Last Wednesday, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) might not have rolled out the drums to celebrate the 33rd year of its creation due to the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic among other reasons. Nevertheless, the Corps deserves more than a passing comment for attaining the landmark.
Established in February 1988 through the instrumentality of Decree 45 as amended by Decree 35 of 1992 with a negligible staff strength, the FRSC has evolved into a formidable organisation currently manned by over 20,000 officers and men.
The idea of setting up the Corps for road safety management was a direct response to the chaotic and dangerous driving culture of Nigerian road users, resulting in colossal human and material losses. The scenario could be attributed to uncoordinated and haphazard licensing of drivers and vehicles as well as the absence of good driving culture.
The core mandate of the Corps was, therefore, to inculcate road safety discipline in Nigerian motorists with the aim of stemming the perilous tide as well as making our highways safe for other road users.
Its other functions include recommending works and devices aimed at eliminating or minimising accidents on the highways and advising the federal and state governments, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and relevant governmental agencies on the localities where such works and devices are required; educating motorists and members of the public on the importance of discipline on the highways; clearing obstructions on any part of the highways; designing and producing drivers’ licences and plate numbers to be used by various categories of vehicle operators; standardising highway traffic codes; giving prompt attention and care to accident victims; regulating the use of seat belt, mobile phones and motorcycles on the highways and maintaining the validity period for drivers’ licences.
In exercising these functions, personnel of the Corps have power to arrest and prosecute persons reasonably suspected of having committed any traffic offences. So far, the Corps has delivered on its mandate by gradually reducing the number of carnage on the highways over time.
This has become achievable with the introduction of Special Marshals and Road Safety Clubs in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to complete the operations of the Regular Marshals. It has also developed road safety curricula for various age grade levels.
The objective of the novelty is to inculcate road safety culture in the minds of Nigerians at their inchoate stage.Perhaps the most concrete proof of the howling success of the FRSC is that it has become a model in road safety management to many countries across the globe. It has won several international awards for its efforts.
It is, however, curious to note that despite all these concerted efforts, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its statistics released recently still ranked Nigeria as the second highest country with road traffic accident fatalities out of 193 nations captured by the world body, the first being Thailand.
Among the several factors fueling road carnage that the FRSC has to constantly contend with are the deplorable state of our highways, reckless/drunk-driving, unqualified and poorly trained drivers behind the wheels, putting faulty vehicles on the highways, embezzlement of funds meant for road maintenance, night journeys, overloading, phoning/text messaging while driving and recklessness of commercial motorcyclists.
The decision to introduce speed limiters in commercial vehicles with effect from June 1, this year, which is long overdue, is a welcome development. This will go a long way in eliminating over-speeding and reckless driving especially on our intercity roads.
About six years ago, when the organisation clocked 27 years, it recognised the honesty of some personnel of the commission who returned various sums of money recovered from accident victims in different parts of the country. Those good deeds left many Nigerians wondering whether those personnel were from another planet, in view of the bad image that most of our law enforcers have carved for themselves.
The Corps has evolved under six leaderships with its incumbent helmsman, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, a pioneer of the agency being the first Corps Marshal/CEO to emerge from within the system.
Appointed in July 2014, Dr. Oyeyemi has leveraged on the experience garnered as an insider to continuously jack up the performance level of the Corps from time to time. He has demonstrated a high sense of dynamism in addition to being innovative, proactive and an excellent manager of men and resources.
The FRSC under his watch has introduced a number of reforms aimed at driving sanity into the heads of errant Nigerian motorists as well as liberalising the issuance of drivers’ licences. The installation of speed limiters in commercial vehicles to curb over speeding is another plus to the Corps in its quest to reduce carnage on our highways.
The partnership with stakeholders, including some designated tertiary institutions, on the creation of workstations for the purpose of training and re-training of drivers to ensure safety on the highways has also received commendations from all over the country.
It is noteworthy that Dr. Oyeyemi is, perhaps, the only surviving appointee of the previous government heading an Agency in the Buhari administration and this speaks volumes about his rating in the Presidency.
We salute the Corps for successes recorded so far and wish it many years of fruitful service to humanity.