By Olaitan Oye-Adeitan

Nigeria, we hail thee,
Our own dear native land,
Though tribe and tongue may differ,
In brotherhood, we stand,
Nigerians all, and proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland.O

Our flag shall be a symbol

That truth and justice reign,

In peace or battle honour’d,
And this we count as gain,
To hand on to our children
A banner without stain.

O God of all creation,
Grant this our one request,
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed,
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed.

Penned by a British expatriate, Lillian Jean Williams, and composed into song by Miss Frances Berda, also British citizen, “Nigeria We Hail Thee” was the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from independence in 1960 until 1978, when “Arise, O Compatriots” was adopted.

The government of Nigeria decided to change the anthem following criticisms that it was written by a British citizen, without any input from Nigerians.  

Consequently,  a committee was set up which announced a competition for new national anthem.

Five winners emerged and they combined their entries into one which gave birth to the lyrics “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978. 


  1. 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.
  2. Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause
    Guide our leader’s 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 shall reign.

Director of the Nigeria Band, Pa Ben Odiase composed the music  of the National Anthem which had been in use till Wednesday, 29th May, 2024 when President Bola Tinubu , assented to the bill reverting to the old National Anthem.

The house of representatives had last week passed a bill to dump the current national anthem for the old one. 

Similarly, the Senate on Tuesday, followed suit.

The bill, sponsored by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, (Ekiti Central), had on Tuesday enjoyed unanimous support of the lawmakers who believed that it would promote better symbol for unity, peace and prosperity, compared to the current one.

Senator Bamidele, also said the second stanza of the existing national anthem shall be the national prayer.

However, while considering the matter, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the amendment should not come only by legislative fiat, but should be subjected to a wider consultation.

“I am of the considered opinion that the revered issue of choice of a national item should not come into being only by legislative fiat, or presidential proclamation alone.

“It is not out of place for Nigeria to be guided by the process of evolution of a national anthem in other jurisdictions.”

Amidst several criticisms which believed returning to the old National anthem was not a priority for Nigerians now especially with the biting economy, President Tinubu on Wednesday signed the National Anthem Bill 2024 into law.

 The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio,made this known during the joint plenary that Tinubu attended.


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