Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Odiase,Composer Of National Anthem Is Dead

The man that composed Nigeria’s National anthem Pa Benedict Odiase is dead.CKN Nigeria learnt he died last night in his sleep.We here reproduces one of the last interviews Pa Odiase granted.

One of the greatest fears of Pa Benedict Odiase (MON) is publicity. Although, he should be in the public glare, as the composer of the words making up the Nigerian national anthem, he prefers the quiet life his Oregun, Lagos residence avails him. But like a golden fish, there was renewed interest in the media to get this man to speak about his life, which was buoyed by the fact that Nigeria turns 52 years today as a nation, as well as the recent revelation by the Musical Copyrights Society Nigeria, MCSN, that he had been handed royalties for his work being exploited at various locations in the world. That spawned curiosity on the state of his well-being. Is he languishing in penury like numerous other heroes of our nationalism? How much help does he need from the government? The work he did in 1978 is, undoubtedly, one of the most sung lyrics in Nigeria. A hero by all standards, Pa Odiase retired in 1992 as a Deputy Commissioner of Police after being the Director of Music with the Nigeria Police Band. He shared some insights into this noble endeavour with NGOZI EMEDOLIBE (National Mirror Newspaper).

Many young Nigerians would like to know the origin of the National Anthem which is very popular today?
I composed the music titled “Arise O Compatriots” in May 1978. The words (lyrics) were made available by officials of the Federal Ministry of Information in an open competition.
Did the government provide the words for you to play with?
It was an open competition, but apart from being an open competition, composers were guided that the music must not be more than two stanzas; that explains why the National Anthem has only two stanzas.
When did you join the police?
I joined the Nigeria Police Force in March 1954 and served in the force based on instructions from the Police High Command. I was not commissioned by the Federal Government of Nigeria or any of its departments or agencies specifically for the purpose of writing and composing the anthem. As I said earlier, I was never commissioned by the Federal Government of Nigeria specifically to compose the anthem; it was open to all Nigerians. I sent in my entry in May 1978 in a private capacity and not as a government employee.
What happened after the entries were made?
I was not consulted formally in writing before the work was adopted as the Nigerian National Anthem, but it was verbally announced that my composition was adjudged as the one selected by the Supreme Military Council (SMC) at the time. All individual entries were sent to the Federal Ministry of Information, Lagos. The entries were shortlisted to only three as announced by Mr. Christopher Oyesiku, then the leader of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Choir. The shortlisted entries were those of Professor Laz Ekwueme, Professor Akin Euba, then of the University of Lagos and my humble self.
How much were you paid by the SMC for that adoption? When the composition was formally chosen as the Nigeria National Anthem on October 1, 1978, there was no immediate reward or commendation. I retired from the Force in 1992 as a Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Did you cede the right of the works to the Federal Government?
I have never ceded rights or interest in the composition either by writing or otherwise to the Federal Government. I have the National Honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) given to me in December, 2001. The award was given to me in recognition of my outstanding contribution to the growth and development of music in the Nigeria Police Force as attested to by my citation and not because of the composition of the National Anthem.
Who administers the rights at the moment?
I have transferred my intellectual/ copyright interest in the work, “Arise O Compatriot” being used as the Nigerian National Anthem to the Musical Copyright Society Nigeria (MCSN) from the Performing Rights Society of United Kingdom, for protection since 1998. This decision to accede my rights to MCSN has paid off handsomely as the society has protected my work and paid royalties to me in hard currencies from the usage (exploitation) of my composition around the world and locally.

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  1. Humble,ambitious,dreamer 4a gr8 nation of citizens who value hardwork,service&integrity!One day soon,hopefully,God wl bring his dreams 2fulfilmt.May God bless his journey home.

  2. Ameen...may God grant him eternal rest...4mbdy dat wrote d national anthem since decades is nt remembered till of recent......wat a country..called NIGERIA.

  3. RIP Odiase, u are hero and dlabours of our heroes past shall never be in be in vain, but I still prefer d 1st national anthem "Niegria we hail thee"

  4. RIP Pa Odiase. He was a Gallant Officer.

  5. Why should they pay or give the man his financial right when some of our so called law makers cannot recite the Anthem. Obasi JNR

  6. He is a truly herro