Reno Omokri Criticizes Return of Old National Anthem as a “Giant Step Backward”

by Ohepo Ohepo

ABUJA, NIGERIA – Reno Omokri, a sociopolitical activist and former presidential aide, has described the reinstatement of the old national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” as a significant regression for the nation.

The controversy began when the House of Representatives passed a bill on May 23 to adopt the old national anthem, despite opposition from some members. The Senate followed suit on Tuesday, passing the bill amid public concern.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, urged the National Assembly to halt the bill, arguing that changes to the national anthem should not be decided through legislative debate alone. Despite this, President Tinubu signed the bill into law on Wednesday, as announced by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.

Reacting on his official X handle, Omokri condemned the move, calling it one of the most unnecessary acts of governance in recent times. He argued that the existing anthem, “Arise, O Compatriots,” composed by a group of young Nigerians in 1978, should not be replaced by an anthem written by a foreigner, Lillian Jean Williams, at Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

Omokri stated, “If I look sad in the attached photo, it is for a reason. My heart is very heavy about Nigeria right now because, in my opinion, we just took a giant step backwards in our national journey. One of the most unnecessary acts of governance in Nigeria in recent times is the law returning the old National Anthem.”

He emphasized that the original anthem was created by Nigerians and abandoning it for one written by an Englishwoman undermines the nation’s cultural identity. Omokri questioned the necessity and priorities of such a decision, given the many other issues facing the country.

He added, “Does it not sound preposterous that a foreigner should write our National Anthem? Are we that shallow and uninspired that we cannot come up with our own indigenous anthem? You can imagine the land of such music icons, like Fela Kuti, Osita Osadebe, Dan Maraya Jos, and contemporary stars, like Sade Adu, Burna Boy, Davido, and Wizkid, importing music of national significance from Britain.”

Omokri also criticized Nigeria’s retention of other colonial relics, such as its name given by Flora Shaw and the name Lagos instead of its original, Eko. He urged the nation to embrace indigenous names and symbols, emphasizing the need for self-determination and national pride.

In conclusion, Omokri challenged anyone to name another country with a national anthem written by a foreigner, asserting that even a “Banana Republic” would not resort to such measures.

 

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