Nigerian National Anthem: All You Need To Know

There is almost no country without an anthem and Nigeria isn’t an exception. In this post, we’ll be telling you all you need to know about the national anthem. So sit back, relax and let’s take a brief but important journey back in time to when Nigeria had no National Anthem.

The first Nigerian national anthem was composed before Nigeria got her independence in 1960, and it was rendered as an independence gift to Nigeria by Lillian Jean Williams, a very popular British expatriate who was living in Nigeria, around the time. The music was composed by Frances Breda (also a British). The first Nigerian national anthem reads:


Nigeria, we hail thee,

Our own dear native land,

Through tribe and tongue may differ,

In brotherhood we stand,

Nigerians all are proud to serve

Our sovereign motherland;

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.


This anthem was adopted in the year 1960, and was going to be the one and only generally adopted anthem, except for constant criticism from different people. Quite a number of notable personalities in the country had reservations about a European, which was the same tribe as our colonial masters, gifting us our national anthem.

The main voice of discontentment was from the popular Nigerian newspaper – Daily Service, which was run by Egbé Omo Òduduwá a Yoruba group, known for “saying it as it is”.

They began a rebellious campaign against the national anthem, and their campaign led to the establishment of a committee which voiced it for notable personalities and any interested persons of the general public to sign a petition for or against the continued use of the national anthem.

In 1977, the petition was against the continued use of the national anthem. 1978 made it eighteen years that the old national anthem was in use and in 1978, a national contest to create a new anthem was organized by the National Publicity Committee and many entries were sent in, but only five was shortlisted.

The names of the writers of the shortlisted entries were Sotu Omoigui, B. A. Ogunnaike, John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, and P.O. Aderibigbe. Pieces of their words were put together to form what is now the national anthem we know today. At the time, Nigeria was under military rule and the music to the anthem was composed by the Nigerian Police Band, under the directorate of Benedict Elide Odiase. The anthem reads:


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.

Oh God of creation

Direct our noble cause

Guide our leaders 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.


The “Arise, O Compatriots” anthem has since been the official national anthem of Nigeria since 1978 till today. Benedict Elide Odiase recently passed away on June 12, 2013 but his name (and the five composers’) would forever be attached and recalled, anytime the history of the national anthem is talked about.

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