From: Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi Two people reportedly drowned, on Friday, in a fresh canoe mishap in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State. Two days ago no fewer than 19 passengers died on their way from Jeribago in Yauri Local Government Area of the state to Tuteku village in Niger State. The Friday incident occurred…
In the executive pronouncement by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, during an official on-the-spot assessment of the traffic situation in the state, he directed all Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to immediately vacate all Lagos State-owned roads with high traffic.
From all indications, that pronouncement brought sanity to major highways in Lagos State. Such is urgently needed in every busy state across the federation. The Lagos State governor must have been observing and studying the activities of these traffic personnel and resolved that enough was enough. Every hunter, after aiming at the target, believes that it is the right time to pull the trigger. Ambode did that when he announced that both traffic agencies should steer clear of all Lagos highways and stop constituting traffic nuisance during rush hour in the state.
The governor’s pronouncement has triggered a lot of discussions and soul-searching among security observers. The question on the lips of many Nigerians is, how viable are these two traffic agencies? Have they been able to justify the law setting them up and are they really necessary in such an evolving economy, considering the economic situation and criminal activities perpetrated whenever there is traffic logjam?
The FRSC was established by military fiat and, till date, it has not cast out the military spirit and mentality. Even their uniform speaks volumes, if analysed. Each time they wake up on the wrong side, motorists are always on the receiving end. A time was when they stampeded motorists across the country to buy reflective plates for their vehicles at an exorbitant price, yet government never probed into the amount realised, and no one can speak on the amount raked into the agency daily. At another time, they were forcing motorcyclists to buy helmets. While this policy was being implemented, the police was lured into the madness of pursuing motorcyclists all over the country to comply.
Not too long ago, it boomeranged in Maiduguri, Borno State, where motorcycle riders suspected to be members of a radical Muslim sect clashed with the police on their way to welcome their leader, Mallam Muhammed Yusuf, the first leader of the Boko Haram sect. Immediately the insurrection began, the obnoxious helmet policy was set aside. Today, Nigerians are licking their wounds caused by that policy.
Each time the FRSC has a brainwave, it comes up with a policy that has no connection with traffic rules and regulations. Only recently, the agency woke up again on the wrong side and announced that any driver caught making or answering telephone calls while driving would be subjected to psychiatric examination. It did not stop there. According to the FRSC, every defaulter of this unwritten traffic law would also bear the cost of the psychiatric examination, which FRSC has unilaterally fixed at N25,000.
Medical experts have said there is nothing like a psychiatric test, instead they claimed that what is known in the medical world is mental examination. Mental test or examination determines a person’s state of sanity or madness. Even at that, you cannot subject anyone to such an examination or test without his or her consent. While this was raging in the media, the head of the FRSC, Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi, again softened his stand, tongue-in-cheek. This time he changed like a chameleon: “What l said was that defaulters would be classified as emotionally unbalanced.”
Dear Corps Marshal, the economic situation in the country alone can make one to be emotionally deranged. How do you explain the situation of a man who has bills to settle, only to get to his office and the government refuses to pay his salary? Is that not an “emotionally unbalanced patient” at the steering wheel?
In other climes, there are international best practices for punishing traffic offenders, not this surreptitious local method. The white man manufactured both the car and the handsets, and has fashioned out ways to punish traffic violators. One of such is the balloon blowing system that checks if the driver is drunk, and a ticket is issued.
In all, the FRSC has over 37 traffic laws that seem moribund and obsolete. Many are rules that have never been implemented but are violated on a daily basis in the presence of FRSC officials on the road. Now that he has seen that more states are sending his men off their roads, Oyeyemi has gone to dust up the traffic law that says drivers should not beat traffic lights. One is quick to ask, which traffic light? Today, l took out time and drove round Abuja; surprisingly, only three traffic lights were activated. They were at the Ademola Adetokunbo junction in Wuse, Asokoro junction and the Central Bank junction, Central Area.
The latest rule by the FRSC, unfortunately, is portraying it as a “psychiatrist” agency, since all its policies are always summersaulting and end in chaos. Early in the year, the National Assembly had to wade into an extortionist move of the agency when it threw up a plan to collect over N30,000 from every motorist to install “speed breakers.” The public outcry saved the situation.
This is what we get from an agency whose officers openly shaved the hair of female junior officers because of alleged bad dressing. During the Sixth National Assembly, a bill to merge the FRSC with the Nigeria Police Force was to be contemplated. Today, from all indications, it seems there is need to merge the FRSC with the Nigeria Police. After all, the agency has been duplicating the statutory functions of both the VIO and the Police Traffic Department rules and regulations, thereby subjecting motorists to unnecessary hassles.
Dear Mr. Ben Okezie, my name is Chief Ezenwa Bill Onweagba from lmo State. l read the Thursday Daily Sun to known more about security. Your article, “lGPs who saw Tomorrow (3)” was a beautiful piece and advice! l agree with you completely and wish to commend you. Well done.
Good morning, sir. Because of Security File, l buy The Sun newspaper every Thursday. You captured the “lGPs who saw tomorrow” accurately. Mike Okiro is a very good man. Since he left the office of the lGP, no other lGP has given a thought about our salary, they only think of themselves. God bless you for being courageous to bring this out.