The Media Perspectives
The establishment of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in 1988, was no doubt, a response to the challenges posed by road traffic crashes which continually claim lives of Nigerians, mainly the virile and most productive age bracket that have made the nation’s roads unsafe for users.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which preceded the establishment of the FRSC, Nigeria’s road was categorised as the worst in Africa, second only to that of Ethiopia. It is instructive to note that no conscious government built on the need to protect and preserve human lives will watch the wanton destruction of lives and property of the people without taking appropriate measures through policy decision to halt the carnage.
The FRSC was therefore established with statutory mandate to reverse the trend in road traffic crashes and the wanton corollary. This decision has been described by some observers as a right step and in alignment with the modernist focus of any responsible government. This is why prevention and reduction of road traffic crashes through measures that could create safe road environment for all remain the defining role of the FRSC, which successive leadership of the Corps kept working hard to uphold. Thus, the failure and success of the Corps are measured by the extent to which it can or cannot carry out these critical national mandates.
Little wonder the Corps anchors most of its policy formulations and implementation on robust public enlightenment and sustained media relations in partial fulfilment of Section 3 (c) of the FRSC Establishment Act 2007 which empowers the Corps to “educate drivers, motorists and other members of the public generally on proper use of the highways”
Since the establishment of the FRSC, it has continued to device various means to curtail incidence of road carnage. As a modern organisation, the Corps’ change agents are anchored on the instruments of education, engineering and enforcement, to achieve its onerous national assignment with public enlightenment standing as one of the core values of the Federal Road Safety Corps in its desire to entrench safer road culture in Nigeria.
Through the instrumentality of education, drivers are taught to appreciate the fact that road traffic crashes don’t just happen but that they are actually caused, either by the omission or commission of the drivers or other road users. Therefore, the menace can be prevented if sufficient measures are put in place and people are made to observe them. In the same vein, it is being stressed that since drivers drive on the road and operate mechanically propelled vehicles, how this is done influence occurrence or otherwise of road traffic crashes.
Accordingly, what matters is not the nature of the road, or even the status of the vehicle, the most important factor in crash occurrence remains the driver, who makes use of these factors to either achieve safety or make the road unsafe.
LEADERSHIP OF THE CORPS
With Professor Wole Soyinka as the first Chairman of the FRSC, the Corps’ leadership has transited from one eminent personality to another with impeccable records on public administration before resting on the present Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Olayemi Oyeyemi MFR, mni, NPoM, thus becoming the first career staff of the Corps to attain this status. He was also part of the team that kick-started the FRSC from its cradle stage to set up what is today known as the Lead Agency on road safety in the whole of Africa. The Corps still remains committed to the visions of its founders as made manifest through the leadership initiatives and penchant for improved service delivery of the Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi.
The trajectory of his career as a road safety pioneer member from the day of the Agency’s conception till this present date, are the very factors that have shaped him as an all-rounder in road safety management and administration with a firm and fair handling of goal-oriented affairs as the Corps Marshal of the FRSC today.
The Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi began his career from the rank of a Superintendent Route Commander (SRC), and has over the course of 26 years, exactly on Wednesday the 23rd of July 2014, risen to the position of the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive and the first career staff of the Corps to have risen to this status. Before joining the FRSC, It is also interesting to note that the Corps Marshal had a stint with the Federal Radio Corporation as an accomplished media practitioner.
He has since proven to be an accomplished administrator who leads by example, and with all the qualities of leadership. It is interesting to note that his leadership cuts across tribes, religion and cultural boundaries.
EARLY LIFE OF DR. BOBOYE OYEYEMI
Born in Ibadan, Oyo State, to the family of Reverend Michael Babalola Oyeyemi from Odo Owa, Oke Ero Local Government Area Council of Kwara State, the Corps Marshal started his primary school at First Baptist Primary School, Ibadan, Oyo State, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC).
With the best of grades, young Boboye Oyeyemi proceeded to Christ High School Ibadan, Oyo State, where he obtained his West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) as one of the most distinguished performers at that level.
