Twenty six years ago, I ported. I bid farewell to the pen business. The Federal Road Safety Corps was God’s destination for me. It has been 26years of colorful and eventful career, culminating in impactful programs such as OGA DRIVER, an interactive road safety programe on ASO RADIO. Within these periods, I have been honored to man positions such as Sector Commander of the Federal Capital Territory and Lagos as well as two time spokesperson of the Corps.There were others.
This piece is not about me. It is about the Federal Road Safety Commission. On 18th February, 2022, the Commission clocked 34. To mark the feat, we clinked glasses and rolled the red carpets for 34 years of fighting several battles to stay afloat in the business of begging motorists not to commit suicide.
Before 1988 when we were established, we competed with Ethiopia on who clinches the medal as the nation with the worst roads to travel. Ethiopia floored us by clinching the gold medal. We got the silver medal for having roads barely described as slaughter ground for human beings to travel. That was our story when we were birthed. Apathy among road users was a problem. Even among government and the private sector, the buy in was epileptic. The agency was not the preferred place for young and inspiring Nigerians; the juicy Ministries were the in thing. Infrastructure was not as good as it should be.
The road travelled within this period has been rough, thorny and traumatic sometimes. Yet, FRSC has made more than passing impact on the life of Nigerian road users. In 2010 when the World Bank came calling after our poor rating, their song changed. It recommended the Corps as a best model in lead agency in Africa. Today FRSC is a member of the UN Expert Group on Road Signs and Signals. We are the fourth law enforcement agency in the world to have its processes certified in conformity to Quality Management System (with NIS ISO 9001:2008 in Road Safety Administration and Safety Management). Within the Sub-region, FRSC has played prominent roles in birthing and sustaining the West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO).
There are other leadership roles. They include bringing road safety consciousness into the process of policy making and implementation in government and the private sector, professionalism of the road transportation sector as well as mainstreaming of road safety activities in Nigeria. In partnership with other players in keeping with the United Nations charge to government, the Corps midwifed the formation and adoption of a National Road Safety Strategy for Nigeria and encouraged the adoption of non-motorized transportation policy as well as established the National Road Traffic observatory which has harmonized all road safety related data in Nigeria.
In the words of the World bank, FRSC has elevated the efficiency of the emergency post-crash care in Nigeria and pioneered the use of three digit (122) toll-free emergency number in Nigeria and recently the use of body cam as well as an operational control center that has enhanced policing our roads .The Corps currently boast of the highest number of ambulances in the country which has caused the Ministry of Health to coopt the Corps into the National Emergency Medical System and Emergency Ambulance Scheme (NEMSAS)
The commission’s campaigns have helped in reducing the carnage on our roads and have made travelling by road, especially during festive periods like Sallah and Christmas, less of a nightmare. So, all factors considered, the investment has been worth it and the creation of the FRSC by the General Ibrahim Babangida regime can easily be justified.
The FRSC institutional vision aimed at eradicating road traffic crashes and creating a safe motoring environment received great fillip under its helmsmen such as past Corps Marshals,Major General Anthony Hananiya, Osita Chidoka,Boboye Oyeyemi among others. Hananiya brought in his military flavor to up the Agency’ profile,Osita went beyond routine administration to focus on the international profile of the agency, institutional capacity building and operational effectiveness. Oyeyemi built on this foundations. Today we have a commission with globally acknowledged templates for measurable impact and service outcomes. This is no accident, but the result of a clear institutional focus on operations, people and processes.
34 years after, there is increased FRSC presence on the highways with over a thousand formation comprising Zonal, Sector commands as well as unit and outpost while station offices have been set up to address gaps in data collections. The toll-free telephone number 122 for road traffic emergencies has created a seamless communication gateway between the commission and the motoring public, shoring up early reportage of road crashes. The implementation of international vehicle transit charged at selected Nigerian Border posts has also enhanced safety and co-ordination of trans-border movement.
This is in addition to the “One Driver One Record” initiative, which allows for tracking and matching a driver with his driver license, vehicle number plate, insurance and traffic offences in a single view. Meanwhile, the order and control in motor vehicle administration and vehicle insurance management from the FRSC have improved collaboration among security agencies.
The Commission has made great investments in human capital development and has used mostly modern, merit-based templates for staff recruitment. This has gone hand in hand with enhanced staff welfare and improved service delivery. Today we have a Nigerian road user that is better able to appreciate best global safety practice; including the need for private sector and government involvement in road safety issues.
The on-going robust public advocacy on road crash reduction and intensive routine patrols are fully complemented by effective rescue service; with optimal utilization of IT and re-alignment of operational strategies. The Commission also now has improved process that promote transportation safety regulation, through the Road Transport Safety Standardization Scheme (RTSSS). This scheme regulates fleet operators having minimum of five vehicles, with records showing that; 2,445 operators are registered, 9,955 operators are inspected and 6362 operators certified while 3,593 failed certification exercise.
The improved buy-in from fleet operators, robust stakeholders’ engagement and enhanced safety standards has created better interface between road use managers and fleet owners.
While we commend the FRSC for its string of successes, beginning with the firm foundation laid by Pro. Soyinka and Dr. Olu Agunloye, and mindful of the fact that the Commission was able to convince the National Assembly and the general public on the need for the upgrade of the National Drivers Licence and Number Plates, we believe the fees and charges should be reviewed downwards. It is However, on record that the features introduced in the upgrade license scheme has secured Nigerian reciprocity with six European counties and the state of Mary-Land in USA. This allows holders of the new Nigeria drivers’ license to replace same with the driver’s license to replace same with the driver’s license of these six European countries and the state of Mary-Land, USA.
Over and above the numerous recognitions and international awards it has garnered, is the plane fact that the FRSC has come of age. We doff our hat for the Commission at 34 and salute the past and current government for providing the needed state of the art tools to enable the Corps deliver on its set mandate. Other levels of government as well as the private sector are urged to compliment the unwavering support of the Federal Government by giving the Corps all due support and encouragement.