HomeTopicalNigerian National Anthem: All You Need to Know

Nigerian National Anthem: All You Need to Know

In light of the times ahead of us Nigerians, it has become important to cast our minds back to the things that we might have trivialized and lost sight of.

However, that should still be held close to our hearts and ringing —or better yet— playing in our minds; one of these such things is the Nigerian national anthem, ‘Arise, O Compatriots’

Nigerian National Anthem
Nigerian Flags

It should come as no surprise that the majority of us Nigerians sing this song but never with vigor and vim. In fact, a lot of us only hear it whenever Super Eagles are playing, and at those times, the most patriotic of us would stand with our hands across our chest and listen to the instruments play the National Anthem.

Nigerians supporting Super Eagles

Nigeria as a country and Nigerians as a people have been through tough times and, as a result, have been regarded as a resilient people.

The words ‘e go better’ has been on the lips of every Nigerian, probably from the inception of the country and even as we watched things become not better before our eyes, those words still slip through our lips ‘e go better’, or the latest variation of it, ‘we go dey alright, las las.’

And like a magical pill, this phrase —or maybe it is just the unique strength of Nigerians— keeps us going. The true definition of adaptation is reflected in Nigerians, I like to believe, based on Biology, that we are the ‘highest animals’, having intelligence that rivals no other.

If you were visiting Nigeria for the first time, it would be easy to believe that there are no issues here because even if there are, the positive vibe from Nigerians would make you think twice.

Speak of people that know how to laugh, speak of a people that know how to party, speak of a people with big hearts and bursting energy and think of Nigerians. We never miss out on an opportunity to enjoy ourselves.


Maybe the size of our hearts is why we’re called the ‘Giants of Africa’ —South Africans (and all other Africans, probably) would beg to differ, but an adage in Yoruba land (southwest Nigeria), says ‘Eyé meji o kin je Asa,’ translated to mean that there is no bird that rivals the hawk.

In this case, it is the Eagle. And Nigeria has worn its guise proudly as a Symbol of strength reflected in our coat of arms.

Nigerian Coat of Arms

To anyone who wants to argue this, go and drop your argument on Twitter and let’s see if you come back with your head on your neck. Lol. Nigerians are that savage when it comes to defending our country, and that’s one reason I believe we’re the most patriotic folks out there. I know the lot of you would beg to differ, but I said what I said.

This article, however, isn’t to tell you how amazing, magnificent, intelligent and resilient Nigerians are —even though I already mentioned that— but to again draw your mind to the words of the Nigerian National anthem, which we sang with all our might when we were in Primary School and probably didn’t know the lyrics right.

Let’s begin with a little history of Nigeria and how the National Anthem came to be.

According to Wikipedia, Nigeria is a country in West Africa, situated between the Sahel North and the Gulf of Guinea to the South in the Atlantic Ocean.

It covers an area of 923,769 square kilometers (356,669 sq mi). With a population of over 225 million, it is the most populous country in Africa and the world’s sixth-most populous country.

Nigeria borders Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Nigeria is a federal republic comprising 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located. The largest city in Nigeria is Lagos, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and the second-largest in Africa.”

Map of Nigeria

Nigeria is a multinational state which is home to over 250 ethnic groups speaking over 500 different languages and all identifying with different cultures.

The three largest ethnic groups are Hausa which is prevalent in the North, Igbo, and Yoruba, both prevalent in the South East and South West respectively, and together constituting a population of about 60%.

Due to these differences, English was adopted as the official language to reduce the language barrier and promote linguistic unity at the National level.

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Nigeria is divided, religion-based, into Muslims and Christians, and which population is almost evenly divided, with the majority of Muslims in the North and the Majority of Christians in the South. Indigenous religions, such as those native to the Igbo and Yoruba ethnicities, are in the minority.

