Exactly three years ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria appointed the then Head of Motor Vehicle Administration of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Olayemi Oyeyemi to head the nation’s road safety lead agency. The choice of this hardworking, committed and dogged Nigerian was not by accident, but a reaffirmation that FRSC had come of age and gotten to a level where a capable insider could be trusted with the responsibility of taking the Corps to greater heights.
Oyeyemi who was one of the pioneer officers of the Corps had prior to the appointment distinguished himself as one that was prepared for leadership challenges, having exhibited excellence in all his assignments as Zonal Commanding Officer and Head of the departments he supervised. His appointment was therefore, aimed at sustaining the ideals of road safety lead agency model, which Nigeria pioneered in Africa in 1988 with the establishment of the FRSC by the Federal Government.
As some analysts rightly observed recently, after his three years of hard work, determination and focused leadership to sustain the goodwill earned by the Corps over the years, the consensus among government officials, majority of road safety stakeholders and staff of the Corps is that, there couldn’t have been a better choice. This they insisted was due to the fact that as someone who witnessed the beginning of the Corps and participated actively in its growth and development over the years, he was eminently qualified to take up the leadership challenges of the Corps.
And looking back into the three years of his stewardship, their conclusion was that, by his focused leadership styles, commitment to service delivery and determination to succeed, the confidence reposed in him by the government was not misplaced
Setting the stage for what he described as “the new dawn in the FRSC,” Oyeyemi addressed the enthusiastic staff of the Corps in his maiden parade, after his decoration, assuring them that he was prepared for the tasks ahead. According to him, the main thrusts of his Management agenda were Consultation, Reward and Punishment (CRP) which were to holistically address the challenges of restoration and sustenance of public confidence in the Corps. “While we would consult widely for inputs from staff at all levels and relevant stakeholders into our policies and programmes for incremental results, we would promptly reward excellent performances and not hesitate to punish those staff that remain undisciplined and tended towards indolence,” he stated.,
To this end, he commenced his tour of the FRSC Commands across the country to take his message of reform agenda to the staff and relevant stakeholders in the states including the Governors and traditional rulers. So far, he had undertaken tour of unprecedented number of Commands across the country comparable to any such endeavours before him. And wherever he went, he created time to interact with staff and principal officers in a town hall meeting fashion, devoid of strict official protocol to allow for free expression of views bys the staff.
Noticeably, some of such visits had attracted high emotions and jubilation from among the host staff, most of who exhibited strong feelings of elation. As the scenario in Tsafe Unit Command in Zamfara state last year indicated, the staff were so emotional about the visit that the Unit Commander literary shed tears while welcoming the Corps Marshal, saying he was overwhelmed by the experience of being the first Unit Commander of the Command to ever have the privilege of hosting a visiting Corps Marshal.
According to him, when he was earlier assured by the Corps Marshal during the Commanding Officers’ Retreat earlier held at the FRSC Academy Udi that he would soon visit his Command as part of his tour of the Northwest geopolitical zone of the country, he did not realise that the promise could be so soon fulfilled. “Today is a historic day for all of us in this Command as we are witnessing the first visit of a Corps Marshal to this unit since its creation,” he stated, while addressing the Corps Marshal before staff.
The Corps Marshal would use such visits to update the staff of the developments at the National Headquarters and got feedback that were used as inputs for subsequent policy formulation. Meanwhile, he has continued to honour invitations to meetings and programmes organised by stakeholders, where he would make presentations and deliver Goodwill messages as the case may be, in addition to the regular consultative forums organised by the Corps to constantly brief them on contemporary road safety challenges of the country.
As one that was well known for his rugged operational background, Oyeyemi would ensure that no policy on enforcement commences in the Corps without adequate involvement of the relevant stakeholders, to ensure their buying in. Such was the case with the enforcement of use of speed limiting device in commercial vehicles which took up to two years to commence enforcement after the initial deadline given by the FRSC. The same thing applies to the use of minimum safety standards and retraining/re-certification of articulated drivers which were outcomes of the National Conference on Safety of haulage operations in Nigeria organised by the FRSC in the aftermath of the tanker/trailer crash epidemics across the country in 2015.
Thus from the leaderships of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NUTW); Road Transport Owners Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and Petroleum Tanker Drivers Division of the National Union of Petroleum and Gas (NUPENG-PTD) and other strategic transport unions in the country, his message of collective action against the menace of road traffic crashes continued to reverberate. He ensures that relevant government agencies as well as private sector organisations concerned with issues of road safety are not left out in the Corps’ joint efforts to contain the menace of road traffic crashes.
