The Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi has called for strong synergy between the FRSC and institutions learning in the country in the ongoing campaign to evolve a safer road culture in Nigeria. Delivering a lecture titled, “Evolving a Safer Road Culture in Nigeria,” at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Oyeyemi enumerated the challenges of road safety in the country, saying millions of lives lost and varying degree of injuries suffered due to road traffic crashes globally are those of people who come mostly from the developing economies like Nigeria, even though they account for the least number of vehicles.
According to a press release by Bisi Kazeem, Head, Media Relations and Strategy, FRSC, Oyeyemi said ththe alarming proportion of youth who suffer from the menace of road traffic crashes either as direct victims or those rendered helpless due to death or incapacitation of their parents makes it imperative that institutions of learning like the University join the FRSC to find lasting solutions to the menace. He described as “unacceptable,” a situation where youths who form the most productive segment of the national population get perished to avoidable road crashes with consequences development of the nation.
The Corps Marshal however expressed the commitment of the FRSC to finding appropriate solutions to the challenges of road traffic crashes in the country, saying different strategies are being worked out to deal with the notorious culture of recklessness on the nation’s highways which led to negative rating of the county’s road in the past. He noted that with the foresight of the Nigerian government through the establishment of the FRSC 28 years ago, various policies and programmes have been put in place to address the menace, citing the example of Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme, Driving School Standardisation Programme and reforms in the licensing system of the country including the ongoing campaign for use of seatbelt and speed liming devices.
Oyeyemi further noted that as part of the holistic measures to democratise the use of enforcement powers by the FRSC and make participation in road safety campaign accessible to everyone, the initiative of Special Marshals was embedded in the original concept of the Corps. The FRSC boss declared that while the Corps has been aggressively pursuing public awareness creation, it has also tried to blend it with enforcement to avoid making it look as if it is an entertainment. He added however that the Corps has remained largely civil in its approach to issues of enforcement by empathising on persuasion, enlightenment and subtle enforcement before real enforcement, which he described as the last option.
He pointed out that though the FRSC appreciates the public support and goodwill of the people to its operations over the years, some hoodlums and recalcitrant members of the society tend to take law into their hands by exhibiting acts of lawlessness towards patrol teams, stressing that such elements would not find peace, if apprehended. He gave the example of two people in Lagos who recently molested s staff of the Corps on legal duty, but later identified and brought before a Court of law where they are being prosecuted, vowing to pursue any traffic violator who dare to molest his staff on patrol to the last point of justice system.
While commending the Federal Government for its moral and logistics support for the FRSC to carry out its functions more effectively, the Corps Marshal expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buahri for the support, saying the recent endorsement of the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy document by his administration as well as the procurement of 283 patrol and rescue vehicles for the Corps demonstrate the president’s concern for safety of road users in the country. Oyeyemi disclosed that in its continuing search for solutions to the intractable traffic challenges facing the country, stakeholders have resolved on the use of speed limiters in commercial vehicles, enforcement of which would commence very soon.
According to him, the earlier enforcement date of 1st April 2016 was stood down following the intervention of the National Assembly which suspended the enforcement to enable the House Committee on FRSC hold a public hearing to determine the desirability or otherwise of the use of the device. He noted however that with the successful conduct of the public hearing and subsequent submission of the report of the Committee and resolution of the entire House to lift the suspension order coupled with the Court judgment which reaffirmed the power of the FRSC to introduce the device, consultation is on with the relevant stakeholders to set a new date for commencement of enforcement.
Oyeyemi assures Nigerians that FRSC will remain focused on ensuring the safer road environments in Nigeria, pointing out that funding and people’s poor attitude to use of the road remain two major impediments to the campaign to road safety in the country. He however expressed optimism that with the interest being shown to matters of road safety by institutions of higher learning, coupled with the active participation of youths in road safety campaigns as demonstrated by the large turnout of the students to listen to the road safety lecture, positive changes on road usage are around the corner. He called on the academia especially, the University of Lagos to sustain road safety campaign and collaboration with the Corps by embracing the principle of “catching them young,” in their programmes.
In his remarks at the lecture, the Vice Chancellor, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics and Research, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe stated that the special road safety lecture programme was organised as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of the University towards the creation of road safety consciousness among the students and members of the University community. He commended the FRSC for its consistent campaign against road carnage and expressed the readiness of the institution to sustain its partnership with the Corps for massive enlightenment of the people.
Welcoming the participants to the lecture, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Iyiola Oni recalled the historical collaboration existing between the FRSC and the University. He stressed that the lecture was packaged to deliberately build the bridge between the gown and the community in the determination to raise people’s consciousness on matters of road safety which have attracted global attention.
He thanked the Corps Marshal for honouring the invitation to deliver the lecture and assured that the existing relationship between the faculty and the FRSC will be sustained.
The representative of the Chairman of the Occasion who is also the Managing Director of the Leadway Insurance, Mrs Olubumi Asha was full of commendation for the FRSC for raising the stake on road safety consciousness beyond what it was before in Nigeria. She expressed optimism that with the growing awareness on issues of road safety especially among the youths, the nation’s roads would soon witness tremendous change in safer road culture.
The lecture programme which was held at the Main Auditorium of the University, attracted large number of students from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the institution, Deans of Faculties and sub-deans, Professors, Heads of Department, transport unions and members of the university community. It also had the traditional ruler of Akoka community, Baale of Isole Akoka in attendance.