“Arise O Compatriots”: History of the Former Nigeria National Anthem

Please share post with others.

We learn from history that from 1960 to 1978, Nigeria’s national anthem was the well-known “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.

In 1978, Nigeria felt it was time for a fresh start and sought a national anthem that better reflected its unique identity and aspirations.

Nigerian scholars, including Tai Solarin and Dennis Osadebay, advocated for a new anthem. They believed it should be composed by someone who could deeply understand the emotions and aspirations of the citizenry. 

A nationwide competition was held, inviting citizens to submit lyrics that captured the spirit of unity, diversity, and resilience. Lyrics from the five winning entries by John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B.A. Ogunnaike, Sota Omoigui, and P.O. Aderibigbe were put to music:

“Arise O Compatriot”

Out of about 1449 submissions received; the five best entries were the only ones awarded a sum of one thousand naira.

The music was composed by the Nigerian Police Band under the direction of Benedict E. Odiase. During this time, Odiase was serving in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as both the Music Director of the Nigerian Police Band and the Mid-West State Police Band. He was with the NPF from 1954 to 1992.

Odiase’s composition perfectly captured the patriotic and aspirational spirit of the poem, creating a melody that would inspire and unite the nation for years to come.

“Arise O Compatriot” was adopted in 1978 during the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo

“Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” the previous anthem composed by British expatriate Lillian Jean Williams, had served for 18 years. The shift to “Arise, O Compatriots” was a fresh start, fostering a sense of national pride and unity among Nigerians.


What’s your thoughts on this post? Share it with us in the comment section. If you’d like to listen to or download the Mp3 file of the anthems, click below.

Please share post with others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *