Why The “They Destroyed For 16 Years” Narrative Has to Stop

“We are in a recession because the past government looted for 16 years!”

“PDP ruled and looted Nigeria for 16 years!”

“We are seeking loans due to PDP’s 16 years of looting!”

“It is the actions of the previous government in the past 16 years that has brought us to this sorry state!”

The above statements are the most popular by those in the Nigerian government. I doubt you can go an entire day in Nigeria without being reminded, in one variant or the other, how Nigeria would have been heaven on earth but for the past 16 years. We would have become a developed country with good roads, good schools and functional hospitals, and a vibrant manufacturing sector but for the past 16 years. We would have been the leading country in space exploration but for the past 16 years. We would have had good and saintly leadership, but hey,don’t forget the past 16 years.It makes you wish it were possible to excise the period between 1999 and 2015 from our collective existence. Seriously, is there any curse worse than “the past 16 years?”

First of all, it is important to point out that we had an opportunity to rewrite our history and make things right, but unfortunately, we misused it. There was great optimism in 1999 when Nigeria transitioned from military dictatorship to democracy. There was that sense that, at last we could start afresh. It was hoped that given the long fight and struggle for democracy, Nigeria would avoid past mistakes and get on the path to becoming truly great. 18 years later and it’s a tale of squandered opportunities and “ifs.” It can even be argued that we are presently at a worst place in certain regards. There are places in Nigeria that were better off in 1999. I don’t want to mention names, but there are some places you would go to and you would wonder whether they have had state governors since 1999, or whether the federal government still considers them a part of Nigeria. The tarred roads have all disappeared!

So when people rue the missed opportunities of the past 16 or 18 years, it is understandable. However, when that is coming from the same people whose actions have brought us here, it is difficult to take. What is the difference between those running things now, and those who have been doing so since 1999? No difference. If you look at the government, both at the federal and state levels, you will find the same people who have been ruining things for us since 1999 still playing one role or the other. Take the federal government for instance, some of those who are now ministers have been governors before. There are others who have been ministers, special advisers, and so on in the past. Check the state governments and you will find people who have held one political office or the other, from the governor to the special advisers or assistants. The only thing that has changed in most cases is the name of their political parties.

Those who were once policy makers in the PDP are now in the APC, which goes to show that their number one priority is their pockets, never the people. They switch political parties as long as it profits their pockets. They will shamelessly tell us how “the difficult decision” was taken because of the relentless pressure from their supporters and friends. They think we are fools. But we know that there is nothing so sacred which men of mercenary spirits, in whom the love of lucre reigns, will not profane and prostitute, if they can but get money by the bargain.

It is an insult on suffering Nigerians for these same people who have destroyed this country to come out and point at the rape of the past 16 years as the reason why we are in this parlous state. This can be liken to a scenario where a group of soldiers goes to a village to rape, kill, maim, and burn. They then resign from the Army and join the Police. As policemen, they return back to the village where they are accused by the villagers as being the perpetrators of the heinous crime. But they deny any involvement, stating that the crime was committed by the Army, not them. They further argue that the crime wasn’t committed by the police, and obviously, they are now policemen, and therefore cannot be held responsible for the crimes of the Army. Doesn’t that sound like the argument from the people presently in government?

The APC rode into power on the wings of a “change” mantra. The reason the APC won so “massively,” even in the governorship elections, was because they promised the people “change.” But now, the only change Nigerians have seen is a change in the appellation of the ruling party. Things are still done the same way, if not worse. Is there anything worse than hypocrisy and self-righteousness? This government claims to be fighting corruption while it absolves corrupt people serving in the same government. Even when caught with their pants down, they wave it away with the excuse, “innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.” A luxury they are not willing to extend to those they consider as opposition. They have taken to glorious heights the very things they accuse the previous government of doing.

