Three and half decades of entrenching safety on Nigerian roads: A tale of the FRSC leadership experience By Bisi Kazeem
Nigeria is one of the few African countries that has leveraged on some road safety principles and have recorded remarkable progress in road safety administration and management despite a ‘gloomy’ beginning. The road safety situation in Nigeria was so deplorable that the World Health Organisation once described the country as ‘worst in the world to travel on’ only next to Ethiopia.
That narrative changed through government’s efforts by establishing the Federal Road Safety Commission as the Lead Agency to guarantee safety on every centimetre of Nigeria’s expansive road network of 204,000km. This establishment was done ten years prior to United Nations recommendation for all member states to establish agencies directly situated under the central government for ease of unfettered operation.
The vision behind the establishment of the Federal Road Safety Corps which is to eradicate Road Traffic Crashes on Nigeria roads is based on the premise that road crashes are caused and highly preventable. Over the last three decades or more, and arising from the above statistics of deaths, injuries and damage to properties, can Nigerians confidently posit that the Federal Road Safety Corps has made policies and embarked upon programmes and activities that are in harmony and consistent with global best practices on Road Traffic Administration and Safety Management? Can we possibly say that the paramilitary outfit has achieved its statutory mandate of eradicating Road Traffic Crashes on Nigerian roads? Can the FRSC be said to have educated the motoring public enough? Have they been able to entrench safe road use culture into drivers in Nigeria? Answers to these and many more questions on Road Safety will give us a sense of direction as to whether or not the 18 February, 1988 proclamation by the Military administration of President Ibrahim Babangida has actually saved the lives it was established to save.
Since coming on board, the Federal Road Safety Corps has as a matter of fact blossomed on all sides through strategic innovations and sheer resilience of its personnel, into one of the most professionally inclined and reputable national institution; and of course, a global brand and an exemplar of best road safety operations and practices in Africa.
Beginning from 18 February, 1988 when the Corps commenced full operational activities geared towards eradicating road traffic crashes, the Federal Road Safety Corps has brought down annual record of crashes from over Forty Thousand crashes per year to below Five Thousand at the moment.
The Corps is and will always remain the frontline agency in traffic regulations in Nigeria. Being the lead government agency for traffic superintendent and guardianship and evolving from a humble beginning with its technical and management headquarters located at no 9 Oshuntokun Street, Bodija Ibadan, Oyo State and the outpost and liason office located in three story building in Wuse zone 2, Abuja with just a dozen Staff and 200 Youth Corps Members operating from 6 locations and striving to get its feet, to transforming into a mega force amongst paramilitary organisations in Nigeria with thousands of formations scattered across the 774 local governments in the country.
Through unprecedented innovations in information and communication technology and effective operational tools, FRSC has grown to become a reference point in excellent service delivery in Nigeria; the benchmark for road safety management and administration in Africa and an exemplar of global best practices in its operations.
The Corps has also been well known in terms of its origin and trajectory which has the imprimatur of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate for Literature, Prof Woke Soyinka, who made it a project and agency to behold. From the pioneer Corps Marshal, Dr. Olu Agunloye to Chief Osita Chidoka all of whom were appointed from the civil population, the Corps witnessed a formidable foundation laying processes that has provoked effectiveness, efficiency and pragmatism in road safety administration in Nigeria. The icing on the cake on these developmental stride came with the appointment of career Staff as Corps Marshal from Boboye Oyeyemi to the present Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu whose innate experience and expertise has and is still giving the Corps the needed push necessary for it to stay atop.
The luscious development is that in its thirty five years as lead agency in traffic and safety management, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has recorded tremendous achievements in the area of Traffic Engineering, Road Safety Administration, Traffic Management, rescue operation, changing bad road use behaviour and Crash reduction. The road traffic management Agency achieved this glorious feat, through a chain of pragmatic leadership, sagacity of different generations of management, ingenuity of its Policy formulators and the dexterity of the handlers of policy implementation.
These leaders have entrenched within the Corps, a wealthy culture of professionalism and excellence in service delivery, which has positioned it as the lead agency in road safety management and traffic administration, with a passionate and enduring commitment to creating a safer motoring environment that is unequalled in the African sub-region. This unquenchable commitment asserts undue pressure on the Corps; thereby propelling it to more than ever before, continue to strengthen its strategies, programmes, knowledge and processes, capable of surmounting all challenges militating against effective and efficient administration of safety in Nigeria.
Just as stated in previous publications, it is most imperative to bring to the fore that beginning from the second decade of the Corps’ existence, frantic efforts have been put in place to expand both the internal and external horizons of the Corps with more robust collaborations on all fronts that has led to a paradigm shift in road safety administration, from Traditional approach to Safe Systems Approach.
Through the use of state of the art Information Technology facilities; the Corps has been able to develop transformational initiatives focused on People, Processes and Technology (PPT) that is why today not only does it staff pride as the most disciplined, but the Corps stands as the best Information Technology (IT) driven organization in Nigeria with its robust data base and over 95 percentage digitalized administrative and operational procedures.
The current leadership of the Federal Road Safety Corps, headed by Dauda Ali Biu came on board in December, 2022 and from inception, the administration took bold steps towards the development of a vigorous framework for enhancing safe motoring environment in Nigeria. This strategic initiative has been the bedrock for the new innovations that have become ostensible in road safety administration and traffic Management in broad-spectrum. The laid foundation is premised on the resolve to place great attention to all the administrative variables that could enhance productivity, effectiveness and efficiency in the work process.
Part of these include, but not limited to improvement in equipment and other work tools such as the procurement of tow trucks for clearance of obstructions, patrol motorbikes, and patrol vehicles, (Hilux), ambulances, and staff buses to convey staff to their workplace; employee motivation through improved welfare, and massive promotion of Officers and men which has been widely applauded by members of the FRSC nationwide; purposeful collaboration with all stakeholders such as transport stakeholders, media stakeholders, inter-agency collaboration, and civil society organizations. His administration is also upholding discipline in all areas.
With the strategies and tactics deployed for decisive continuity and innovation which the Corps has applied in the conduct of its affairs in the last few months, it is given that incredible improvements have been made in road safety management in Nigeria today; especially arising from the continuous involvement of staff in the process of strategy building and developments in operational front which is very significant and has stimulated buy-in in all policy areas.
The Corps has put in place an unambiguous vision and mission projections designed to guide its affairs on short, medium and long term endeavours.
Bisi Kazeem, FRSC’s Corps Public Education Officer