The estimated reading time for this post is 9 minutes
Amos 3;3, “Can two walk together unless they be agreed?”
By the time you are done with this write up, you will wonder when #PEO became involved in anything politics related. As I am also wondering. You will also wonder if I knew the man from some years back. As I am also wondering. You will then wonder what next. As I am also wondering.
Mr. Seun Onigbinde first caught my attention on my brother’s whatsapp status updates. You see, it was just funny. Plain humor. I thought I was going to laugh about it and forget about it, but, here I am, using my love and relationship blog to talk about a subject that I would not wantto go near with a long pole.
So, the first screenshot was a 2nd of April, 2018 twitter conversation between Pius Adesanmi (late) who I only came to admire after his death, sadly, and Oluseun Onigbinde. The Late Adesanmi had ended his tweet (that referenced any indication of the Seun Onigbinde leaving BudgIT to become a special adviser as reason for the late Pius to seek asylum in Burkina Faso) with, “Our best brains go in (to politics) to be ruined.”
What was Onigbinde”s reply?
“Prof, not going anywhere. No special advisers. I can advise through policy documents. Until I am certain that the guy at the top gets the art of governance, I will stay on this curve. Everyday, I am worried about our legislature. Just that walking in alone is a dot in the gloom.”
A man cannot be more clear about his perspectives, ideologies and intentions than with the above tweet. He spelled out his alternative to being appointed special adviser to any government as “policy documents”. He gave the clause with which he may consider the first option as , “…the guy at the top gets the art of governance”. He already had a “curve” working for him that majority of Nigerians agreed with or at least had come to recognize him with.
Why then did we wake up to a headline from TheCable that read, “Seun Onigbinde, Buhari’s critic, gets FG appointment_ and deactivates twitter account”?
Something was not adding up. And that was what was funny to me.
- The April, 2018 tweet was not an isolated tweet. In January of the same year, Onigbinde had said anyone who planned to vote Buhari or encouraged him for another term did not really love Nigeria. He went on to say such a person is ,”either a closet ethnic jingoist or someone who worships mediocrity”. Those are pretty big words in terms of meaning and well, recognition. I am sure some of us really do need IELTS for them. Last I checked, this FG appointment is under the same Buhari, right? Or did we get another Buhari while I was submerged in Medicine posting?
- A colleague and friend messaged me on this matter with the opinion that time changes perspectives and being a critic of a government does not equate inability to work for/with that government. Agreed, perspectives change, however, they change based on external factors and personal experiences (which are still subject to external factors). If indeed Onigbinde had a change of perspectives, what is the certainty that the appointment did not influence this change? Such a convenient time to suddenly change perspectives, don’t you think? Now, let us even assume the appointment had nothing to do with the change, what then was he planning to work with at this appointment? The man we (and the FG) have known over the years was appointed and then he suddenly isn’t the man we knew? Fishy fishy stew there.
- Then, there is the school of thought insisting on a critic can work with the subject of his criticism, taking that appointment as an opportunity to work his principles. Oh, very honorable. I mean, this is like a man outside the lion’s den who had been taunting the lion with food and better choice meat and even going on to insinuate being choice meat himself. Then, the lion’s den is having a promo and the man walks in majestically. Choice meat. The lion would shred him into pieces before he finishes a step. Unless the lion got a change of heart or the man had somehow learnt how to tame the lion. The lion in Nigeria’s case had not changed and the man surely had not learnt how to tame him. Also, if he intended taking up the appointment to tame the lion, why deactivate his account? Was that not the account ‘housing’ some of his armory acquired over time? Okay. He did not deactivate his account. He did not delete his tweets. He just ran out of data. Or he just did his “usual” thing of ‘clearing his twitter cache’? Again, such convenient timing.
INTERLUDE. (… Burial of some sort…)
After I ruminated over the above, I decided to let it rest. I mean, this is not the first time a former critic gets appointed by those being criticized. In fact, looking back, maybe all those critics were doing all what they did just to be noticed. Maybe it was all just showmanship. Maybe it has always just been a matter of who shouts the loudest gets the position. And Nigeria/Nigerians have always moved on, things forgotten, things back to statuesque.
