Do you know that the year 2008 is symbolically relevant to the Nigerian national anthem? This is exactly 30 years that famous and inspiring anthem has been sung from the mouths of the wise and suckling. And have you ever critically analysed the lyrical contents? This is your opportunity to do so now.
Arise, O compatriots,
Nigeria's call obey.
To serve our Fatherland
With love and strength and faith.
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom,
Peace and unity.
The Nigeria national anthem, “Arise, O compatriots” was adopted in 1978, that is thirty years ago, in preference to “Nigeria We Hail Thee” which was formally used as the national anthem between 1960 to 1978. The uniqueness of this anthem especially to me is the fact that 1978 was famously known in Nigeria as the oil boom, which we can say was when one can proudly say I am a Nigeria.
Uniquely the lyrics of the current national anthem were taken from five best entrants of in a national contest. The lyrics as written by John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B.A. Ogunaike, Sotu Omoigui, and P.O Aderibighe were put together to form the national anthem, a mark of unity in diversity.
Thirty years later!
Is the clarion call on fellow compatriots to serve our fathers’ land obeyed? You be the judge. Having pondered over happening in the country from when I can remember, it leaves nothing to be desired. Daily we hear about nation building, but I ask myself is it possible to build a nation when the homes of the so-called nation builders are yet to be built? Is it possible to offer what you do not have? This is where the sports analysts talk about going back to the drawing board to right the wrong.
Service to our fathers’ land with love and strength and faith is dashed to the mud because love is relegated to the background; hence the rampant evils perpetrated in the country. “Where is love when people are killing everyday”, was sang by Bright Chimezie many year ago. Without love it is impossible to serve the nation because the leader cannot manufacture the strength and faith to do so.
People fought in time past to give Nigeria their freedom when independence was granted to the entity now called Nigeria in 1960. The road to freedom was embarked on by our past leaders because they believe in the unionism, right to live and exist for the country. Despite the amalgamation of the two entirely different protectorates with diverse cultures, yet the former leaders sought a way to exist independent of the colonial masters through their toil and labour to ensure Nigeria was liberated from its colonial masters. The likes of Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe worldly acknowledged as the Zik of Africa, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Johnson Thomas Umurakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, Yakubo Gowon to mention a few cannot be too quick to forget. Now I ask, did they labour in vain judging from the current development in the country in recent-past? Our national anthem clearly warns us not to allow such labour and love for our fathers’ land to be in vain. But what do we see today. Wherever these past heroes are today – living or dead, their spirit will continually grieve as they watch helplessly, those who mantle of leadership, stare them in the face to do their worst. Poor helpless heroes.
And so I ask, how can we then serve with heart and might a nation that will be bound in freedom, peace and unity? Can we do that in the face of the current situation where atrocities, corruption, and evil minds abound?
Do you know that there is no smoke without fire? When the national anthem came out, I want to believe that our country had not degenerated to what it is today. But the people who put the anthem together can be said to have the Wisdom of Solomon and eyes like the eagles. They saw into the future. The second stanza aptly says a prayer, in the midst of foreseen calamity, to the God of creation to direct the noble cause of the nation Nigeria and guide our leaders. The ills are not only perpetrated but leaders as they have successfully introduced innocent and unassuming youths into their evil deeds. So we pray that God should help these innocent youths that have been brainwashed to know the truth, and to grow in love and honesty which our leaders lack. This will enable them to live justly and in the truth; they will attain great and lofty heights to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign. Could that be the reason why it has always been sung that Nigerian youths are the leaders of tomorrow? I bet most of us need to take time and meditate on the lyrics of the Nigeria national anthem. Then we won’t need anyone to tell us what is right or wrong.
Every leader of this great nation should be made to assimilate the message behind this anthem before thinking of leading the Nigerian citizens. He who assimilates it and fails to uphold its unique message stands condemned by himself.
I rest my case.