By DAVID OFURUM
WHEN Mr. Mike Omeri took over the reins of leadership at the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on January 17, 2012, he made it very clear that one of his primary concerns or vision was “to transform the Agency along with its various units and organs into a proactive, knowledge based and activity driven organisation, able to rise up to evolving challenges in our national space”. Eleven months down the line, Nigerians continue to testify to the fact that the Agency under his watch has kept faith with this thrust.
It is not a surprise that, as many put it; the NOA has taken over the country and is daily in the news, sensitising the public on acceptable conducts as well as on government policies. With the NOA today, everything and indeed, anything is an opportunity to address the public on topical issues, whether it bothers on electricity tariff, proposed new naira denomination or the disposal of pure water sachets. The activities built around each topic of re-orientation concern and the personalities they collaborate with to drive home the message are such that leave the message indelible in the minds of Nigerians.
Recently, the Agency Headquarter crew was in Ondo State for a series of events and the story was not different. At one of such events, the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko commended the prompt and proactive response of President Goodluck Jonathan to the recent flooding across the nation by providing reliefs, granting access to the nation’s strategic grains reserves and mobilising the private sector to come to the aid of the victims, describing the emergency measures as unprecedented.
He gave his commendation while flagging off the nationwide road safety campaign of the National Orientation Agency tagged “Do the Right Thing: Drive to Stay Alive” in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) at the Akure Ultra-Modern Motor Park, Ondo State Governor Mimiko observed that “Nigerians need to learn how to celebrate what is good. Nigeria is not all about corruption and Boko Haram. If the President does something that is good, let us talk about it and celebrate him”. He ranked the Federal Government’s response to the recent floods far higher than that of the United States Government to the hurricane Catherina and the recent hurricane Sandy disasters in New Orleans and New York respectively. He said President Jonathan deserves all commendation for doing what the government of developed countries could not do for their countries and thereby mitigating the effects of the floods.
Governor Mimiko commended the “Do the Right Thing” campaign and pledged to do everything possible to engrave the concept of the campaign in the consciousness of the people of the State. He observed the high rate of 162 deaths in 100,000 accidents, the second highest in the world was very alarming and called for a change in the attitudes of Nigerian road users.
The Governor condemned the sale of cigarettes, alcohol and hard substances in and around motor parks across the country, stressing that such create necessary environment for the facilitation of accidents as drivers are exposed to the influence of such substances. He however announced that the state had procured state of the art extrication equipment, ambulances and toll free numbers to enable the State’s emergency agencies respond to road accidents and other emergencies in a maximum of twenty minutes from the time of their occurrence.
In his address at the flag-off, NOA Director General said the choice of Ondo State for the launch of the campaign was in recognition of the giant efforts of the State Government in the transport sector. He regretted that road accidents has assumed prime position as the primary cause of death in the country and urged Nigerians to do the right thing on the highways by obeying all traffic regulations, especially during this yuletide. Mr. Omeri also reminded law enforcement officers that there is no law backing their harassment of law abiding citizen on the highway and charged all officers involved in such practice to desist.
The Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Mr. Osita Chidoka, represented by the South West Zonal Commander of the Corps, Assistant Corps Marshal Luka Sambo Kinnya admonished road users to take note of the road conditions and apply common sense speed limits when using the roads as most roads are under construction. He also appealed to State Governors to assist the Corps in establishing more out posts as well as providing equipment to enable the Corps respond more speedily to any road emergencies that may arise during the yuletide.
The Ondo State Commissioner of Police, represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Henry Fadairo in a goodwill message commended the partnership between the NOA and FRSC which he said would go a long way to save lives and reduce road accidents against the background of increase in accidents and accident related deaths in the State between 2011 and 2012. The Secretary General of the NURTW, Comrade Joel Kolawole in his own message, however, pledged the commitment of the Union to ensuring its members complied with traffic regulations in the yuletide to minimise road hazards in the State and its environs.
*Mr. Ofurum, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.