Buoyed by this excellent performance, he gained admission into The Polytechnic Ibadan, Oyo state, where he studied Electrical Engineering and obtained his National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma and subsequently proceeded to the University of Lagos, Lagos State, for his Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Transport Management and also obtained his Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from the same University.
The crave for knowledge also motivated the Corps Marshal to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) in Enugu State where he obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Transport Administration.
The Corps Marshal also attended the following institutions:
- Harvard University School of Government.
- Royal Institute for Public Administration (RIPA), London.
- The prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at Kuru, Plateau State, Nigeria.
- Police Training Division, Suffern, New York for the Glock Armorer’s and Firearms Safety Course.
- Region VI Police Driving School, Wilshire County, Devices, England;
- Sleep Research Laboratory, Loughborough University, UK.
- Glock, John R Wald Inc; NY, USA.
- Shot gun Instructors Course, NY, USA and John R Wald Inc, USA (Number Plates Admin)
He is also a member of 22 Professional bodies and a fellow of some among others in the following Institutes:
- Member, International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (MIIRSM), London.
- Member, American Society of Safety Engineers (MASSE), USA.
- Member, Institute of Road Safety Officers (MIRSO), London.
- Member, International Association of Chiefs of Police (MIACP), USA.
- Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer (MIEEE), USA.
- Member, Institute of Transportation Engineers (MITE), USA.
- Member Institute of Engineering and Technology (MIET), London.
- Member International Road Federation (MIRF).
- Fellow Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON), Chartered
- Fellow, Institute of Corporate Administration (FCAI) Abuja.
- Fellow, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT), London
- Fellow, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (FCIPM).
- Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administration (FCIA).
PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT AS A CORE VALUE TOWARDS ROAD SAFETY MANAGEMENT
In the words of Orison Swett Marden, “People who have accomplished work worthwhile, have had a very high sense of way to do things. They have not been content with mediocrity. They have not confined themselves to the beaten tracks, they have never been satisfied to do things just as others do them, but always a little better. They always push things that come to their hands a little higher up, this little”
Leveraging on the above, and against the backdrop of the FRSC management’s disposition to public enlightenment as a critical element towards effective road safety management, I make bold to state that on assumption of office in July 2014, the present dispensation of the FRSC had conceptualised, designed and implemented various public education programmes which cut across language, cultural and religious barriers.
These initiatives were necessitated by the attitudinal syndrome which borders on the recalcitrant nature of the average Nigerian driver with the penchant to disobey traffic rules and regulations.
In this connection, the Federal Road Safety Corps deliberately structured its Public Education machinery into a Corps Office at the national headquarters which reports directly to the Corps Marshal. The Public Education Office has also been structured to deepen the process of public enlightenment campaigns through the establishment of Zonal Public Education Offices, Sector Public Education Offices and Unit Public Education Offices thus ensuring a grass root-oriented approach to public education.
JUSTIFICATION FOR PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT
According to Victoria Road Safety Education Action plan, Australia, 2012-2013, public enlightenment on road safety plays a vital role in the attitude and disposition of road users to traffic rules and regulations:
- Shaping/restructuring the attitude of road users
- Influencing the minds of motorists positively
- Ensuring the development and sustenance of a responsible driving populace
- Impacting appropriate road safety norms in drivers, pedestrians, children, youths, cyclists, etc
- Preservation of lives and property
- Enthroning safer road culture through sustained public engagement
- Building a new generation of safety compliant drivers and pedestrians
TOOLS/MEDIA OF PUBLIC EDUCATION
Realising that public enlightenment entails the design, planning and execution of safety ideals among road users, the FRSC has invested massively towards robust public enlightenment projects through the following platforms:
- Radio – Talk shows, sponsored programmes, routine interviews, etc
- Television – Documentaries, production and airing of television commercials on appropriate road safety conduct, etc
- Out-door (Bill boards) – Collaboration with various stakeholders to erect safety billboards to complement public awareness campaigns
- Motor Parks – Partnership with various transport unions
- Publications (highway code, journals, etc) – Aside from the Nigerian Highway code which has been translated in various languages, the FRSC also undertakes publication of various journals as part of measures to further conscientise road users on road safety consciousness
- Social Media and ICT platforms: The FRSC has maintained its leading position as a public institution with the most robust base for use of technology in Nigeria. This was further justified in 2015 when it carted away two distinctive awards (Nigeria Technology Awards) in Lagos. The Corps has scaled up its application of digital processes in its daily operations and administrative function hence its massive investment on social media such as the Facebook with over 290,247 likes (followers), Twitter with 203,000 followers, Instagram with 2,626 and other social media platforms.
