hearing on the new national anthem.No letter of transmission of the said Bill was sent to the President as required by law.However, the National Assembly insists that there was a public hearing.

The Association of Legislative Drafters also argues that the expenditures associated with the National Anthem Act 2024 are not captured in the 2024 Budget; That the new anthem would impose financial burden on Nigerians including costs such as man-hours that would be spent updating official documents.

So, in reality, Nigerians for the past two weeks have been arguing that there will be two anthems like we have two currency notes from 200 to 1000. But one thing is certain the dubious character in which the government has succeeded in distracting Nigerians with new anthem. It is an expensive side show that has succeeded.  What Nigerian needs at this time is to enjoy free housing, healthcare, education, affordable public transport, security of life and property, drinkable water, motorable roads, and a constant supply of electricity.  Anything related to a new national anthem is an expensive sideshow.

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