Last week Saturday, I was privileged to accompany Osita Chidoka, the helmsman at the Federal Road Safety Corps to Lagos where the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive was again honored as the best Public Servant in 2012 jointly with the Minister of Agriculture. He had earlier been honored by Hallmark Newspaper with the same award while the Leadership Award is billed for a couple of weeks. On Monday, the 25th, the Corps Marshal paid visits to two media houses, The Sun and This Day Newspapers in continuation of his media advocacy. What I heard during these visits and at the Sun Award spoke volumes on FRSC, 25 years after. A bigger relief came when, at ThisDay Corporate Office, my friend, colleague and classmate at the school of journalism, Celebrity Special Marshal and Managing Director, ThisDay Newspapers, Eniola Bello, presented a copy of ThisDay publication of Monday with an editorial that would swell the head of anybody in my position as spokesperson.
I don't know if you read the editorial but please indulge me to run that editorial as a prelude to my treatise on FRSC AT 25:The Hurdles Ahead, which will run for the next two weeks during which I intend to consider the fallouts of the Anniversary lecture titled "Road Safety in Africa-the Next 25 Years". The reason I am doing this is because my Pastor, Sam Otenaike once told me that nobody laminates and enlarges badly taken pictures. Everybody loves to see himself in a good light and that explains why you should read this. The editorial was titled-The Federal Road Safety Commission's bold initiative is paying off.
At 25, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has made more than passing impact on the life of Nigerian road users. 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 now easily be justified.
The FRSC institutional vision aimed at eradicating road traffic crashes and creating a safe motoring environment received great fillip under its current Corps Marshal, Mr. Osita Chidoka. He has gone beyond routine administration to focus on the international profile of the agency, institutional capacity building and operational effectiveness. 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 process. Today, there is increased FRSC presence on highways, with effective preventive patrols and prompt response to road crashes. 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 charges at selected Nigeria 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's 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-using populace that is better able to appreciate best global road safety practices, including the need for private sector and government involvement in road safety issues.
The on-going robust public advocacy on road crash reduction and intensified routine patrol are fully complemented by effective rescue services, with optimal utilization of IT and re-alignment of operational strategies. The Commission also now has improved processes that promote transportation safety regulation, through the Road Transport Safety Standardization Scheme (RTSSS). This scheme regulates fleet operators having a minimum of five vehicles, with records showing that: (1)2,895 operators are registered; (2) 1033 operators are inspected; (3) 722 operators certified. The improved buy-in from fleet operators 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. Wole 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 Driver License and Number Plates, we believe the fees and charges should be reviewed downwards. It is, however, on record that the features introduced in the upgraded licensing scheme has secured Nigeria reciprocity with six European countries and the state of Maryland in the USA. This allows holders of the new Nigeria Driver License to replace same with the Driver's license of the Six European countries and the state of Maryland, USA.
Over and above the numerous recognitions and international awards it has garnered is the plane fact that the FRSC has come of age, is doing a good job and has some of the best trained staff of all the MDAs in Nigeria. We commend the Commission at 25 and urge the Federal Government to give it all due support and encouragement.