“Wahala Be Like Bicycle” In Journalism (OPINION)

By Isaac Asabor

To those that might have at one time or the other heard of the patois “Wahala be like bicycle” for the umpteenth time, they may have been wondering about the etymology of the street expression. However, as gathered by this writer, the patois is used to say “You cannot escape problem just like you cannot afford to go smoothly on bicycle without zigzag movement”. Interpreting the saying within the context of Journalism practice in Nigeria, it is not an exaggeration to say that “Wahala Be Like Bicycle” in Journalism.

For the sake of clarity, the inspiration to write this piece came at the point of taking a self-reflection on my birthday, June 3, 2021, on Thursday particularly about the goings on in the media sector of the economy.  Without any iota of exaggeration, I took to personal reflection on my chosen career, Journalism, on my birthday as I believe it will enable me to process and make meaning of all of the great (and not so great) learning and working experiences I have had in the media industry. In fact, it is not about me as a person. It is about every Journalist that is plying his trade in Nigeria amidst none or irregular payment of salaries, and the unprecedented state of insecurity which Nigeria is at the moment facing. Generally put, it is expedient to say that everyone stands to gain from engaging in some type of reflection even as we can also encourage others to grow through personal reflection.

However, as much as I can guesstimate in this context, the patois seems to have its etymology from Albert Einstein’s quote that says, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”

I must confess that this piece could not have come at a better time than now, being my birthday and in the same vein being World Bicycle Day which is celebrated every year on June 3. The day aims at developing a culture of cycling for basic transportation, commutation, and strengthening physical and mental health.

The day emphasizes the need for regular activity as it can improve one’s quality of life and reduces the risk of developing several diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Riding a bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce one’s health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Without any iota of hyperbole, cycling is a healthy activity as it is low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. In fact, the scraped knees and scratched elbow after falling from bicycles are part of what makes it so nostalgic just like in Journalism where the risk does not deter one from performing to the expectation of his or her employer.

However, as time went by, and we grew up, those cycles were left to rust in backyards and building compounds. Acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, every year World Bicycle Day is celebrated. Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to ask, would there be a day I will beat my chest, and say “I was once a regular bicycle rider?

To buttress the foregoing view, it is germane to recall in this context that my first 3 years in the secondary school saw me riding bicycle on daily basis from Omolua, Igbanke to Oghada Grammar School, in Orhionmwon local government area in Edo State. It is unarguably based on this experience, particularly as I sighted a team of bicycle riders cruising along Wempco road at Ogba in Ikeja, Lagos on June 3, 2021 in celebration of the special day that I became nostalgic and inspired to express this view.

As gathered, World Bicycle Day draws attention to recognize the longevity, uniqueness and versatility of the bicycle, and that it is an affordable, reliable, simple, and clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport.

I must confess at this juncture that the phraseological aspect of Einstein’s quote as cited earlier  that triggered my consciousness is, “To keep your balance, you must keep moving”

Permit me at this juncture to confess that I deliberately spared myself from engaging in joie de vivre on this my birthday as I asked myself “How can one keep his balance, and keep moving” in the absence of regular salaries, and being motivated generally. Truly indeed, “Journalism be like bicycle, e nor balance at all”.

It is expedient to say in the context that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), few weeks ago, precisely in April, berated media owners for their continued non-payment of journalists’ salaries in the country. The union’s criticism was conveyed in a communique issued and read by its President, Chris Isiguzo, at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Asaba, the Delta capital.

The communique read in part, “The Union believes that this negative trend continues to impact negatively on the practice of journalism. “Media owners who owe journalists should discharge their obligations in this respect, responsibly and as when due.

“A situation where some journalists are made to work for months without any salary is an aberration and should be condemned.

Against the foregoing backdrop, the union also called on the Federal Government to provide COVID-19 bail out funds to the media, and in the same stated that “The Federal Government should urgently intervene to save the media industry from collapse. A vibrant and independent media is germane to a democracy and as such should be jealously guarded and protected.”

In the area of security, the union also urged the Federal Government to overhaul its security apparatus, as well as accede to the clamor for state police in order to bolster the security system.

In fact, putting the foregoing views into consideration, it will not be a misnomer to assert that “Wahala Be Like Bicycle” in Journalism, and which is invariably the title of this piece.


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