Despite criticisms, Nigeria, through the activities of the FRSC, has been rated among nations with functional lead agency in road traffic management and solutions to the challenges which road traffic crashes pose to humanity, says BISI KAZEEM .
The attention of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has been drawn to a write up published in the Vanguard online on Saturday, 9 November 2019 titled, “The FRSC: A Cartoonish Safety Agency,” by Ugoji Egbujo, which no forward looking organization could afford to ignore, not in self-defense, but for commitment to best practice and country’s general economic growth; also in the spirit of tolerance and receptiveness to criticism. The Corps is, therefore, constrained to make some clarifications in view of some inaccurate information provided in the said write-up which if left unclarified could be taken as the correct situation by members of the public.
The impressions of the FRSC painted in his write-up, no doubt left many questions unanswered as he was preoccupied with providing materials that could validate his argument such that he did not observe due diligence in taking many things into consideration by asking or answering some critical questions that could have balanced his views. First, was the notion that the FRSC of Professor Wole Soyinka’s dreams would have remained the same organization that came into existence 31 years without taking cognizance of the factors that could have come into reckoning since its establishment?
Second, even by mere development in road construction as well as expansion in the existing ones, FRSC cannot be expected to sustain the same operational techniques that suited the nation’s enforcement of traffic rules and regulations 31 years ago without appropriate modifications. Third is the fact that from the nation’s military rule in 1988 when the FRSC was established to 20 years ago, several changes, which included social, economic and political developments necessitate the need to vary operational modes, policies and tackle the consequential challenges that goes with modernity, particularly in the quest for human attitudinal change.
Fourthly is the fact that FRSC as a responsive organization has continued to evolve policies and programmes that can adequately address the rising challenges in traffic volume and trends, hence the sustained reforms which the Corps continues to embark upon in its management of traffic challenges of the country. When all these facts are taken into consideration in the assessment of what the Corps was set out to do; what it has done and still doing and what it would still do to reach its goals of safer road environment as envisioned by the United Nations General Assembly in its declaration of the UN Decade of Action For Road Safety: 2011-2020, the only logical conclusion that an unbiased analyst would reach is that, the organisation has done well and remains focused to do even do more.
But since the writer took another dimension in his cartoonish analysis of the prevailing traffic situations in the country in the face of the FRSC’s attempts to deal with them, let us use his own method to clear the air. There’s no way that any discernible individual would not acknowledge the fact that the volume of traffic plying the nation’s roads at the inception of the FRSC in 1988 has increased tremendously along with the expansion and sophistication of the drivers requiring different approaches to effectively manage the situation.
Again, there’s no doubt that the FRSC personnel, the patrol vehicles and other logistics required to manage the changing trends are affecting strategies and tactics being put in place to achieve success as we have seen over these years. If these are true, one should then not expect statism in what FRSC looked like 31 years ago when it was established and what it is now after three decades of operations on the nation’s roads, considering the factors earlier mentioned.
Despite the changes in time and space, however, what has remained constant with the FRSC is the fact that its commitment to quality service delivery and its personnel’s attitudes towards safety of human lives and property on the roads as well the focus and determination of its leadership to sustenance of values of selfless service introduced by the founding fathers have remained sacrosanct, as anyone can see. As a human organization, however, it is impossible to guarantee perfection among all its members for the simple reason that the leaders cannot be everywhere at the same time to ensure compliance to the stated values. That’s why it has to rely on third party collaboration which rightly forms part of the Corps’ strategic goals.
We can nevertheless guarantee our stakeholders the personal examples of the leadership of the Corps continue to serve as impetus that drive the spirit of quality service by its personnel at the various levels to ensure that wrong doings are not institutionalized. That FRSC has no “return” system and has an inbuilt mechanism that ensures that those that engage in wrong doings are not spared by the disciplinary codes of the Corps whenever they are caught. That’s why we continue to review our disciplinary codes and trial methods to ensure that while protecting the innocents, those that run afoul of the extant on discipline laws are not spared through whatever gaps in the disciplinary codes, to serve as deterrence to others.
Furthermore, the idea of public enlightenment as strategy for ensuring safer road environment remains central, bearing in mind the need for the Corps to exploit the human angle in traffic management techniques as provided for in our Establishment Act, which we combine with stiff enforcement. Incidentally, that is one area that many people misunderstand the FRSC operations as high handed, as they believe that instead of enforcement, members of the Corps should have been engaged only in public enlightenment which they erroneously believe could make the desired impacts. We disagree with this admonition conscious of the fact that public enlightenment alone without enforcement could only lead to entertainment.
