I looked forward to Nigeria bringing us together- Co-author of National Anthem

Benedict Odiase

A police band of five composed the current Nigerian anthem.

Sota Omoigui, one of the five co-authors of Nigeria’s national anthem, has expressed regret at the failure of successive Nigerian leaders to unite the authors and composer of the anthem before the latter’s demise.

Benedict Odiase, 79, a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police, who composed the music of the national anthem, died last Tuesday after a prolonged ailment.

Dr. Omoigui said that his hopes of coming together with Mr. Odiase, after 35 years, in what would have been a historic reunion, has been dashed.

“As one of the five co-authors of the wordings of the anthem, I had looked forward to the day when the country would bring us together – composers of both words and music – to celebrate what we created in 1978,” Mr. Omoigui, a Consultant Anaesthesiologist and Pain Specialist, said.

The words and music composed by Dr. Omoigui, John Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, B.A Ogunnaike, and P.O Aderibigbe; as well as Mr. Odiase replaced the old colonial anthem of “Nigeria, we hail thee.”

“The words and music were composed to inspire all of us – citizens and leaders – to build a great nation,” Mr. Omoigui said.

“Alas, death gave our leaders a long time to get this done but death can only wait so long,” he added.

After the lyrics of the national anthem had been composed, the then military government threw the task of composing the music into the laps of Mr. Odiase and his police band.

“The nation can be comforted that whenever the drum roll of our national anthem is played, Pa Odiase would be smiling from heaven,” said Mr. Omoigui.

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