2022: Seasons of Life

Oluseun Onigbinde
6 min readDec 31, 2022

As the final hymn was being read in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the body of Queen Elizabeth II was lowered into the final resting place; it left me with chills about the fleeting nature of life. Before the lowering, something more symbolic happened that reflected the finality - the removal of the Orb, Spectre and the Golden Crown from the coffin. It was the end of a season, for a monarch that reigned for 70 years.

One would even see that 2022 in its final hours is still not sparing with the exits of the legendary Brazilian player, Pele, Barbara Walters and Pope Benedict XVI. Same could be said of the end of an era of football rivalry with Messi winning the World Cup - the final stamp on his legendary status - and Ronaldo setting up ship in Saudi Arabia. These were giants of an era with indelible works in the frame of times. Times like these would help us understand that seasons are fleeting and we are better off if we sink into reflections on how we live our lives, as we hope for more mercy for full years.

I have always ruminated about how to handle worldly riches. It’s not like I have tons of it but with the size that I have been graced with, I am constantly resetting my principles on what exactly is my purpose. First, I know that as the family gets larger, one is likely spinning around choices mainly on providing a good living for kids. I also think that this is the first primary focus of wealth if one is blessed with children - to provide education that uplifts and gives them the opportunity to chart their paths. It’s about giving them headstart, not a settlement.

I always stutter at how humans in a life of vanity pack riches for their pleasure, build scores of houses they seldom live in or just drape themselves in obscene luxury. Well, every old GRA or local village is littered with such bogus country houses with grand walls - which gives way quickly when the progenitor departs. That’s why I have squared my eyes on how to give the best opportunity in education to my kids, create experiences for myself with travels and meeting people and also give to those in need. I don't promise anyone a fat trust fund or a list of houses.

My size of charity mostly astounds me at times but the grace not to have run broke is in the blessing of giving. I have run a scholarship for my family church in last four years with over 200 beneficiaries, rebuilt a computer lab for my secondary school, and funded a quiz competition in my hometown - Ogbomoso - among others. I can’t list the retail charity given to people in dire need. It seems to be the essence of living, a mild therapy to know that others have ease in this world due to an opportunity to give back. They call it "Black Tax" but I see Ubuntu, that's who we really are.

Well, it does not exclude investments especially to build cashflows that can meet reasonable monthly bills. This is the part that I need to figure out and build incrementally. However, I am appreciating experiences, especially living in nice spaces - an infection that my wife has applied to me. I am also changing my travel routine from hopping from conference venues to the airport. Now, I take a day out to immerse myself in new cities and learn new things. I am learning how to constantly balance experiential living, creating legacies through well-educated children and being intentional about helping loved ones in genuine need. That’s why new goals are not about just grabbing everything in sight, it has to be met with intentional living to be a blessing.

Beyond the reflections, 2022 was good for me in many ways. I have become a passive proponent for “japa” and it is no coincidence that my mother had her annual Christmas party without any biological child present. Well, it started without any party in 2021. Seasons.

Everyone has "wandered" away and it has seeped into the organization. At every school cycle - January and July - there are at least three middle-level managers seeking opportunities elsewhere. I am impressed with their stories in new places but seems we are now in perpetual hiring mode with questions of “who’s next”.

I found ease in issues related to my brother. Ireoluwa had a full body cast hip surgery and her recovery is so excellent. Well, we moved on from B1/B2 and ended with a permanent stamp to live in the US. Our office opened in the United States which was a significant milestone and we had the time of our lives with close family and friends to celebrate my wife at 40. I also had fulfilling moments: I took my family to Ibadan to see my mum after years of the children being away. Grandma really enjoyed the times.

Well, there were pauses with a health scare with checks that came to nothing and Kwerty did not find the lift-off that I wanted but we go again. The final months have been about the long wait on who leads Nigeria next. Well, we understand how the Nigerian elite sees the country as a big pot of soup with long spoons. That’s why to the idealist, every candidate that seemed like our way out of the mess fell short at the national level, especially in mainstream parties. As I wrote in previous pieces Nigeria is on a path dependence on worse outcomes with a sprinkle of incrementalism. Nothing else would be enough except we turn the whole cart and usher in a new political culture. Well, there's no hope for cultural shifts if our current crop of leaders still holds the levers.

I have kept a spreadsheet of goals since 2020 baked into the family, venture growth and personal targets. I feel a huge sense of growth in 2023 as the lure of public accountability rings true again. I also believe this might be the time to step into the new and build something grand beyond my belief. I just have to keep it moving, understanding the seasons of life.

Awards
All the Glory: God

Friend of the Year: Hamzy Lawal (We built new stuff with the CTAP project, moving forward on healthcare accountability)

New Friend of the Year: Khafid (I have known him for a long time but our reunion at my wife's anniversary makes it all new)

Book of the Year: The Arc of the Possible by Waziri Adio - This is the account of Oga Waziri’s stewardship in NEITI and it provides a guide on how we can lead with sacrificial leadership in public service. If I ever get an opportunity to serve the public, I will keep it close to my heart.

Tweep of the Year: @ambrosia_ijebu— an exciting account with beautiful gems about the glaring realities of the Nigerian situation. He seemed to have eclipsed as the anonymity has been blown open. Well, he has to live by his own words — take it like that.

Person of the Year: Bashir Machina - He kept faith in his mandate and led with courage till justice was served. I am really impressed with his conviction despite the power asymmetry of going against a sitting Senate President. I wish him the very best.

Happiest Moment of the Year: Oluwaseun’s 40th party in Miami (I sang my favourite tune (Lover by Omolara) for her and burst into tears)

Saddest day of the Year: The loss of Adewunmi and Fọláṣadé Adejola was heavily devastating. These were my day ones who exited few months apart. It shook my core all on fronts.

Song of the Year: Nzaza ~ Asake (This guy had an amazing year with his Afrofuji beat but Nzaza felt different with progressive storytelling in the sound)

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Oluseun Onigbinde

God's Unfinished Sketch. Policy & Data Wonk. BudgIT Lead. Ashoka, Aspen Voices & Knight Innovation Fellow