In a significant cultural shift, Nigerian schools will soon revert to the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” following the passage of a new bill by the Senate. This decision has stirred public debate and aims to revive the anthem used at independence in 1960 until it was replaced in 1978 by “Arise, O Compatriots.”

The “National Anthem Bill 2024” successfully passed its third reading in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and it now awaits President Bola Tinubu’s assent to become law (BusinessDay NG) ( – News Nigeria). Once enacted, schools nationwide will be mandated to adopt the old anthem in their daily assemblies and official functions.

Supporters of the change argue that “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” fosters a deeper emotional connection and better reflects Nigeria’s cultural heritage and unity. Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele, a prominent advocate for the bill, emphasized that the old anthem is imbued with patriotic sentiments that resonate more profoundly with Nigerians, evoking nostalgia and a sense of national pride (ICIR Nigeria). This sentiment is particularly significant in educational settings, where instilling patriotism and national values in young minds is crucial.

Nigeria We Hail Thee

However, the transition has not been without controversy. Critics argue that the move is a misplaced priority, given the country’s numerous challenges, such as economic instability, insecurity, and educational deficiencies (Wikipedia). Former education minister Oby Ezekwesili has voiced concerns about the suitability of the old anthem’s lyrics, which include terms like “Native Land” and “Tribes,” suggesting that they may not align with contemporary values of inclusivity and unity.

Despite these criticisms, the bill’s proponents believe that reverting to the old anthem will inspire a renewed sense of patriotism and cultural pride among students. Senator Tahir Monguno, chair of the parliamentary committee that pushed for the change, stated that the anthem’s reintroduction is timely and necessary to promote national unity (ICIR Nigeria).

As schools prepare to implement the new directive, educational authorities are expected to roll out training and resources to ensure a smooth transition. This change represents not just a return to a historical symbol but also a renewed effort to imbue Nigeria’s youth with a strong sense of national identity and pride.

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