2023: Setting Up for Leap

Oluseun Onigbinde
5 min readDec 31, 2023

2023 reminds me that routine is here to stay, and fighting it will be as futile as boxing against the wind. My life is split between being present with family in the United States, keeping up with the ventures in Nigeria, and also jumping around to keep friendships and relationships warm. I mean the way the year races is a fervent reminder that we need to set our dreams on sail quickly.

2023 might be the closure of the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding wrapped with it. Well, COVID-19 might be over, but public health as a thematic issue won’t walk away. That’s why I doubled down on BudgIT’s investment in the health sector with the development of PHCTracka. We built a thriving health team, finding the intersection of data, design, and storytelling to transform experiences at the primary levels. While doing this, I was also keeping an eye on artificial intelligence with Kwerty — a startup of mine that didn’t find a lift in 2023 after three product iterations — and also “side-eyeing” climate technology from an investment angle. Would you think I am all over the place? Such is the window to the new world! Every fabric of our ideas will be weighed on sustainability and artificial intelligence, and it is better to keep up with the trends, stitching ideas to elevate our current ventures.

Co-joining forces bring me to the 2023 elections — Nigeria’s biggest event since 2015. I don’t think the elections have come and gone with the splintered opposition that gave an advantage to the governing party. Look at the pit that the elections have become on social media, with conversations laced with bigotry and bereft of humanity. I really do understand the anger, but are we not stuck with democracy and the underlying challenges that it offers? Honestly, I underestimated the numbers that Obi could pull — at least 6m votes in a party without structure. INEC’s handling of BVAS ruined everything, and the Chairman should have just resigned for failing to fulfill his commitment. Nigeria is a country with woven complex identities of tribe and religion and with weak institutions that carve in on measly gratification; we should understand that Nigeria’s redemption is a long journey.

I mean, Dangote is receiving crude in bits and can’t even turn on taps after building the gargantuan edifice; oil production has stagnated; we are years away from 10,000 MW of steady electricity output; our non-oil growth is still weak, and the government neither sees the fiscal discipline that removes the allure from public office and its tenderpreneurs. It is business as usual and a long battle for the soul of Nigeria, and unlike the toxicity exhibited on social media, the country will require alliances of equal minds to wrestle its destiny from profiteers.

I am glad that my family is in the right place. All the siblings are in the lift-off stage, and my wife did her solo travel to Nigeria, leaving me with kids for weeks. While I failed to hitch the crypto wagon in 2021 and 2022, which was depressing for markets, in 2023, I failed to see the upswing signal in the equity market. I agree that I am a risk-averse person regarding my little “change,” but I have promised to be a keener observer. I am glad that I finally started my master's program at George Washington University, taking advantage of an online program that allows me to plug in from Ibadan, Ogbomoso, Maryland, Lagos, Dubai, Nairobi, Johannesburg, and so on.

2023 was that year of finding stability and settling in order to find the leap that looms ahead. I gave more time to family, took my mum to Abuja for a historic trip, and also spent Christmas with her (please send plenty of apologies to my wife on my behalf). 2023 was the year of lift-off for Civic Hive; we built arguably Nigeria’s best election result portal in 2023, attracting 3.68m unique users in a day. I became a Young Global Leader and saw traction in BudgIT US operations. I am proud of my efforts in leading a coalition in re-painting our University Library and also continued my scholarship programs in Agbala Itura as well as our Ogbomoso Literacy program.

I will spend more time on the Africa Civictech Fund and also strengthen the Standard Operating Framework for BudgIT. I have learned the need to slow down decisions in the face of fortune and embrace new ideas with vigor. Spending less screen time and exercising is big on my mind in 2024, and also, gradually being close to the Ogbomoso clan is on my mind.

Well, we know that we are in the mode of new things, as evidenced by the crowning of the new King in England. Artificial intelligence tells us a new race is on, and countries are bent on supremacy from space to ocean floors. India is now the most populous country, and that means a new dynamic is on the horizon with the aging population in China. China and US issues are in the open; Sudan has not found peace; Ukraine and Russia are in a logjam; Israel and Hamas are battling again with gruesome views, and global temperatures have reached new heights. With such an imbalance, the year ends on a grim note with the loss of our Sierra Leone Country Director, Alhassan Sesay, and Ayokunle Odekunle, a fellow Ayinla Omowura connoisseur.

I pray it is the start of a new order, as things are looking up and the universe is getting ready for the new leap, either in artificial intelligence, climate technology, or public health. I don’t want to be left behind. I will endeavor to pay more attention beyond the wheels of BudgIT.

Awards

All the Glory: God

Friend of the Year: Caroline Anintah — my assistant and a great help on multiple fronts.

New Friend of the Year: Akin Akinwale — a very “troublesome” fellow with strong commitments to the governing party. It was always good to banter and also believe in opposing ideas.

Book of the Year: The Letterman by Musikilu Mojeed — I had a poor book reading culture this year, a lot of reading was occupied by the weekly The Economist commitment. I need to fix up.

Tweep of the Year: @SodiqTade — Twitter is like a “beer parlor” for me, and it was increasingly funny for this amazing young dude to put things “in the bag” with the certainty of a seer. He made me laugh more than he imagined.

Person of the Year: Peter Obi — Not in my calculations did I see him able to gather at least 6m votes. He showed that a third force was possible and that the agency of the Nigerian voter to demand higher standards from the status quo was possible. It was a clear reminder that alliances are required in a nation of complex identities to take such dreams over the line.

Happiest Moment of the Year: I presented the Alumni lecture of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The honour was a great delight. This triggered a lot of work in the University including painting the Library.

Saddest day of the Year: Losing Alhassan Sesay was a very low point — a person who sent a group Whatsapp message to congratulate his boss and he was pronounced dead three hours later. Grim

Song of the Year: Timeless Album was so amazing as a Davido fan. Too spoilt for choices but I really loved Godfather and Kante.

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Oluseun Onigbinde

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