Former Minister of Education, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has publicly vowed not to join Nigerians in singing the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” which was reinstated by President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday.

Instead, she will continue to sing “Arise O Compatriots,” the anthem recently replaced by the National Assembly and approved by the President.

Ezekwesili expressed her defiance on social media, stating that she cannot be compelled to accept an “obnoxious law” that is rejected by the Nigerian people. She made her position clear in a post on her X handle on Wednesday, reacting to the reinstatement of the old anthem.

The National Assembly passed a bill, which received Tinubu’s assent, to bring back “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” written by British expatriate Lillian Jean Williams and composed by Frances Berda. This anthem was discarded in 1978 in favor of “Arise O Compatriots,” composed by Ben Odiase.

Ezekwesili reiterated her commitment to the current anthem, posting the lyrics of “Arise O Compatriots” on social media. She stated:

“Let it be known to all and sundry that I, Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, will, whenever asked to sing the Nigerian National Anthem, sing:

1. Arise, O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey

To serve our fatherland

With love and strength and faith

The labor of our heroes past

Shall never be in vain

To serve with heart and might

One nation bound in freedom, peace, and unity.

2. Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause

Guide our leaders right

Help our youth the truth to know

In love and honesty to grow

And living just and true

Great lofty heights attain

To build a nation where peace and justice reign.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives quickly passed the National Anthem Bill 2024, which seeks to reinstate the old anthem. Leading the debate in the lower chamber, Julius Ihonvbere argued that the change was necessary to foster patriotism and nationalism. The bill was passed in the Senate after a report by Tahir Monguno, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, was reviewed.

However, the move has been met with skepticism and criticism from many Nigerians on social media, who question the relevance of this change in addressing the country’s pressing economic challenges.



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