By Assistant Corps Marshal Bisi Kazeem, fsi.
When the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) was established by the military administration in Nigeria on 18 February 1988 in response to the menace of road traffic crashes, one of the cardinal strategies adopted by the founding fathers and enshrined in the enabling law was the use of public enlightenment tools as instruments for creating the desired changes and achieving the goal of a safer road environment. The idea was to complement the civil approach which the Corps sees as its value and upon which it has been relying to patrol the wide network of road since its establishment.
The pioneer Chairman of the FRSC Board, Professor Wole Soyinka saw road safety campaign as an inevitable activity that must be undertaken to keep the roads safer. He described FRSC as, “a preventive medicine.” He also saw road safety campaign as a shared responsibility which no single person or organisation can handle while maintaining the superiority of civility over coercion.
According to him, “motorists obey the Marshals not out of fear of the rifles they carry, but the believe in the rightness of their actions.” To him, when motorists obey traffic rules and regulations out of the enlightenment and realisation that their actions and inactions could determine how safe or unsafe the road could be, they would be persuaded to drive with care to achieve the goals of safety even without the presence of law enforcement officers.
To achieve these novel ideas of changing people’s attitude without necessarily relying on coercive instruments but on the powers of education and enlightenment, FRSC’s operational activities have continued to revolve around how to harmonise public enlightenment programmes with enforcement strategies. And the successes recorded from embracing these ideals as evidenced by the trending down of the rates of crashes and deaths have been inspiring.
In its incremental approach to issues of civility, FRSC continues to engage motorists and members of the public in initiating and enforcing road safety rules and regulations towards ensuring a safer road environment. Thus, how to make the Corps to achieve its goals of creating safer roads through the use of public enlightenment and enforcement strategies has always been the challenges facing the successive Management of the Corps.
The current Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, inherited the challenge which he has been managing since the last seven years of his administration. The outcome of his unrelenting search for a veritable medium to communicate road safety ideals and obtain feedbacks that could meet the shared nature of road safety campaign is the initiative of the National Traffic Radio, 107.1fm which was inaugurated by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo on 15 June, 2021.
The conception of the National Traffic Radio by the FRSC Management under Corps Marshal Oyeyemi was a fallout of his growing desire to broaden the scope of public enlightenment, enhance the existing sensitisation programmes, ensure continuous education of the motoring public on safe road use and, promotion of better road culture. These measures, according to him, are expected to change the behavioural pattern of all categories of road users, and give real-time traffic updates to the travellers.
It was also out of the realisation that all over the world, Radio being a critical medium for reaching out to a mass audience, has been used extensively as a tool for national integration, community development, promotion of policies and programmes of the government, and creating general awareness on wide range of life saving issues. To this end, the Oyeyemi-led Management first conceived the idea of the station on 14 January 2016, when …