Inside Nigeria

10 Years Ago, President Jonathan’s CONFAB Recommended the New-Old National Anthem-By Kayode Ajulo

It is with the utmost gravity and reverence that I once again elected to address the concerns surrounding our New-Old National Anthem, “Nigeria We Hail Thee.”

I empathize profoundly with the immense economic challenges and the spiraling cost of living that have tried the patience of our people which invariably will make any populace kick against any policy that failed to address these economic concerns.

Nevertheless, I must assert, in the most explicit and unequivocal terms, the adoption of the New-Old National Anthem by the President Bola Tinubu, GCFR and passed into law by the National Assembly in 2024 was ten year ago, recommended by the 2014 National Conference, put together by presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, this we must note holds profound legal and historical significance.

Let us not forget that our nation, as it stands today, is a construct of British imperialism. While this fact may be unpalatable, it is an inescapable reality that we, as a people, have come to embrace and build upon. Similarly, the adoption of our current national anthem, penned by the British author Lillian Williams, was a considered and purposeful decision made by our forefathers upon the attainment of independence. Similarly, Nigeria as it is, is a comptraction put together by the British Imperialists and most our our institutions till date is part and parcel of such heritage.

The legal and legislative process that led to the recent codification of “Nigeria We Hail Thee” as our national anthem was transparent and inclusive. The fact that our citizens did not voice their concerns during the deliberations in the National Assembly does not diminish the validity of the outcome.

I must also address the concerns raised by our feminist compatriots regarding the lack of explicit mention of “sisterhood” in the anthem. Their observations are indeed valid, and we must acknowledge the crucial role of women in shaping our national identity. The recognition of our “sovereign Motherland” in the first stanza can be seen as a nod to this vital contribution, but we must remain vigilant in our pursuit of greater inclusivity and representation in our national symbols.

As we navigate these challenging times, we need to approach issues with a spirit of constructive dialogue cum civic engagement and civil disobedience.

While the economic hardships we face are undoubtedly immense, we must not lose sight of the historical and legal significance of our national anthem. By working together, in a manner befitting the dignity of our sovereign Motherland, we can strive to create a more just, inclusive, and prosperous Nigeria.

Let us remember that it is our sacred duty to have regard and respect for our State symbols, National Flag, Coat of Arms, Anthem, and Currencies, as enjoined by our laws. It is axiomatic that legislative enactments inherently entail correlative sanctions, which may manifest as punitive measures and/or financial penalties.

In conclusion, I empathize with the challenges faced by our compatriots and the desire to express their dissatisfaction. However, I would encourage a more holistic approach that addresses the underlying economic and social issues, while also considering the historical and symbolic significance of our national anthem. By working together in a spirit of constructive dialogue and civic engagement, we can strive to create a more just, inclusive, and prosperous Nigeria, befitting the grandeur of our sovereign Motherland.

-Dr Olukayode Ajulo, OON, SAN, is the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ondo State


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