#Aribigbola's Lines

Does  reverting to discarded national anthem matter

By Afolabi Aribigbola


Towards the build up to the recent celebration of the first year of the present administration in Nigeria, the National Assembly in an unprecedented manner passed a bill within a week for a ‘new’ anthem to return to the version of anthem in used in the country from independence on October 1, 1960 until 1978, when a new home-grown anthem was generated.

Consequently, Nigerians were treated to the theatre of discarding the then national anthem and replaced it with the national anthem handed over to the country at independence by the departing colonial masters. In a fanfare that involved President Bola Ahmed Tinubu visiting the joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate after signing the bill in to law where the new anthem was sang for the first time after enactment of the act making it the official national anthem of the country henceforth. Indeed, since the enactment of the law and eventual substitution of the discarded anthem for the home grown national anthem, I have been ruminating and interrogating on why the quick passage of the law in the midst of more pressing issues and problems requiring urgent attention and actions to ameliorate the suffering of the masses of the country.

Why do the country need to revert from a national anthem articulated and composed by Nigerians to one crafted for the country by foreigners? Of course all these have prompted me to ask the question that does changing the national anthem at this critical time when the country has enormous challenges that should be the focus of attention of the leadership of National Assembly and the federal government of Nigeria. Is the action a product of lack of appreciation of the gargantuan problems facing the country to enable the leadership abandon them only to focus on less important issue of changing the country’s national anthem that does not directly impact the living condition of the people? Less important because anthems are meant to motivate and charge people to be committed and dedicated to the cause of their society or country.

Since the new anthem was formally used during the President’s visit to the National Assembly on May 29, the day of their first-year anniversary, it has become the national anthem of the county that must be sang in all public occasions in the country.  As expected, the enacted and introduction of the new national item have instigated criticisms from many Nigerians to the extent that some vowed not to sing nor stand when the new anthem is rendered. Some strand of criticisms revolve around the simple fact that Nigeria has more important issues to contend with than changing to a colonial anthem prepared by non-Nigerians that ordinarily should not be the country’s priority and with the kind of passion and energy dissipated to enact the law in a record time. They, therefore, contended reverting to the colonial anthem is unnecessary but packaged to divert the attention of Nigerians from the hydra-headed and seemingly intractable problems facing the country and her citizens which the government seems unable or unwilling to tackle headlong to find the needed solution. Rather, they have dissipated energy on enacting a law that does not add value to the precarious living conditions of Nigerians. They reasoned, that, is it because Nigeria don’t have competent Nigerians to prepare a very good national anthem, if we must change the old anthem that the country had to revert to the old one discarded for a home-grown national anthem that many did not see anything wrong with. 

The National Assembly members in justifying the passage of the law for the introduction of the colonial anthem opined that the new national anthem was apt as it represented the country’s people, culture, values and aspiration and that the bill is in tandem with the spirit of unity and that it will inspire zeal for patriotism and cooperation. They went further that it will promote cultural heritage of the nation. On the argument of the National Assembly members that the new anthem will promote national unity, it is not clear to me how it will achieve this dauting task of uniting the country. If the anthem failed to unite the country before 1966, when the country was less complex, diversified and very lower population than now but the country had to engage in a three and a half years gruesome civil war that ended in January 1970, I don’t see how it will accomplish that on its own now. That the country is more divided with more problems to contend with. Also, I do not see how it will end corruption, oppression and widespread inequality that is further dividing the country.

 I don’t see how the new anthem will bring unity and progress to the country as enunciated by members of the National Assembly. It is a case of leaving substance to chase shadow with the ultimate intention of diverting the attention of Nigerians from assessing the performance of government after one year in office.  Yes, the wordings of the new national anthem are great but on its own will not develop the country. It thus appears that in want of any concrete achievements to present to Nigerians after being in office for one year the government decided in agreement with the National Assembly to divert the attention of Nigerians from germane issues of development in the country to unimportant, irrelevant issues of National anthem jettisoning and reintroduction of discarded anthem. Of course, it could be used to mobilise Nigerians to change their perspective towards building a prosperous society most Nigerians crave for if properly harnessed. Beyond using it to mobilise and motivate Nigerians towards national building, I have not been able to discern how merely changing a national anthem without conscious programme and sincere mobilization for change of attitude and disposition to productive activities will impact on the pitiable living condition of majority of Nigerians.

I like to state unequivocally that changing the national anthem of the country this period does not matter the least. It has only sparked  the argument that the country’s leadership is in want of what to do to celebrate their first year anniversary at the helm of affairs of the country.

 The reality in the country, If the truth must be told to power is that changing the national anthem does not matter. What matters is to create and recreate a sustainable Nigeria where people can live in peace and harmony, reasonably enjoy the good things that make life meaningful. This requires efforts and actions beyond mere changing the national anthem. Indeed, the challenges facing the country are clear. What is missing is the courage, ability and discipline to resolve the crises. Therefore, reverting to the colonial anthem does not matter , what matters is to proactively address the problem facing the country and her citizens and put a stop to the sufferings and pains inflicted on the poverty stricken Nigerians.  

Does  reverting to discarded national anthem matter

Does  reverting to discarded national anthem matter

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