New national anthem will birth new orientation – Clergyman, defends Tinubu

New national anthem will birth new orientation – Clergyman, defends Tinubu




Nigeria last week reverted to its old national anthem which was jettisoned in 1978 by the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo.


The reversal became effective after the bill was signed into law by President Bola Tinubu.


Nigeria started in 1960 with a national anthem whose lyrics begins with – “Nigeria we hail thee …,” and composed by a Briton, Lillian Jean Williams, but in 1978 Gen. Obasanjo as Head of State introduced another national anthem, “Arise o compatriots, Nigeria call obey …” which was in use until now.


Many Nigerians have dismissed the move as misplacement of priority, seeing no need for it, in view of the avalanche of economic problems assailing the people.


However, a clergyman, Rev’d Dr. Edward Kehinde Alabi, the under-shepherd of Molete Baptist Church Ibadan, has expressed a contrary opinion while recently speaking with in Ibadan.


He asserted that the re-introduction of the first national anthem is the elixir the country needed for national rebirth.


Explaining his position, the cleric noted that the recently jettisoned anthem is militarized, and that it imbued Nigerians with a siege mentality as well as smothered their patriotism.


“When l heard the old national anthem being re-introduced, l said Nigeria was on the verge of getting better because that was the only religion we knew growing up in Nigeria; no Islam, no Christianity. So, when we are talking of re-orientation, it will begin with the re-introduced national anthem,” Rev’d Alabi posited.


Alabi, who is also a lawyer, recalled the enthusiasm with which they sang the re-introduced national anthem as school children in those days, saying it was a spirit lifter.


“You need to see us in those days shaking our heads when we sang the national anthem. And our mothers were happy, our fathers were happy. But Obasanjo came and he changed it and the fire of patriotism began to fizzle out.”


The cleric delved into first stanza of the 1978 anthem querying the lyrics’ appropriateness to the psyche of civilians.


“It is militarized if you look at the wordings. Look at every word used in that anthem, it is not civil, you don’t find much elements of civility until you get to the second stanza.


“But the National Assembly has retained the second stanza as a national prayer – “O God of creation, direct our noble cause …


“The second stanza is civil, more musical, carries civil message and prayer directed to God on behalf of the nation.


“Why are we ‘compatriots?’ It’s an establishment like the military that uses such words. It is more fitting for a company, platoon, cantonment etc. We are civilians with no inhibitions other than abidance with the laws of the country, the word compatriot isn’t that appropriate. Then, ‘Nigeria … obey,’ do civilians obey (without questioning)? That is military mentality! All those things matter, it changed our mindset, it is like an indoctrination.


“If you look at the previous one, “Nigeria we hail thee …” Somebody was saying in the news that Nigeria is not a native land, for Christ sake, this is the place of the graves of our fathers, it is our native land, this is my own country, my place, my village.


“Also, fatherland found its way into the 1978 anthem whereas we had motherland in the previous one being re-introduced. That’s more emotional, fatherland is more associated with the military.”


“EDK,” as he is fondly called in some circle, stressed the “Arise o compatriots” anthem also partly jeopardized religion in the country, averring, “In those days, everybody realized there was nothing like religion. During Ileya we were happy, during Christmas we were happy, during Ramadan festival we were happy, during Easter we were happy, everybody flew together, we flocked together, irrespective of our background.


“My maternal grandmother was a Muslim, so also my uncles, and l stayed in the village with my twin brother, and there was no discrimination, we were united, we were recognized, oneness reigned. But now they have militarized the polity, the politicians do their own too, they had encroached on our religion, on our humanity. We need a new orientation, l am sure President Bola Tinubu will perform better,” he maintained.

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