As an observer noted recently, it did not surprise most discernible followers of the FRSC’s activities, when the National Economic Council (NEC) gave instant approval to the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy Document that had been pending and subsequent inauguration of the National Road Safety Advisory Council (NaRSAC) by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo early this year. Today, despite the overzealousness of some road users and members of the public who display acts of violence against members of the Corps, majority of Nigerians now see FRSC as a veritable partner in the campaign for safety of the nation’s roads and the success of road transport industry in the country.
In the push for his reward mantra, FRSC Management under Oyeyemi’s leadership has in the past three years evolved policies and programmes aimed at engaging staff in the activities capable of enhancing their productivity and improved service delivery. Consequently, no year has passed since the past three years without a promotion exercise taking place in the Corps to reward hard working and committed staff and boost their morale. “In our commitment to addressing issues of backlog of promotion, Management has resolved that yearly promotion exercise shall henceforth be held in the Corps,” he assured staff on regular promotion exercise.
Furthermore, FRSC Management under him has, in the past three years continued to evolve policies aimed at addressing fear of career stagnation by some staff of the Corps. Thus apart from removing the barriers that limit the prospects of career growth for certain category of officers, the FRSC Management recently removed the obstacles against the convertibility of qualified personnel on the rank of Road Marshals Assistant to Officers Cadre. In the same vein, convertible year for personnel with requisite educational qualifications has been extended and more is being done to allow for greater number of beneficiaries.
On staff capacity development, the Corps Marshal has entered into partnership agreements with relevant institutions with a view to creating training opportunities for staff of all cadres at home and abroad as is being done today by the World Bank. In addition, the Corps’ quota at the Military and Security institutions in the country including that of the National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, Jos and National Defence College for the senior officers of the Corps continue to be expanded to provide more opportunities for senior officers.
Concerned with the plight which most staff who retire without safety nets suffer after their service years, Oyeyemi-led Management promptly implemented policies on Post Service Scheme (PSS) and staff Housing Scheme to provide opportunity of house ownership to staff while still in service. In the same vein, FRSC Cooperative Scheme has been strengthened to provide easy access to loanable funds for staff in need. Furthermore, Management has adopted measures to incorporate FRSC Housing Scheme to the Federal Government Integrated Housing Scheme (FISH), which is a programme of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to create opportunity of house ownership for federal civil servants service-wide.
In the area of improved service delivery, the reform minded Corps Marshal has put in place concrete policies and measures that could sustain the world class status of the FRSC and its adherence to global best practice in road safety management. For instance, under him, the coveted Quality Management System Certification (ISO 9001:2008) which the FRSC earned in 2013 was revalidated last year as a demonstration of the sustainability of the policy. Meanwhile, the process for obtaining services from the FRSC, such as procedures for obtaining the driver’s licence and how to secure the services of the service providers in the speed limiting device policy have been published to enlighten members of the public. Accordingly, SERVICOM and Anti-corruption Unit of the FRSC established to tackle complaints against poor service delivery by members of the public have been strengthened to make them more responsive to public demands.
There is no wonder the consensus of some analysts who reviewed the last three years of the FRSC under Oyeyemi Management recently, were that it has been work and more work since the past three years despite the social and economic challenges facing the nation under which the FRSC operates. But as they further agreed, the consolation is that, the Federal Government has remained supportive of the Corps’ programmes through provision of logistics and morale supports to the organisation. For instance, they observed that despite the hard economic situation facing the country, President Buhari graciously approved the provision of over 280 patrol vehicles, tow trucks and ambulances boost the operational fleet of the Corps last year.
In addition, they contended that there have been various legislative supports from the National Assembly to demonstrate members’ solidarity with the workings of the FRSC through appropriate legislations, Motions and public hearings to make the nation’s traffic environment more conducive and safe for members of the motoring public.
As Corps Marshal Oyeyemi marks his third years in office and refocus on the successes of his past reform programmes, it is the consensus of majority of road safety stakeholders and road users alike that going forward, emphases should be on consolidating the gains of the past initiatives. This according to them will facilitate the alignment of the FRSC’s strategic corporate goals with the national agenda aimed at launching Nigeria to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world with the safest roads by 2020. The Corps Marshal re-echoed the optimism himself, while addressing Commanding Officers at the last Management Strategy Session, that ensuing safer road environment in Nigeria is a shared responsibility which involves all citizens and stakeholders in public and private sectors for harmonious work that could keep the nation’s roads safer.
Congratulations to all members of the FRSC Management and staff on the successes of the third anniversary celebration of an internal leadership sourced from within the Officers of the FRSC.
Superintendent Route Commander Sani Abdullahi is the Media Assistant to the Corps Marshal of FRSC