This wind too will blow. Maybe he would get there and be the different one. Maybe indeed, we were all hasty in our conclusions. Who are we anyway? Mere citizens.
Get peace. Face your life.
FAST FORWARD TO THREE DAYS (…see another resurrection…)
I hear our Special Adviser has resigned.
Based on what?
Two possible things:
- He bowed to internal pressure: this is like saying his conscience got awakened and tapped him like, “You really would have allowed the late Pius seek asylum in Burkina Faso?” Maybe he just sat down to his prior tweets and his prior discourse with intellectuals in his circle and realized he had truly derailed from his true path, message and mission. He realized he had crucified himself based on the account of a true witness; himself/his words/his tweets. This can equate to a wake-up call to a conflict of interest evident in his acceptance of the FG appointment. Well. That would have been good and honorable if he would admit to that and put the issue to rest. Although, it would still bring up the issue of thought process and decision making. This conflict of interest had always been there. Always. He should have considered the possibility of this conflict of interest playing out in real life and what his next line of action would be. Growing up, my parents would tell us kids to imagine morally tricky situations way ahead of time and be certain what we would do or not do. Of course, simulations are never the same as the real deal but they are close. Maybe if Onigbinde had done that, it would have at the crucial moment, given him enough pause to remember his conflict of interest.
- He bowed to external pressure: I am certain he did not see my whatsapp status or that of my brother. He even said he did not see 90% of the tweets about him and this saga. All good. But he saw about 10% and tucked his tail between his legs and ran. So, some people spoke about their wonderment, bafflement, and curiosity about his decision. Some people , mere citizens, said they were overgasted and flabberwhelmed and he cowered and got subdued. Did he not realize that by accepting the appointment, he was swapping places and becoming the ‘Buhari’ while allowing some other citizen take the ‘Onigbinde’ post? So, he could rain brimstone and hell on Buhari and his government but could not weather the storm of less than 10% of twitter users? What a wawu! He really could not? Well, that goes to show how much of a backbone he was planning to put into the job.
He was walking into a relationship with people who did not share the same mindset with him. He was going in to advise people who had been seeing his unsolicited, uninfluenced advice for years and had not listened. He was literally walking into a war zone. If indeed he was going in to put his principles to work, he was setting himself up for massive criticism by those meant to be on his team. He would have had a hard time convincing them to work with him because they did not agree pre-appointment and the possibility of that changing post appointment was slim.
Then, because of very lirru, very lirru criticism from people he could choose to ignore , he resigned. No, that was definitely not a good move, sire.
After this Crucifixion, burial and resurrection, what next?
Where does all of these leave Mr. Seun Onigbinde? Back to BudgIT? No more criticism of the ‘lion’? No more political involvements?
Where, do tell, does all these leave other vigorous and vicious critics? We know those who have been arrested or gone missing, Dadiyata, Sowore, to mention a few. We have those who continue to blow hot and cold air and we are not sure of their stand. We are aware of those who are only blowing hot and loud for ‘PoliticalPickMe’. And there are the real ones… or at least, the ones we think are real. You see, the good Book talks about the heart of man being desperately wicked and asking who can know it.
Where does all these leave Nigeria? Like, the Late Adesanmi said, politics has proven over and over to be the Sense Crusher. Does this mean all our sensible people should steer clear of Nigerian politics in the bid to maintain their sanity, integrity and stance? I mean, I look forward to contributing my quota to the health ministry of our nation but what will become of me? First, if offered, will I even take it? Should I? Now, this is the kind of simulation I was talking about. Fitting in the state of the health sector, the team members, the overruling body, the constitution, can I comfortably step into any such role and do my best? But if we all stay away, that means we are aiding and abetting the not so appropriate options. This is a dilemma.
It reminds me of two verses in the good Book that say, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” That is so …turninoninon. I asked for help on how to marry the two verses and my dad told me a little story.
“A sane man went out to bath in a flowing stream of river. He put off his dress at the shore and started bathing naked. A mad man came, took the sane man’s clothing and started running away. The sane man came out of the river naked. Should he run naked after the mad man? Or should he just seat and quietly wait for rescue?”
I hope this story helps.