#ForgottenHistory: Do You Know Nigeria Police Band Actually Composed Music of the National Anthem??

The then Nigeria Police Band (Photo: Google photos)
By (Blogger) Abdulkareem Haruna
The Nigeria police force, which some of us take unrepentant pleasure in ridiculing as one of the organ of security in Nigeria has contributed a lot in our national development?
Apart from making sure our internal security is guaranteed, the police has also in several other ways helped in shaping our history as a country. 
Records have shown that our beautiful National Anthem, which we sing every day, was actually rendered into music, not by any of the military forces, but The Nigeria Police Band!
Don't get me wrong on this.
I am not saying that the police was the one that composed the wordings or lyrics of the anthem; but it was the police band that rendered the lyrics  into music.
Pa Benedict Odiase actually composed the lyrics of the National Anthem, and then supervised or led the Nigeria police force band to compose the music which was later adopted in 1978.
Kareem's Pick blog has it on good authority that Pa Benedict Odiase, though celebrated and even nationally honored as composer of the National Anthem,  was not the only one that did the great work.
Odiase, now of blessed memory (died 2013),  was just one of the team of the great patriots who helped in forging  the  beautiful lyrics that was later played out as music by the Nigeria police band.
The Musical Note (lyrics) of the Nigerian National Anthem as composed by 
Pa Benedict Odiase  (Credit: Wikipedia)
Do you also know that the great composer was  not the original author of the wordings of the lyrics he rendered into our National Anthem??
The real and raw wordings of our National Anthem came from the five best entries collected during a national competition for the anthem, organized by the "National Publicity Committee on the Draft Constitution/Return to Civilian Rule in Nigeria.
The actual authors were  Pa John A. Ilechukwu, Pa Eme Etim Akpan, Pa B. A. Ogunnaike, Dr Sota Omoigui and  P. O. Aderibigbe. They did the job in 1976.
The five patriots mentioned above were the ones whose entries were selected and they later came together to form fine tune the wording picking from the lines of their individual poems.
Pa Benedict Odiase was only a renown Nigerian composer who  formulated the lyrics and led in directing the Nigeria Police band to compose the music of the anthem as written by the five authors.
Pa Odiase's beautiful musical rendition, done together with the Nigeria Police band, was later adopted in 1978 . And it, from then, replaced the previous National Anthem, "Nigeria, We Hail Thee", (which was lyrically composed by Briton, Lillian Jean Williams and musically rendered by Frances Berda).
Pa Odiase, composer of the Nigerian National Anthem Lyrics
It will be interesting to note that Pa Odiase was not the only lyrics composer that submitted his composed lyrics and music of the National Anthem to the Nigerian government.  Other great composers  like  Professors Laz Ekwueme and Akin Euba also sent in their entries. The government found that of Odiase as most adoptable.
Sadly neither the Nigeria Police band nor the five authors of the wordings who are still alive were recognized when Pa Odiase was granted the National honour awarMember of the Order of Niger award in December  2001.
So next time you see or hear the Nigeria Police Band performing, try give them a salute for their uncommon patriotism.


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