Nigerian Ethnic Groups

Nigeria is considered a regional power in Africa and an emerging power in international affairs. This owes to the fact that Nigeria has the largest nominal GDP in Africa and the 31st largest in the world, which is why it is regarded as the ‘Giant of Africa.’ The World Bank also considers Nigeria an emerging market.

Before the colonization by the British in the 19th century, Nigeria has been home to many indigenous pre-colonial states and kingdoms, with the Nok civilization becoming known in the 15th Century BC and marking the first internal unification in the country.

The modern state came about as a result of colonization and took its present territorial shape with the merging of Southern and Northern protectorates in 1914 by Lord Lugard. The British practiced indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms in the Nigeria region.

SEE: List of Airlines in Nigeria with Their Destinations

The Nigerian National Anthem

Nigeria gained her independence on October 1st, 1960, and employed a flag known as the ‘Union Jack’ and an anthem composed by a French composer, Frances Berda. The Lyrics were written by Lillian Jean Williams, a British Expatriate living in Nigeria at the time of Independence.

The Anthem titled “Nigeria, We Hail Thee“, had the following lyrics;

1) Nigeria, we hail thee
Our own dear native land
Though tribe and tongue may differ
In brotherhood, we stand
Nigerians all are proud to serve Our sovereign motherland.

2) Our flag shall be a symbol
That truth and justice reign
In peace or battle honour
And this we count as gain
To pass unto our children
A banner without stain

3) O God of all creation
Grant this our one request
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed
And so, with peace and plenty
Nigeria may be blessed

In 1978, the present national anthem, ‘Arise, O Compatriots,’ was adopted after a national contest that saw different entries, but five out of the best entries, created by P.O Aderibigbe, John A. Ilechukwu, Dr. Sota Omoigui, Eme Tim Akpan and B.A. Ogunnaike was selected.

The anthem’s lyrics were taken from these entries’ words and phrases and put to music by Benedict P. Odiase, the director of the Nigerian Police Band.

The lyrics of the Nigerian National Anthem are these;

1) 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.

2) O God of creation,
Direct our Noble Cause
Guide our leaders right;
Help our youth the truth to know,
In love and Honesty to grow and live in just and true,
Great lofty heights attain,
To build a nation,
Where Peace and Justice shall reign.

READ: Who Is the Best Nigerian President from 1960 Till Date?

Writing these words, I remember echoing the same words back to my music teacher in primary school as he taught us the lyrics. At the time, they had no meaning, and up until now, I’ve hardly considered what the words meant, and I’m sure you also didn’t.

The Nigerian National Anthem is a call and a prayer, inviting you and me to do our part to create a nation bound in freedom, peace, and unity. Pleading that we each carry out our duties to our Fatherland with Love and Strength Faith, and doing this so that the struggle of the people that got us to independence wouldn’t be futile.

The second verse prays that the youth will follow the right path. Understanding that the youth are the leaders that need to be guided right.

It prays that they will know the truth, live by love and honesty, and grow in justice and truth, and promises that if they do this, they will attain great lofty heights and build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

Nigerian Youth

SEE: Top Ten Richest Men in Nigeria


It’s common practice in Nigeria to wonder how the nation would move forward, how to get back to the position of comfortability and security where we used to be, and all these while the instructions on what to do have been in our National Anthem.

Put in plain and simple words that if we listened, each one of us, individually, would build the nation we want.

It is true that we have suffered bad leaders, who have lost sight of the direction in which our country should go, and who have as well suffered our youth to be led astray. However, it is the duty of the youth to seek out truth, embrace love and honesty, and deal justly with men.

It is easy to blame other people for failures, but if Nigerian youth refuse to do as admonished in the National Anthem, it will soon be our fault if our country doesn’t attain lofty heights.

Five old men —some who might be gone already— cannot possibly admonish us wrong. The fate of the country lies in our hands, and what better way to do justly than to begin by taking part in the decision-making process.

As elections draw nearer, it is imperative that each youth honestly weigh their options and choose to follow the truth to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.