Nigeria’s new anthem, written by a Briton, sparks criticism after a contentious law is passed

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria adopted a new national anthem on Wednesday, reviving a version last used nearly 50 years ago. This change follows a swiftly passed law, which has drawn widespread criticism for its lack of public consultation.

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President Bola Tinubu signed the law a day after its approval by Nigeria’s National Assembly, which is controlled by the governing party. The bill, introduced and passed within a week, replaced the “Arise, O Compatriots” anthem in use since 1978.

The reinstated anthem, “Nigeria We Hail Thee,” was Nigeria’s first national anthem following independence in 1960. Composed by British expatriate Lillian Jean Williams, it was later replaced by the military.

The decision has sparked significant public backlash. Former education minister Oby Ezekwesili and others criticized the move, arguing that the public was not consulted and the new anthem’s colonial-era language is outdated. Supporters, however, believe the change corrects the adoption of a military-era anthem and promotes national ideology.

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