I get tears in my eyes every time I hear Nigeria’s beautiful National Anthem and Pledge.
But did you know that there are some seriously surprising facts about the Nigerian anthem?
Let’s get started with the very basics – the current National Anthem of Nigeria is called “Arise O, Compatriots” and was introduced in 1978.
We’ve set out below 5 fantastic facts about Arise O, Compatriots (hint: check out # 3 below if you’re on the hunt for the lyrics of the Nigerian national anthem).
Type “Nigerian National Anthem” into Google and you’ll find there’s no end of people asking the simple question: who wrote the Nigerian National Anthem?
The answer is not so simple.
That’s because no one person can take credit for composing the national anthem of Nigeria.
The lyrics are a collection of different phrases and words which were taken from the best 5 entries to a national contest organised in 1978 for creating a new national song for Nigeria.
The five best entries were submitted by the following individuals: John A Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B A Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui and P. O. Aderibigbe.
The Nigerian Police Band, under the directorship of its director Benedict E. Odiase, put the chosen words into music.
There’s something peculiar about Nigeria’s National Anthem being introduced in 1978. After all, Nigeria gained its independence in 1960 – 18 years before the new song was introduced.
So why in 1978 was a new national anthem for Nigeria introduced?
The reason for the new anthem was dissatisfaction with the old Nigerian National Anthem – “Nigeria Hail We Thee” which had been in place since Nigerian independence in 1960.
“Nigeria Hail We Thee” was written by Lillian Jean Williams and composed by Frances Berda, both British expatriates who lived in Nigeria.
By 1978, a military government was in place in Nigeria under the leadership of Olusegun Obasanjo who felt that a new national anthem, written by a native of Nigeria would be the right decision.
On this basis, the Nigerian government launched the competition we mentioned above. The result was that “Arise, O Compatriots” became Nigeria’s national anthem and pledge.
You can check out the full lyrics of the Nigerian National Anthem below. Our favourite part is the second stanza beginning with the words “Oh God of creation” but please write to us in the comments section and let us know which is your favourite part of Arise, O Compatriots.
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. And 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.
One of the unusual features of the Nigerian National Anthem is that is followed afterwards with a pledge to Nigeria.
Similar to the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance, the national pledge of Nigeria is said at the start and end of each school day and is also recited at public events. The words are as follows:
I pledge to Nigeria my country.
To be faithful, loyal and honest.
To serve Nigeria with all my strength.
To defend her unity, and uphold her honor and glory.
So help me God.
If you want to download the Nigerian National Anthem and Pledge, you can check out the Iroking website which offers an MP3 download of Arise, O Compatriots by famous Nigerian singer songwriter Tiwa Savage.
Another superb option for free MP3 downloads of Nigeria’s national anthem is at the GMusic Plus website which offers a version sung by famous Nigerian vocalist Joan Paul.
We couldn’t finish this article on the history of the Nigerian National Anthem without mentioning Beyonce’s performance of Arise O, Compatriots. Check out the video below…
Thanks for taking the time to read our article. If you enjoyed this piece, then check out our viral article on the hidden meanings about the Nigerian coat of arms.
How does the Nigerian national anthem and pledge make you feel? Please comment below and let us know what you love most about the Nigerian national anthem and pledge.