Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomePoliticsBetween National Anthem Act and disrespect for Nigerians by political elite

Between National Anthem Act and disrespect for Nigerians by political elite

For some time now, I have been having sleepless nights. My sleeplessness has not been due to insomnia. Rather, it has been as a result of too many policy deficiencies, the lack of respect for public opinion and the prioritisation challenges of Nigeria’s political leaders.

On May 29, 2024, President Bola Tinubu signed into law a bill that would bring back Nigeria’s colonial national anthem, which had been abandoned since 1978 by Nigerians.

The colonial national anthem was composed by Frances Berda, which begins with “Nigeria, We Hail Thee.” It was written by Lillian Jean Williams in 1959, a year before Nigeria’s independence.

However, since President Tinubu took the decision, opinions of commentators have been vast and varied. Some have said that changing the national anthem does not change the current situation in Nigeria and doesn’t have any positive psychological effect on the Nigerian people. Some have opined that the reversion to the colonial national anthem was a response to criticisms of President Tinubu by former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

It is important to note that the colonial national anthem was changed because the Nigerian government under the regime of former president Obasanjo in the 70s was in search of a Nigerian national identity. During this time, British Petroleum (BP) was also changed to African Petroleum (AP).

I must say that I am not in agreement with these commentators. And the question I ask is: Will President Tinubu put an end to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) because of the criticism coming from former president Obasanjo? Or will President Tinubu and the National Assembly include the 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) he created from the 20 Local Government Areas when he was the governor of Lagos State in the Nigerian constitution as a result of former president Obasanjo’s criticism of his government?

Without mincing words, the crux of the matter is that there is a sadistic feeling in many Nigerians because of the excessive policy deficiencies coming from the Nigerian ruling class; and it is the common Nigerian who always pays the price.

For instance, the introduction of the new naira notes and cash swap programme, which became effective on January 23, 2023, and was expected to last until the CBN deadline of February 10, 2023, was a total disaster.

The fuel subsidy removal about a year ago was necessary, but poorly implemented, which further deepened poverty levels in the country.
Currently, there are many important bills on economic matters, insecurity and diplomatic challenges hanging around in the Senate and the House of Representative that need urgent attention. But political leaders have decided to focus on the colonial national anthem that is part of Nigeria’s dark history.

Disrespect of Nigerians by the political class has become a norm and a common practice in Nigeria. It is important to state categorically that one of the fundamental ingredients for a successful policy in a sane society is the inclusion of public opinion in the policymaking process. It is highly disappointing that the Nigerian political elite decided so quickly to revert to a colonial national anthem without properly sampling public opinion. The political class seems confronted with the challenge of prioritising the current issues being faced in Nigeria.

I see no rationale in prioritising a colonial national anthem ahead of the current economic challenges, including a donation of 25,000 tons of wheat to Nigeria through the United Nations World Food Programme from Ukraine, which is a country that is currently at war. I see no rationale in prioritising a colonial national anthem ahead of the security challenges, which has ensured that Nigerians cannot sleep with both eyes closed as a result of terrorist attacks, banditry and kidnapping.

I am concerned that if a simple matter such as changing the national anthem can be this flawed, then the implementation of serious policies might not be expected to be better. I am wondering if national interests are at the centre of these Nigerian policies. It is never too late for the political class to reflect and retract their anti-public opinion policies to, instead, include policies that are centred around Nigerians.

*Oseni, a former U.S. Police Officer, who is specialised in International Security at Harvard University, wrote via ar.oseni@yahoo.com

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