[dropcap]R[/dropcap]asheed Bisiriyu of The Punch Newspaper was not in a hurry to arrive the venue of this year’s Toyota Awards Night, held last week at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. For he never dreamt he could win. But before he arrived, he was declared the winner.
In this exclusive interview conducted at the occasion, Bisiriyu spoke to FEMI OWOEYE of Motoring World International (MOWI) about how he felt winning the award, his journey into Motoring journalism, his best and worst driving experience ever and indeed, the day he developed hatred for his own car.
MOWI: How do you feel winning this year’s Toyota sponsored award?
BISIRIYU: The award came to me as a shock. I never expected it. Before now, I thought we had traditional winners and that some of us were just part players. So as I was coming for the event, you could see I came late. I did not expect to win. Otherwise I would have been there much earlier. So I was excited, when they told me I was the overall winner. The lesson I learnt from this is that over the years, I had kept doing my best. I never thought it was going to be rewarded. But somehow, it happened.
MOWI: Were you aware of the criteria by which the award was allocated?
BISIRIYU: No I am not. All I know is that the award was put in place to encourage us and to also promote their brand. And for me, in Punch, I took delight in writing about Toyota, because they advertise a lot with us. So as a way of encouraging advertisers, we write advertisers’ stories so that by the time they insert their advertisement in our medium, we also support it with stories. I just write. Although I won’t go out of my way to just keep writing promotional stories about a brand. I also write negative stories, when I see it. We quarrelled a lot. So I just do objective stories, and sometimes, when there are good stories about them, I also promote it.
MOWI: How did you get into Motoring Journalism?
BISIRIYU: I’ve been in this profession for about 20 years. When I joined Champion newspaper about 15 years ago, I was covering Transport beat, while Moses Akigwe was doing Motoring. Whenever he travelled or he was out of town, I would do it for him. When I eventually joined The Punch newspaper, I met Akin Olukunle there. He was doing Motoring, and we were doing it together. That was how I started. So when Akin Olukunle left The Punch, the responsibility was given to me, and I started writing Motoring.
MOWI: Have you a dream car?
BISIRIYU: When I was growing up Peugeot was my dream car. But along the land, mayby when I started writing Motoring, that changed. Toyota became the next dream car. And I later found out there are other good cars. One of the luxury cars is my dream car. I don’t want to promote a particular brand, being a journalist.
MOWI: But do you regard yourself as a car lover?
BISIRIYU: Yes. I love cars.
MOWI: Were you to choose between your dream car and your wife, which one would you choose?
BISIRIYU: Of course I will choose my wife, because my wife will take me to where my car can not take me.
MOWI: Since when have you been driving?
BISIRIYU: I started driving after I became a journalist. That was about 15 years ago.
MOWI: Please recall your best and worst driving experience since you started driving?
BISIRIYU: My worst driving experience was when, one day, I was driving with my son on board. We were on a bridge. I was not yet a perfect driver. I thought the-car was going to throw us overboard. So I became jittery. I got out of the car with my son and went to a quiet place and just sat there for about 10 minutes. My son, a small boy, who did not understand what happened was just saying, “Daddy, let’s start going”, and I told him not to worry, that we would soon get going. My best experience was when for the first time I drove a brand new car during a media test-drive. Since I had never owned a brand new car, each time I went for test-drive, especially abroad and returned, I felt like asking someone else to drive my car. I developed hatred for my car.
MOWI: Which was the very first instance?
BISIRIYU: It was when Kia released a new car for us to test-drive on Lagos Island. My car was an old Toyota Corolla. But imagine driving a brand new car and afterwards going back to handle my old car. It was a different experience.
MOWI: Have you a message for Nigerian Motoring journalists, especially up-coming young ones?
BISIRIYU: Journalists are wonderful people. Lawyers referred to themselves as being ‘learned’, simply because the do some reading before going to handle a court case. Professionals who are most qualified to be referred to as ‘Learned People’ are journalists, more learned than lawyers, because you have to know something about everything. A journalist must keep learning; keep reading for them to be on top of their game. That’s my message for them, because although you may not be rewarded now, sometimes in future, you would be rewarded and celebrated.
MOWI: What do you do at leisure?
BISIRIYU: I read. Those days, I used to keep a lot of books. But luckily, now there are lots of things to read about on internet. So I read.
[tabs type=”horizontal”][tabs_head][tab_title][/tab_title][/tabs_head][tab] “Journalists are wonderful people. Lawyers referred to themselves as being ‘learned’, simply because they do some reading before going to handle a court case. Professionals who are most qualified to be referred to as ‘Learned People’ are journalists, more learned than lawyers, because you have to know something about everything.” – Rasheed Bisiriyu [/tab][/tabs]
[highlight]Posted by: Motoring World On:March 20th, 2016 In:My Life, My Car[/highlight]