One of the five authors of Nigeria’s National Anthem, Prof Babatunde Ogunnaike, is dead.
He was 65 years.
Ogunnaike was born on March 26, 1956 and hailed from Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State.
A notable Nigerian educationist and publisher, Gbenro Adegbola, confirmed his death.
According to Adegbola, Ogunnaike emerged as one of five, whose words and phrases were combined to form the anthem.
The others were: John A. Ilechukwu, Eme Etim Akpan, Sota Omoigui, and P.O. Aderibigbe.
Ogunnaike attended the University of Lagos for his bachelor’s degree, graduating with First Class Honours in chemical engineering in 1976.
He furthered his studies and earned an M.Sc. degree in statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in chemical engineering also from the same university in 1981.
Recalling how he contributed to the composition of the National anthem in an interview in 2013, Ogunnaike had said: “I recall being on my national service (NYSC) in 1977 (in Port Harcourt) when the announcement came out for contributions to the new National Anthem. And I recall reading some of the submissions because they were then routinely published.
“I believe that most of the second verse of the national anthem (if not the entire thing itself) was the second verse of the poem that I submitted. My first verse had a line similar to “The labours of our heroes past” which ended up in the anthem; I am also sure that many of the other submissions had lines similar to this one.
“I think that my line emphasised “sacrifice” instead of labour and I don’t think I used heroes. I do not have the original submission with me, alas; and that was some 36 years ago now, so it is difficult for me to recall precisely what was in the first verse.”