The present Nigeria National Anthem was adopted in 1978.
The words that make up the anthem are from a collection of words and phrases from the best five entries from a national contest, submitted by John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and P.O. Aderibigbe.
The words were properly structured and turned into music by the Nigerian Police Band, directed by Benedict E. Odiase.
The National Anthem has come under the spotlight after TBoss couldn’t complete the National Anthem. The reality is that there are many Nigerians who cannot sing the National Anthem. Another stark reality is that many people do not know the meaning behind the words in the National Anthem.
Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our fatherland
With love and strength and faith
These are the first four lines of the Nigerian National Anthem. It calls on all the citizens to heed the call of the nation and to serve it with three principles, love, strength and faith. Love for the fatherland, strength in hard times and faith that Nigeria will conquer any obstacle. These are the three characteristics every Nigerian should have. Serving the fatherland means you can be called on to defend Nigeria at any time.
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain.
The next two lines remind us not to forget the sacrifices of our founding fathers and people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. Examples of these people are Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikwe, Nigerian soldiers, MKO Abiola etc.
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom
Peace and unity.
The last three lines add two more things Nigerians need to serve the country- heart and might.
If the next line of the anthem is anything to go by, Nigeria is meant to be a progressive country- “bound in freedom.” The last line of the first stanza paints a picture of an ideal Nigeria- united and peaceful.
Second stanza of the National Athem
Oh God of creation
Direct our noble cause
And guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
The first line of the second stanza is a plea to God to help Nigeria with three things- direct the affairs of the nation, help our leaders to make the right decision and give understanding to our young men and women. The plea to God reflects the deep religious sentiments in Nigeria.
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
These two lines are a continuation of the prayer to God, the future of the country should mature with love and honesty, guided by truth. This is the second time love appears in thenational anthem.
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace
And justice shall reign.
Nigeria is an ambitious country that wants to achieve great things. Peace comes up the second time in the national anthem and ends with the declaration that justice will be supreme. This affirms the popular saying “there can be no peace without justice.“