I don’t like my opinions trending on social media, especially when people can’t draw the lines between the sporadic frustrations of Oluseun Onigbinde and the institutional level-headedness of BudgIT. Since I am actually shameless if one attacks me personally on social media, folks who want to torment me have learned to work through my emotions—just drag BudgIT into it. It makes my heart pound, especially as I believe my views aren’t BudgIT’s, yet I am obligated to represent it in good light as its primal face and ambassador. But who cares? Without apologies, I must admit that I have had some rough moments in the past, dressing down falsehood and obfuscation in the public sphere. I racked up many enemies who waited until I tried walking into their corner in 2019. They asked for blood, and it wasn't pretty.
If one drew a chart of how much my name still echoes in virtual spaces on trending topics, it would show a sliding trend. Not that I don’t post opinions anymore, but I’d admit that the venom has been tempered. Also, the idea molders on social media have swapped; and it seems the millennials have exhausted themselves in what The Atlantic called “outrage porn,” and the ‘new cats’ now hold sway.
In optimizing public resources, being thrifty about troughs, and respecting the rule of law, institutions, and human dignity, I had remained resolute that there weren’t shades of grey. But, I have found myself on a gradient scale of grey on many issues about the polity. That’s why I was so cautious in throwing my political opinions in the last elections—it was not black and white, as many believe. So, where do I stand? I think the current systems aren’t optimal for the change that Nigeria needs, but I am glad to support those who want to dare in good conscience. It seems my propensity to run away from extremities is looming around.
The election was marred, and INEC deserves a big stick. Still, we cannot ask for a vacuum by delegitimizing the current President till the Supreme Court makes the judgment—which we know has become so conservative, weaving through technicalities. You can call it the good old centrism of the Obama and Clintons, but I am seeking to marry the Venn diagrams of idealism and realism to claim progress for today while we wait until this is all torn down and rebuilt.
I have recently advocated that we must all become idealists, running wild with ideas that seem impossible to those who either resist us or choose to romance with the status quo. However, in our search for an optimal society, we must understand the community we want to shape. A deeper introspection will show us how to proceed. We will likely waste our energies if we don’t apply surgical thinking to how things are to understand if we are at war with culture or people. Such a diagnosis explains our friends, enemies, and frenemies. This is why I am softly becoming neither an “All or Nothing” position. Instead, I accept that life can sometimes be written in shades of grey if we quietly read and understand nuances.
I have also become big on seeking consensus in our opinion-molding rather than arguing, as most arguments are blinded to the nuances and serve to discredit opposing views or assume they don’t exist. We should seek to bring all facts, biases, and hidden agendas to the table. Our interest in seeking the truth means we are open to listening to all arguments to determine the tangible points. For instance, referring to women as “people who menstruate,” or saying children should go through life-altering sex surgeries, or why Rust Belt America is hopping on the Republican agenda or why Peter Obi would record a 97% win in Southeast, or why my pastor voted for Bola Tinubu, require further interrogation beyond the surface. We can achieve a lot through common sense by listening to each other and understanding that we have biases even while we grasp the humanity in others.
I began writing this note as I left Lagos for Washington, D.C., in the early hours of my birthday—an opportunity to have a birthday for 29 hours since the US East Coast is five hours behind. I would spend a few hours with my family and hop to the United Nations General Assembly for a flurry of side events. The last few weeks have been a frenzy, from Lagos to Nairobi to Akure to Abuja, and in between, squeezing out moments to serve family obligations, keep to work and professional commitments, and social events are never enough. While doing all that, I must find time to rest and dream new things. This is the race of life, or, as I have come to see it, being relentless. I have to admit that I like this life, an apathy for stillness. At thirty-eight, it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I have two more years to the big 40, and today, I feel I must keep the acceleration going and pray that the sure mercies of God be the light and staff to keep blazing the path of relentless service and commitment to our service to humanity.