Now,the economy is in disarray, and nobody is doing or seems to be doing anything. In fact, nobody looks like they know what to do. And if you say anything, they will remind you of how the past government looted for 16 years. Armed herdsmen are wreaking havoc all over the place; tell the government to do something and they will tell you how the past government destroyed everything for 16 years. Workers are being owed salaries (some for over six months), solution?The past government destroyed everything for 16 years. Roads are bad, hospitals lack drugs and equipment, education has failed, electricity generation has plummeted, but hey, the past government destroyed everything for 16 years. A government official spent millions cutting grass, and funds meant for IDPs are embezzled, what did you say? The past government destroyed everything for 16 years.

So the questions we should ask are, are they saying that because the past government looted for 16 years, we should give them 16 years to do their own looting?  Were they not elected because Nigerians didn’t want people who would destroy for another 16 years? Didn’t they promise to do things differently? Didn’t they tell Nigerians that they had the solutions to the rot in the system? Why are they now using the past 16 years as an excuse for their ineptitude? They would have us believe that the PDP destroyed this nation for 16 years, which is not totally incorrect, by the way. But who were those in the PDP doing the destruction? What are their names? And what about their accomplices from the opposition parties?

The sad part is that they have repeated it so many times that some people have believed it, are now making the same excuse on behalf of the government. This is not right. We cannot be the ones defending the shameless inaction of those we elected to provide solutions to the nation’s problems. The “past 16 years” narrative has been repeated so many times, it’s no longer funny; it’s beginning to sound like witchcraft!

When members of the ruling APC say, “they destroyed this country for 16 years” who exactly are they referring to? Who are the “they?” It is mischievous for them to be blaming the past government when over half of those presently in the ruling APC party are former members of the PDP. Those who are not former members have been in government in the past through one opposition party or the other. Take the Senate President for example; he was governor of Kwara State for 8 years, and later a senator for over 3 years under the PDP before joining the APC. Can he too say that “they destroyed for 16 years?” Most APC members are in the same shoes.Also, just as the PDP was messing up, the opposition parties were not performing any better. Government corruption between 1999 and 2015 was not limited to the PDP alone. The opposition parties contributed their fair share of the destruction. There was no difference between them and the PDP. It was why they could easily decamp from the PDP to the opposition, and back again, without any qualms.

Therefore, it is hypocritical for those in government today to be pointing fingers when they played the same inglorious roles as those they are pointing at. They should stop the blame game and lead. All this blaming “the past 16 years” is becoming really tiring and nauseating. They were elected by Nigerians because they claimed to have solutions. They were elected to fix the rot, not compound it. So they should fix it, or at least pretend to be doing so.

The economy has literally collapsed, with high unemployment figures; inflation has gone through the roof, and everything is in disarray. What we don’t need right now are sanctimonious people who are blaming everyone else but themselves. The country just seems to be drifting without direction. At a point when we need serious leadership the most, our president has gone AWOL on us, becoming a tourist attraction in London. Nigerians still do not know what is wrong with the president. Some say he is sick, some that he is resting, while others claim he is hale and hearty. We hear different versions every day. The only thing Nigerians know is that he went on a 10 day vacation on the 19th of January and hasn’t returned ever since. Once in a while we are told to pray for him, but how do we pray for him when we don’t know what is wrong with him? What do we pray for exactly? This is shameful!

The “they destroyed everything for 16 years” narrative has to stop; it is hypocritical. This government should concentrate on providing leadership. That’s the least Nigerians expect from them. The fact that some people looted for 16 years (in fact, they’ve been looting since 1960!) does not mean that Nigerians should put their lives on hold, and allow the little left to be destroyed. Of course, we must not forget the past, but then, we need leaders who will take us forward, not self-righteous people whose stock in trade is blaming others while doing worse things.

Finally, for those who thrive on blaming others, this is what you should consider.If you say that your predecessor was incompetent – an assertion not without merit – and things were better under your predecessor, what does that make you?

Imagecredit: http://www.lygsbfd.wordpress.com

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