Nigeria Sparks Outrage with Alteration to National Anthem

Outrage in some quarters of Nigeria swelled Wednesday after the country’s national anthem was changed with little consultation. President Bola Tinubu signed the bill to revert to Nigeria’s old national anthem, which was dropped by a military government in 1978. The newly re-adopted anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” was written in 1959 by Lillian Jean Williams with music by Frances Berda. President Tinubu said the anthem represented Nigeria’s diversity during his first year in office.

Amid a biting cost-of-living crisis, the gesture has raised questions about the president’s priorities. Many believe that the country faces more significant problems like insecurity, rising inflation, and a foreign exchange crisis. On social media, @Gospel_rxx tweeted: “A new national anthem is a priority for Tinubu & Co at a time like this when our people can’t eat, insecurity is rife & life is hell? What a sordid joke!! Let us see how they implement it.”

Another user, Fola Folayan, criticized parliament for rushing the bill. “It’s a stupid decision to change the Nigerian national anthem written by a Nigerian to a song written by colonizers, and it’s shameful that nobody in the National Assembly stood against it.”

Former Education Minister Oby Ezekwesili posted that she would never sing the new-old anthem, stating she would continue to sing “Arise O Compatriots,” the anthem used for the past 46 years. Former presidential aide Bashir Ahmad noted ongoing debates about changing Nigeria’s name and flag.

Tahir Mongunu, chairman of the parliamentary committee that pushed the bill, dismissed the criticism, saying the change was “apt, timely and important” and would inspire patriotism and unity. Kano resident Habu Shamsu told the BBC he found the new anthem more encompassing and liked its flow.