By Bisi Kazeem
When the Federal Government of Nigeria established the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on 18th February, 1988, it was generally seen as the culmination of all past efforts to address the growing menace of road traffic crashes in the country which put Nigeria road as the most dangerous to drive vehicles on, second only to Ethiopia.
The responsibility of bringing down the rate and fatalities of the crashes fell on the founding fathers of the organisation who had earlier proved their mettle in road crash management campaigns through private initiatives.
With the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka as the founding Chairman of the Commission working in tandem with Dr Olu Agunloye who was the pioneer Corps Marshal of the FRSC, the foundation of a modern organisation built on the ideals of knowledge, service delivery and technology was solidly laid.
The coming of the FRSC with its young men and women bubbling with youthful idealism and armed with various degrees and certificates as the pioneer Marshals took Nigerians by surprise, with their calm mien in public enlightenment programmes, aggressiveness in traffic law enforcement and efficiency in rescue operations which saw them earning instant respect from the generality of Nigerians and giving legitimacy to the new outfit.
After 32 years of its corporate existence and producing six Corps Marshals, including those that served briefly in acting positions who continued to sustain the modernisation process of the Corps, the mantle of leadership fell on Dr Boboye Oyeyemi on July 24, 2014, with his inauguration as the first insider that was appointed into the exalted position. In carrying out this onerous national assignment, Oyeyemi has never looked back in addressing any intractable challenge that could have defied past efforts, having distinguished himself as someone that saw the organisation from its very beginning.
One area that his impact on sustaining the vision of the FRSC as a distinct law environment agency and a lead agency in traffic management and safety administration in Nigeria has remained focused is the area of anti corruption campaign which aligns fully with the philosophy of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
In playing its historical role as a model organisation that has been supportive of the socioeconomic goals of the federal government, FRSC under Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi enthusiastically embraced the anti corruption posture of the government and has continued to lend supportive hands to the campaign.
As many stakeholders pointed out recently, FRSC’s demonstration of anti corruption agenda has been evidenced right from the organisation’s conceptual framework as evident from the institutionalisation of its operational and administrative structures to make service delivery the cornerstone of its ethics. Thus, many questions of corruption and corrupt practices were already answered by the Corps through its diligent administrative and operational mechanisms before they could even become manifest. In his commitment to the success of anti corruption campaign in the FRSC, Oyeyemi ensures that the commands are run efficiently on budgeted allocations which are paid as regularly as the financial releases are made by the federal government to avoid a situation where the commanding officers and patrol teams could be tempted to compromise their responsibilities by resorting to illegal sources of funding their operations.
Through this mechanism, commanding officers are sure of finances to routinely carry out repairs of their operational vehicles and other administrative costs without resort to self-help that could compromise them. Consequently, any operational staff that is found to have compromised the trust of the Corps while on patrol or other official assignments by indulging in bribe taking are not only diligently tried in accordance with the FRSC disciplinary codes, but netted out with the strictest punishment to serve as deterrence to others.
Furthermore, while the law clearly spelt out the amount of fines to be paid by traffic violators as published on the Notices of Offence, Management under Oyeyemi has ensured that the process of effecting such payments are clearly explained to members of the public through regular public enlightenment programmes. Accordingly, whoever goes out of his way to abuse the process by collecting cash from the offenders on the road or in the offices in lieu of the stated procedures are made to pay dearly through appropriate trials and punishments.
In the same vein, though FRSC designs and produces the National Driver’s Licence and number plates, it does not involve itself or the staff in the direct dealing with members of the public who use the documents. Rather, it deals directly with the state government through their agencies such as Vehicle Inspection Officers and State Boards of Internal Revenue under the tripartite arrangement. That’s why Management under Oyeyemi has ensured that the information on the process for acquiring the documents are pasted at strategic locations in the FRSC offices to guide the licence applicants.
In addition, in the deliberate efforts to upgrade the monitoring system of the Corps for efficient outcomes, the Oyeyemi-led Management recently partnered with relevant anti corruption agencies like ICPC and DSS to embark on sting operations where arrested personnel across the country are being tried under the FRSC Disciplinary Panels. And in further demonstrating its commitment to corruption- free society which aligns with the philosophy of the present administration, Oyeyemi-led Management went into partnership with an NGO known as Akin-Fadeyi Foundation to launch an anti corruption App by which victims of corruption from members of the Corps can immediately activate and send report of the transactions to the FRSC Headquarters for immediate remedial action.
In furtherance of its policy on transparency, the present management of Corps Marshal Oyeyemi last year established the National Traffic Radio (NTR) to provide ample opportunity for members of the public to not only get information on traffic updates and road conditions across the country, but report any negative encounter with members of the Corps including demand for bribes directly to the studios. The traffic radio which has been in operation is providing direct access to members of the public through various communication tools for unhindered fight against impunity and corruption among the FRSC personnel and other incidents.
As some keen observers of FRSC and players in the fight against corruption have rightly observed, regardless of whatever negative practices that some few bad eggs in the Corps may indulge themselves in to tarnish the hard earned image of the organisation which have no institutional backing for such operational misconduct, Management under Oyeyemi has no doubt been very committed to addressing such ills in the Corps through its aggressive pursuit of anti corruption programmes and more public support could lead to the realisation of the overall success.
We therefore call on every Nigerian of goodwill as well as international partners to see the campaigns for safer road environment and a nation free of corruption as shared responsibilities for which they should all remain committed through robust use of the platforms the FRSC has provided. As Corps Marshal Oyeyemi has continued to restate in his statements, “FRSC is a public trust and its commitment to protecting public interests through transparency programmes would continue to be vigorously pursued by the Management.”
•Assistant Corps Marshal Kazeem, fsi, is the Corps Public Education Officer