Returning to the old national anthem was a big mistake

File Photo: Nigerian flag Derek Brumby/Getty Images

If I look sad in the attached photo it’s for a reason. My heart is very heavy for Nigeria right now because, in my opinion, we have just taken a giant step backwards in our national journey.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I support my country’s current economic policies. Removing fuel subsidy and floating the Naira are necessary policies that any lover of Nigeria should adhere to, regardless of his party affiliation.

One of the most unnecessary acts of government in Nigeria in recent times is the law bringing back the old National Anthem. First of all, there was nothing wrong with the existing anthem.

Second, with all the multifaceted issues we face, we seem to lack priorities when we focus on an issue as settled as a hymn.

To me it seems like a step backwards to discard the national anthem ‘Rise, O Countrymen’ written by a collective of young Nigerians, including John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, BA Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and PO Aderibigbe in 1978, for ‘Nigeria , We Hail Thee’, written by an Englishwoman, Lillian Jean Williams.
Doesn’t it sound crazy for a foreigner to write our National Anthem? Are we so superficial and uninspired that we cannot create our own indigenous anthem? You can imagine the land of music icons, such as Fela Kuti, Osita Osadebe, Dan Maraya Jos, and contemporary stars, such as Sade Adu, Burna Boy, Davido and Wizkid, importing music of national importance from Britain. As my Yoruba brothers will say: ‘Oh, bad now!’

The name Nigeria was already given to us by another English lady, Flora Shaw. And she named us in 1897 the same way you name a dog. She did it in an ironic tone, for an article she wrote for The Times of London.

We should even have changed that name to something indigenous, like Republic of Wazobia, like Ghana did in 1957 when it changed from Gold Coast to Ghana at independence in 1957.

We should also have gone back to the original name of Lagos, Eko. Lagos is an imposed Portuguese name. The annoying thing is that the Portuguese who changed the name from Eko to Lagos were nothing more than opportunistic slave traders who did not establish any viable administrative structure.
Instead of undertaking these name changes, we are rather doubling down on another colonial relic by discarding the anthem written by our own citizens for one written by a foreigner.

I challenge anyone reading this to name another country whose National Anthem was written by a foreigner. Not even a Banana Republic would do that!

In my humble opinion, President Tinubu should not have given his assent to that bill. Instead, he should have written a strong letter to convey to the National Assembly the implications for our sovereignty and national psyche of returning to an anthem written by a foreigner, which would make us a free nation that voluntarily chose to return to the yoke of imperialism.

Is it too late for the president to do what he should have done? No. He is our Head of State and he has the duty to promote indigenous ideas over imperialist ones.