As the first career officer to have assumed the position of Corps Marshal in the 29 years of existence of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), all eyes have been on Dr Boboye Oyeyemi to deliver and validate the truism that FRSC has come age. And as many staff, road safety stakeholders and members of the public have testified, FRSC Management in the last two and half years under his leadership has improved greatly both in operations and administration. Observers have noted that the successes recorded in the just concluded end of year special patrol for Christmas and New year celebrations were indicative of the level of capability of the Corps to diligently play its role as the custodian of road safety in the country.
Codenamed, “Operation zero tolerance for road traffic crashes,” the 2016 end of year special patrol was an exercise that attracted the most massive deployments of staff and logistics in the annals of the FRSC annual operations organised by the Corps with involvement of aerial surveillance introduced in 2010. Having headed most of the strategic departments of the FRSC including Operations and commanded several zones with commendable results, Oyeyemi who has earned the reputation as a veteran in operational matters of the FRSC, demonstrated his strategic operational competence during the operations. He directed that prior to commencement of the exercise, studies be carried out to determine the traffic trends, corridors, black spots and the required human and logistic resources that could tackle the perennial traffic challenges during the yuletide season.
Interestingly, while his Management deliberated on the operational strategies of the exercise, its plans were boosted by the unprecedented logistics support earlier received from President Muhammadu Buhari whose administration provided over 300 patrol vehicles, tow trucks and ambulances for the Corps. Accordingly, over 36,000 personnel of the FRSC including members of the Special Marshals and the World Bank-assisted heavy duty tow trucks, ambulances and power bikes that complemented the last deliveries of patrol equipment to the Corps from the Federal Government were rolled out for the operation. In its prosecution of the operation, FRSC’s offices including that of the Corps Marshal literarily relocated to the nation’s highways as the Corps Marshal who served as the Grand Commander of the Operation was actively involved in the monitoring exercise.
Members of the Management staff, Zonal and Sector Commanders as well as all heads of Corps offices at the National Headquarters were not left out in the monitoring to ensure efficiency in the operations. “All Commanding Officers are hereby directed to take personal charge of the operation in their operational areas to ensure that roads are free of wreckage. Consequently, cases of gridlock and road obstructions that could lead to travellers sleeping on the road must not be reported anywhere in the country, as such wreckage must be removed promptly,” Oyeyemi stated in his directives to Field Commanders.
The operation which was formally flagged off with deployment of monitors from the National Headquarters on 19 December 2016 lasted till 15 January 2017. In demonstration of their commitment to the ideals of road safety, staff of the FRSC rose to the occasion, especially with the wide celebrations taking place across the commands to mark release of list of the promoted staff. Thus despite the gimmicks played out by some detractors to derail the well planned operation through a strange propaganda that contrasted sharply with the FRSC’s known values, the ever motivated staff remained diligent, committed and focused, making the road safe for all travellers under atmosphere of increased determination and enthusiasm.
It was, therefore, not surprising that as motorists traversed the nook and crannies of the country in their journeys home, they met fully charged staff, who adorned their smartly dressed Combat dress with the newly approved Pea cap to match for traffic management. As some of them noted, the 2016 FRSC end of year special patrol was a huge success and aided in the restoration of sanity in otherwise chaotic traffic situations. “It was so efficiently planned that one could see massively deployed staff and logistics at all the blacks spots; thus the dreaded chaos gave way to sanity,” one of the travellers wrote on his facebook page.
According to Mallam Abubakar Aliyu, a resident of Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, the presence of the FRSC personnel at every strategic locations in the town including the NATACO Junction directing traffic ensured that cases of wrongful parking and road obstructions were addressed, and Lokoja was made free of the usual gridlocks. In the same vein, Dipo, a driver who regularly operate along Lagos-Ibadan expressway expressed satisfaction with the heavy presence of FRSC personnel and their equipment along the notorious highway resulting in free and safe movement of people during the festive period. Mrs Maduka who reported from Anambra state noted the FRSC personnel deployed at the Asaba end of the Niger Bridge, Onitsa created foot lines that prevented random stoppage of vehicles on the bridge, thereby paving way for unobstructed movement of vehicles.
The general applause for the FRSC for the job well done therefore, became the new song among the people as echoed by the Federal Government which enjoined staff of the Corps to sustain the tempo in the new year. According to Engineer Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the diligence shown by the staff during the festivities was commendable and should be sustained in the new year. “I also wish to use the opportunity to commend Management and staff of the FRSC for the efficient traffic management witnessed during the recent Christmas and New Year celebrations with massive deployment of personnel and logistics in all the identified black spots across the country. This should be sustained in the new year,” he stated while decorating some of the newly promoted senior officers of the FRSC on 5th January 2017
In his new year message, Corps Marshal Oyeyemi, while assuring the public of sustained commitment of the FRSC to the safer road campaigns, commended the staff for displaying diligence and commitment during the operations. He stated that FRSC will not rest on its oars, but recommit to the challenges of making the nation’s roads safer in the new year. “I call on all staff and well meaning citizens of the country to rally round the FRSC in the ongoing campaign to restore sanity to the nation’s highways, bearing in mind that road safety is a shared responsibility,” Oyeyemi stated.
As we commence the new year on a positive note, it is now the responsibility of all Nigerians to lend support to the FRSC for the success of the new dimension to traffic management being propelled by the leadership of the Corps through a campaign that makes everyone a stakeholder in matters of road safety. That is in line with Corps Marshal Oyeyemi’s admonition to motorist to, “always drive to save a life.”
Abdullahi, Superintendent Route Commander is the Media Assistant to the Corps Marshal