The FRSC has further developed the 6 Es in its drive to achieve set goals on public enlightenment:
VEHICLES OF PUBLIC EDUCATION: The FRSC also adopts the following vehicles to further complement its efforts to achieve set goals on public education:
- Motor park rallies
- Drama (during rallies)
- Motorized (carnival)
- Domesticated public enlightenment (specially structured for special audience)
- Routine operations (engage offenders during operational activities)
- Road safety clubs
- Special Marshals
FRSC AND MEDIA RELATIONS
According to the Oxford Advance Learner Dictionary media refers to “the main ways that large numbers of people receive information”. This sector is generally referred to as the ‘fourth estate of the realm’ because globally, it serves as the watchdog of the society and catalyst to propagate the enlightenment process. Leveraging on his media experience, the Corps Marshal has remained steadfast in his management’s disposition to robust media partnership.
This explains why the Corps has initiated and executed various media-related projects in the last 3 years. These media engagements include quarterly advocacy visits to select media organisations as part of strategies to foster stronger ties with Nigerian Press.
Under his watch, the Corps has organised special retreat/seminar deliberately designed to acquaint the media with the workings and policy inclinations of the FRSC in order to facilitate media reports bordering on road safety matters.
One other quick win for the Corps Marshal is the institution of a robust media monitoring platform with specialists in Mass Communication, Public Relations, English Language and other related disciplines to ensure daily monitoring of various media platforms including the social media to track and analyse news items, documentaries and other publications on FRSC to effectively put the Corps in a better position to manage issues emanating from the media and also position the Corps to properly manage its corporate partnership with the Nigerian media.
It is also interesting to note that the Corps Marshal is favourably disposed to consistent capacity building of staff and this informs his endorsement for annual workshop for all Public Enlightenment Officers of the Corps, nationwide.
It is envisioned that these training programmes will equip the Corps’ operatives with required skills to be at par with their contemporaries in other government agencies.
Beyond the media relations, under the present dispensation, almost all the staff in the Public Enlightenment Office, are affiliated with professional institutions such as the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Advertisers Practitioners of Nigeria and the Nigerian Union of Journalists.
In his words “The FRSC is passionate about professionalism and as a public-facing law enforcement agency whose functions cut across wider perspective, the need to equip our operatives to deliver job functions in line with contemporary global trends, cannot be over emphasised”. At this juncture, I wish to add that the Corps Marshal is not only an avid reader but also a prolific writer of sort.
His undiluted passion for hard work and dedication to duties has no doubt, impacted positively on staff working directly with him including myself who earnestly look forward to his briefs, articulate illustrations, energetic work attitude and result-driven approach to issues.
The Corps Marshal is also a mentor and administrative icon who will only look out for measurable results and effective job delivery whenever he gives you a brief and will always put his trust on you thus re-echoing the words of John Akers “Set your expectations high, find men and women whose integrity and values you respect, get their agreement on a course of action and give them your ultimate trust”.
At this juncture, I wish to state that after many years of closer working relationship with the FRSC Corps Marshal and taking stock of the bold steps he has taken to reposition the Federal Road Safety Corps, I can reiterate with confident, a popular American proverb “There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those that watch things happen and those who don’t know when things happen”. Our Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, definitely belong to the first category because through his sterling leadership drive and supervisory excellence, numerous positives have been the lot of the Corps.