Àgbẹ̀ tí kòkó ẹ̀ yè, kìí ṣe mímọ̀ọ́ ṣe ẹ̀, bíkòṣe Elédùà.
A farmer with a thriving cocoa farm owes this not just to his effort, but to God.
The day my Mum learnt that I had resigned from the bank to focus on BudgIT after hiding it from her for months, she went straight to CAC Agbala Itura mountaintop. As a firm believer in prayers and a CAC adherent, she could not rule out the devil as the reason why I would leave the most secure bank in the country to start something I could not explain in few sentences.
“Are you a lawyer, teacher, doctor, architect” she asked.
“What exactly do you do?”
I still tried to explain BudgIT but still don’t know how where to classify my work – social innovator, data analyst, civic enthusiast or whatever.
I struggle to fill my occupation too. I have accepted to be a data analyst.
“E sa ma se yahoo oo” my mum exclaimed in Yoruba
She was fine with what I did as long as it was not cyber crime.
I have had challenges explaining what we do in BudgIT. Like what is our benefit? What do we gain from this for those who weigh everything on the dollar machine.
Some people think we serve the interest of a political party or we are just laying stones to join politics. But beyond the optimism of citizens to see government open up that excites me daily, there is the other side, the politicians.
I mean the politicians mostly don’t like what we do in essence. For them, our work to open up government strikes hard the things they do that cannot withstand light. It is by transparency that we can know that a website costs N78m. Imagine if we open the entire nation up, the entire contracts awarded by the state.
Now I have heard voices like:
“ What you are doing is dangerous”.
“You are offending the powers-that-be”.
“Improve your security”
I think about this and how much security can I have. A MOPOL, to watch every car driving behind me or to lock my door more firmly?
Few years ago, I got terrified when I received a call. I got the Ekiti State Budget from a female friend who decided to send it to me in confidence. They had the budget in a slideshare format that was difficult to mine but she sent me the PDF version. I thought this did not matter. A budget was meant to be a public document. I placed it online and tweeted it.
When her bosses saw the document online, they knew she did it. When she called me and raised her voice, scolding me on why I would try that. I could not believe the fear that came over me.
I was so afraid, so scared. Her voice read someone who was about to be sacked for passing on a public document.
“Do you mean placing the budget online in a PDF format can scare a government official?” I asked myself.
It does. Openness scares our leaders because not all they do can be defended to citizens. There is a complex and unholy connection between the state treasury and politics. Politicians strive to protect that in secret.
Does it mean that we will stop doing what we are doing?
Should the fear of the unknown keep us from taking strides that we know make the society a better place? In certain moments of such fear, I was conversing with Chinwe Ekene and she said something deep. ‘If we are so afraid to die, when we will start living?”
That’s why it always take courage to persist, to turn against the grain. Not that I don’t hear these tones “be careful” or I so much relish martyrdom (I don’t) but l take two things sacred: Our refuge is in the Lord and truly if we think about it clearly, everything we want is actually on the other side of fear.
Courage is best said in three words – Just do it!
Keep doing it!