Why Nigeria abandoned the old national anthem ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee’ in 1978


“Nigeria, We Hail Thee” is set to make a comeback and will be played and sung at all official events.

A new bill was set in motion to bring back the old national anthem; it got to the third reading quite fast. The supporters of the bill said the current national anthem lacks “rigour.”

Nigeria’s old national anthem was called “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” and was used from Independence Day, October 1, 1960 until 1978.

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READ ALSO:  HoR Debates Change Of National Anthem Change

The anthem’s lyrics were written by a British lyricist, Lillian Jean Williams. She was domiciled in Nigeria during independence. However, the musical composition was done by Frances Berda. The national anthem only lasted for 18 years. We stopped singing it started singing “Arise, O Compatriots.”

The anthem was abandoned due to its colonial past and lack of resonance with the nation’s diverse cultural identity. It was composed by British people, with Nigerians having little creative input.

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Nigeria needed a national anthem that showed its cultural diversity and spoke about unity, especially after the civil war.

Benedict Odiase, a former police officer from 1954 to 1992 who oversaw the music for both the Mid-West State Police Band and the Nigerian Police Band made the musical composition for the anthem.


Five different writers wrote the lyrics. It was originally a poem that became the song, “Arise, O Compatriots,” and Odiase was entrusted with setting it to music. The national contest’s top five entries provided the lyrics for the anthem. P. O. Aderibigbe, John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, Dr. Sota Omoigui, and B.A. Ogunnaike were the winners.

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