Consequently, in our continuing reforms toward ensuring safer road environment, FRSC encourages states to set up their traffic management agencies to enable the Corps concentrate more on the highways while they deal with urban traffic management with moral, expertise and logistics support from the Corps. While doing this, we consciously monitor our personnel to ensure that those that violate the operational guidelines are promptly punished, knowing that as a service oriented organisation, revenue generation is not the motivating factor in our operations, but the quality of services we render to road users evidenced by how we can reduce the rate and fatality of traffic crashes to the minimal.
As the Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi has always maintained, keeping our roads safer is a collective responsibility, and every stakeholder has a role to play in ensuring safer road environment. That’s why the FRSC continues to expand in stakeholders’ consultation and sharing of initiatives to improve on the existing methods of enlightenment and enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. The confidence that the Corps has been able to build among its stakeholders in the country in pursuing this policy is unprecedented in the history of public involvement of members of the public in policy formulation towards public safety.
From our effective collaboration with transport unions, stakeholders in government and nongovernmental organisations to our initiatives in special Marshal, FRSC has no doubt become a reference point in volunteerism against the menace of road traffic crashes which has been acknowledged globally.
Thus, while we see some of the specific allegations made by the writer against the operational activities of our personnel in parts of Lagos as part of the feedback mechanism we always welcome from concerned members of the public, which are duly investigated with a view to taking appropriate measures against culprits to either redress the situation or change the observed lapses, we see the unrestrained comparison of the present status of the Corps as unnecessary and a demonstration of the ignorance of the writer which we would not dwell too much upon.
We are however confident that with proper understanding of the reforms the FRSC has embarked upon; commitment of its leadership to quality service delivery and abhorrent to corrupt practices, everyone would come to the logical understanding that FRSC has justified its establishment, independence and investment by the government as well as huge confidence by members of the public over the years and that more of such trust could yield even greater positive results.
On this note, let me state that while Management appreciates the huge public confidence reposed in the FRSC which has been reinforced at several times when it was faced with challenges in the past, pulling the Corps down through unnecessary comparison and unbalanced criticism would not serve useful purpose. For as it is today, Nigeria through the activities of the FRSC has been rated among nations with lead functional lead agency in road traffic management and solutions to the challenges which road traffic crashes pose to humanity.
The Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, has been consistent in putting forward the Corps expectation and pursuit to Nigerians. For instant, he put this succinctly when he stated in his address at the 2019 World Day of Remembrance of victims of road traffic crashes that Nigeria will never surrender to the menace of road traffic crashes, but continue to devise appropriate means that could address the challenges. He stated inter alia, “FRSC is equal to the task and menace and will remain vigilant to ensure that our public enlightenment and operational strategies are harmonized towards achieving the goals of safer road environment in the country,”
I wish to, therefore, assure members of the public that FRSC is committed to carrying out its statutory responsibilities, among which is to ensuring safe road use in Nigeria thereby enabling on the nation’s roads through policies and programmes that could lead to the attainment of that goals. In doing so, we would also remain sensitive to public criticisms of what the Corps does and how they are done with a view to addressing issues that could attract public attention through prompt responses that would clear the air especially in areas where members of the public could be misled.
Moreover, there is need for positive attitudinal change on the part of the motoring public as Road Safety is a collective responsibility.
Finally, the Corps has enough Road Safety challenges in its hands than to consider Ugoji Egbujo as someone willing and decidedly intended to pull the Corps down through the Vanguard Newspapers, or any other medium. Indeed, we believe that he is one of those who is passionate about national development and could still advance good ideas, like many Nigerians are doing, towards a better and safer road use in Nigeria. To this end, we wish him well but also wished that he notes one of the Corps Marshal’s pronouncements during one of the Corps numerous enlightenment programmes, when he stated thus, “The expected outcomes of the Corps current leadership are quantitative and qualitative improvements in the country’s road use by Nigerians, realizing that the roads make a crucial contribution to economic development and growth of nations, in addition to bringing about significant and quantum social benefits”. I am sure he will agree that our dear nation deserves these high national considerations.
- Being the response titled Re: The FRSC: A Cartoonish Road Safety Agency, from Corps Commander Bisi Kazeem, Corps Public Education Officer, FRSC National Headquarters, Abuja.