National Anthem Co-Author: To Develop Nation, Leaders Must Change Their Ways, Not Anthem

National Anthem Co-Author: To Develop Nation, Leaders Must Change Their Ways, Not Anthem

To ease the hardship and multidimensional poverty being experienced by many Nigerians, political leaders have been urged to change their selfish approach to governance and matters of state.

This, it was said, is the only way to give a new lease of life to millions of citizens, especially the youth, who are increasingly becoming hopeless.

Co-author of the Nigerian National Anthem, Sota Omoigui, made the call in a statement issued on Monday to condemn the recent reverting of the national anthem to the old colonial anthem.

The National Assembly recently approved the National Anthem Bill 2024, thereby reinstating the old anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.”

President Bola Tinubu’s assent to the bill on 29 May brought about a shift from Mr Omoigui’s co-authored “Arise O Compatriots.”

But Mr Omoigui described the change as “regressive and a betrayal of our independence.”

He recalled that when he wrote the words for the anthem in 1978, it was his dream for the country to move forward and take its place among the great nations of the world.

He, however, lamented that all the potential had been hijacked and degraded by a political leadership that constitutes a criminal enterprise, making Nigerians wonder if the country was ready for independence at the time it got it.

“It is a symbol of a political leadership that is clueless and has so lost its way that it goes crawling on its hands and knees back to kiss the ring of its colonial master to adopt its anthem – music and lyrics,” he said.

Mr Omoigui noted that there have been numerous reasons adduced for the speedy reversion of the former anthem.

He highlighted the reasons that struck him the most: that the colonial anthem embodied more relevant values than the Nigerian anthem and that it would be a source of building patriotism. He described the reasons as indicative of sheer hypocrisy.

“First, the Nigerian anthem: The first two lines of Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call to obey is a call to action. It calls on us to serve our fatherland with love and, strength, and faith. There is nothing more patriotic than that.

“But our leaders have not the foggiest idea of the meaning of patriotism. They are too greedy and simply incapable of living up to the creed of the Nigerian anthem – an anthem with lyrics written by Nigerians and music composed by a Nigerian.

“Our culture, music, movies, song and dance are exported and celebrated by different races all over the world. Radio stations and clubs in cities from Alaska to Argentina play Nigerian Afrobeat. Yet in the birthplace of that culture, the leaders reject their own anthem for a colonial anthem,” he lamented.

Mr Omoigui alleged that the nation’s leaders steal from the poor because the much they have is never enough. He contended that they have failed to serve the fatherland with love and, strength, and faith. And he expressed the opinion that they have failed to create one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

“They have failed to be guided by God and are unable to teach our youth in love and

honesty to grow, as they neither have love nor do they have honesty. They live corruptly and have failed to live just and true,” he added.

Analysing the colonial anthem, Mr Omoigui said it was the right anthem at the right time in the nation’s history but contended that the time was long gone.

“They want to now force Nigerians to sing Nigeria; we hail thee. They want us to hail the 53% unemployment rate of our youths and the 34% unemployment rate of our adults.

“They want us to hail the minimum monthly wage of N30,000.00, whose earners must work for three months to purchase a bag of rice that costs N100,000.00.

“They want us to hail no electricity, roads, pipe borne water, dilapidated and unsanitary schools with no roofs or windows and… dilapidated health care systems including some our university teaching hospitals, that are death traps, where there are limited medications, few supplies or equipment and in many cases not even running water,” he said.

Mr Omoigui listed other factors, suggestive of the government’s failure in several aspects of the economy and society and indicative of widespread despondency among citizens, as reasons the reinstatement of the colonial anthem is a misnomer that should not be embraced.

He stressed that Nigerians were experiencing neither peace nor plenty, adding that the vast majority have no electricity, roads, pipe-borne water, healthcare or social amenities.

Mr Omoigui declared that citizens were worse off today than at the time of independence; hence, changing the anthem and expecting a different result is insanity.

“The Nigeria of our youth that we knew of in our anthem of 1978 sadly no longer exists. It has been replaced by a rapacious system of governance that is unsustainable and, if unchecked, spells doom for the country,” he said.

Mr Omoigui noted that from events that have unfolded from independence to date, it was clear political leaders were unable and incapable of living up to the aspirational creed of either the Nigerian or the colonial anthem.

He admonished the leaders to change their ways rather than the anthem to move the nation forward.

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He called on Nigerians to rise and resist leaders who would put the neocolonial yoke around their necks.

“Fellow Nigerians, you were born free. Your ancestors fought the slave traders; your founding fathers resisted the colonial masters. And now it is your turn to resist those who would put the neo-colonial yoke around your neck. Arise and resist this modern-day slavery. Arise and resist singing this lie of a colonial anthem they want you to sing,” he said.