I have been writing yearly reviews since 2009. This is the tenth version of expressing thoughts around the world, Nigeria and myself. From starting in First Bank in 2009, the glorious hope in Green Acts (my failed (or hibernating) start-up) in 2010 & 2011, resigning from First Bank in 2012, BudgIT in the steamrolling days in 2013, losing my father in 2014, getting married in 2015, welcoming Hannah in 2016 & the largely uneventful 2017, to closing the curtains of 2018, here are trips that flew by.
In 2018, I would accept that growth is happening. I am left with no choice. I am reaching the mid-thirties and a sprinkle of grey hair, tucked around my head is alarming. Life is happening. I also accept that life isn’t a straight line. You set all your plans in motion, but life happens and bends along the way. The Yoruba idiom sums it well – life is not that straight like the barrel of a gun.
In 2018, my family would welcome Ireoluwa, my second daughter. I have come to learn how to revel in God’s abiding grace, day by day. Once a while, another stuff pops up from the doctor’s lips but I am firm in the faith that this is my own gift, perfect from God. I was in Amtrak, waiting for the train to roll from New York to Maryland. I could not wait as my wife wailed that the baby was nigh. A second call to check up on her left my jaws open. She had delivered the baby. That fast? It was a pump of excitement, I grinned all through the three-hour trip like a fool. Getting to Maryland popped it in full glare. Ireoluwa would spend 77 days in the hospital, with over 65 days in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. If anything took a toll on my spirit, it was springing in hope, on a daily basis.
In 2018, I felt the spring in my step. Twice, I listened to Barack Obama and I also had the famous hug with his wonderful wife. When I told my wife of the Obama Foundation Scholars opportunity, she encouraged me all the way. She wanted me to do it but I was reluctant. I was fellowship-weary with over a basket of 8 titles. I remembered sitting in a pub in Joburg for the interview. However, God was plotting the line. Think of the plot of my wife having a baby in the US, the initial complications and myself being just 300 miles away not 6,000 miles (in Nigeria), it is God that writes those lines. I have come to cherish school again and also unlearning the “cram & pass” life; to learn that seeking knowledge is meant to open our minds, not regurgitate the lecturer.
I knew I would have to step aside from leading BudgIT and this is why Gabriel Okeowo (our new CEO) in the picture matters a lot. I have not been able to fully look away from BudgIT. I have played a minor role in defining standards and a ramp of courses in Oxford beamed my face on my missing points in leadership. BudgIT is poised for new things but before we take on that journey either in expanding our African footprint or taking new causes, we need to refix the culture. What started as an assembly of friends, brothers, cousins would not scale without the right culture. I am deeply committed to this and I am thankful for the support of my colleagues on this road.
In all, I am happy that I was able to fix a part of my life – domestication. You know that stuff with a well-paid house help and driver in Nigeria can condemn you to just a man in the house with benefits. With the cost of living in the US and paying a nanny for $550 per fortnight, I had to assume some housekeeping duties. We are seeing the renaissance of strong women voices and how barriers of patriarchy, that sits in the living room cross-legged and waiting for a bowl of amala, is being shattered. I am trying to be part of that new flight.
I am equally grateful for family (especially a father-in-law that sailed through the year), friends, sound health, provision and also being able to donate a new coding centre to my secondary school, an initiative that has crystallised to The Proximity Project.
I am still filled with regrets. I never published that book, did not complete fundraising or BudgIT building and the new skills in playing piano or swimming failed to happen. 2019 beckons with few big dreams.
I will keep it simple – Faith (I need God more to keep the lines straight), BudgIT (I will need to reset the culture, raise new funding, rebuild a new three-year sprint to 10-year anniversary), a new business (a side hustle is a need, BudgIT is proving inadequate for my needs) and book (I must not give the same excuse in 2019, be my reminder). I will leave the rest in hushed lines as worldly possessions deserve no vain mentions.
Looking forward to an amazing 2019. It is to keep focus, accept growth, and live in faith, wrapped in the rap lines of Rooftop MCs “things don’t happen to us, they happen for us”
Friend of the Year: Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa (he’s my assistant but he hears it all, always willing to help, that’s friendship but a great mention to Niyi Agunloye & Steve Okeleji)
New Friend of the Year: Baba Agba (incredible friend and we would gist on everything – APC, PDP and life)
Book of the Year: The Rise and Fall of Nations by Runcir Sharma
Facebook Friend of the Year: Ademola Adigun (His incredible opinion still tells why Facebook is still a gem)
Tweep of the Year: @NaijaFlyingDr (an entrepreneur, evolving economist & brilliant medical doctor, a father of daughters won’t accept less )
Person of the Year: Segun Awosanya (I won’t accept his political views but you can’t deny his voice on EndSARS. He is a reminder that we must see humans as a permissible spectrum, not perfect entities)
Happiest Moment of the Year: Ireoluwa Onigbinde’s birth
Saddest day of the Year: Kehinde Shote’s passing (his death left me with a lot of questions and reaffirmed that we are just extensions of God’s mercy)
Song of the Year: Telli Person ( I just loved the rhythm, it made me dance)