Foremost literary critic, Pa Ikhide has lambasted the outburst of some Nigerian intellectuals and politicians against the late Queen of England, insisting that it would be better to have the English monarch’s portrait on a Nigerian currency note instead of the head of Murtala Muhammed, who massacred scores of people in Asaba during the civil war.
The recipient of the James Currey Society Lifetime Award for Literary Criticism made the remarks during an exclusive interview with 90MinutesAfrica, an online discussion platform hosted by Rudolf Okonkwo and Chido Onumah on Sunday.
“Murtala Muhammed, who slaughtered men in Asaba, has his head on one of our currencies, and an international airport is named after him. Port Harcourt is named after a paedophile. I can give you other instances of history that need to be corrected in which none of these people are saying anything about,” Pa Ikhide said.
“If I had to choose between Queen Elizabeth being on my currency and Murtala Muhammed being on my currency, who do you think I would choose? That’s my point. A lot of what most of our scholars and politicians are doing since the passing of Queen Elizabeth is performative. They are just being insincere. The only time we hear from them is when some Western dignitary transitions… but people disappear every day in our country, Shiites are slaughtered in their hundreds and buried in mass graves. You don’t hear any word from these so-called intellectuals and writers. But let there be one person killed in the West, you see them take the knee and say black lives matter because they are doing it for clout. They have zero interest in anything that does not improve their brand. That’s my problem with them,” the writer said.
Reacting to the tweet by Bashir El Rufai eulogising the late British monarch for placing the North at the head of Nigeria’s political leadership, Pa Ikhide described him as one of those poorly educated young people spewing illiterate stuff.
“It’s not his fault,” Pa Ikhide said. “If he is an idiot, it is because we failed to educate him properly about the nuanced role that the British played in the history of Nigeria.”