National Anthem And Misplacement Of Priority

National Anthem And Misplacement Of Priority

The National Assembly is reported to be in the process of reinstating the old national anthem, ‘Nigeria, We Hail Thee’ that was displaced by ‘Arise! O Compatriots’ many years ago. The former was thrown out because it was composed by the mistress of the then colonial master, Lord Lugard, Miss Shaw. The argument by the military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo that gave the order was that Nigerians needed something of their own, an anthem composed by Nigerians for Nigerians. A whole committee was set up for that purpose.

That the old anthem is coming back, decades after, is proof that the work of the committee, made up of eminent and distinguished Nigerians, could not stand the test of time. Curiously, and in that frenzied haste, the critics of that song forgot that the same woman gave Nigeria the name she bears till date. They also did not take time to listen to the lyrics that, in our opinion, conveyed a grasping patriotic fervour that is clearly lacking in the one that is replacing it.

Media reports indicate that the House of Representatives have already passed the bill while it has passed the second reading in the Senate. As a newspaper, we commend the lawmakers for initiating the process of bringing back a beautiful song of a nation trashed, unnecessarily, on the basis of inexplicable emotion devoid of critical thinking. But that is where the commendation ought to end.

As the critics of the legislative move pointed out, this is not the time to indulge in such flights of fancy. Not at a time Nigerians are expecting their representatives to make laws that add value to their lives. They expect legislations that bring about, in practical terms, growth and development and, also, present the country to the international community as a nation serious in its approach to governance with utmost interest in the welfare of the citizens.

The question on the lips of most Nigerians since the diversionary legislative process commenced is, what next? It is important to observe that on the scale of priority, national anthem, as important as it is, pales in relevance to a people bugged down by the hassles of daily survival, in a situation where the ruling elite preach austerity just as they indulge in mindless bohemian libertinage. Afterall, part of the anthem of one of the countries in Southern Africa was borrowed from the song of Nigeria’s Sony Okosun. What this means is that, if the lyrics of a song reflects the national sentiments of a people at any given time, should the composer be an issue as such?  Not to be misunderstood, the anthem of any nation ought to carry with it the feelings of nationalism, patriotism and such level of significance that reminds one of what it means to be a citizen, the demands and expectations.

This National Assembly, the 10th Session, is almost one year old. Since coming into office, and in terms of impartation on the life of the people, what is their record? Nigerians have the felt impression that it is about the worst since 1999. They point to the security situation in the country and the unbridled menace of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists. Progressively, agriculture, in the country, is locked in a deadly struggle with enemies of society as farmers cannot go to their farms for fear of being abducted or even killed. The sad effect of this development is that the prices of food items are hitting the roof as the prospect of mass hunger looms so large.

Nigerians also point out the high cost of living among the ordinary folks and the concupiscence that is the lifestyle of the political elite. When they are not buying exotic cars for themselves, they are embarking on frivolous holidays that question their commitment to the duty of making laws for good governance of the nation.

The National Assembly looks on as the average Nigerian is squeezed daily for one form of tariff or the other. They hide their heads in the sand as services, as essential as electricity and fuel, are recklessly taken out of the reach of the fabled common man. The lawmakers stand unperturbed as youths, the engine room of growth of any nation, wallow in disaster-laden unemployment. They feel nonplussed as foreign investors flee the country and local enterprises close shop because of the harsh business environment.

In our considered opinion, the decision by the National Assembly to bring about a change in the country’s national anthem at this time, with all its attractions, is a clear misplacement of priority. It depicts our political leaders, in particular, those in the legislative arm, as a lazy bunch much more concerned with attracting media attention to themselves than playing their designed roles in the lives of the people. They expose themselves as leaders who have lost touch with the needs and aspirations of the people whom they claim to represent.



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