NIGERIANS from all a walks of life have commended the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, for its efforts in reducing road traffic accident rates across the country, and also called for adequate funding of the agency. At an event to mark its 30th anniversary at the Nigerian Airforce Conference Centre, Abuja, highly placed Nigerians lauded the agency for painting the country positively before the global community.
There were goodwill messages from present and past Nigerian leaders, including General Ibrahim Babangida (retd), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, Speaker of House of Representatives, Senate President, ex-governors and senators among others.
In his goodwill message, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted that prior to the establishment of FRSC, Nigeria had a worrisome history of road carnage to the extent that at a time, the World Bank declared Nigeria as the worst country on earth only after Ethopia in which to drive a motor vehicle.
“Today, I am proud to observe that this ugly trend has been successful reversed through the personal sacrifice, dedication and commitment of our regular staff and indefatigable volunteers.”
He added that over the course of 30 years, the corps have achieved a progressive reduction in road traffic crash statistics across the country.
The vice oresident noted that this feat has been notice by other countries in Africa to the extent that countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia are currently enjoying technical support from FRSC. “The FRSC has also demonstrated a culture of continuous innovation in keeping not only with its mandate to make our road safer, but also the changing times,”he said.
One example of such is the successful transformation of the Nigeria driver licence and vehicle number plate systems. These and other reform initiatives have earned the FRSC endorsement by the World Bank as the best example of a lead agency in road safety management in Africa and a model for other developing countries.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Turkur Buratai, commended the FRSC for the good job they are doing and tasked the military and paramilitary to support the FRSC in the fight to reduce road accident rate in the country.
Buratai who said he was lucky to have lived after an involvement in a road accident in the 1970’s as a small boy, noted, “My first lesson on road safety was in the 70s.
“I was with my mother who would do anything to defend us, her children. We were trying to cross the road and there was a bike coming on high speed. Instead of waiting like my other siblings as my mother instructed, I dashed into the road, with the hope that if I was knocked down, my mother would fight the rider. I was knocked down but unfortunately my mother didn’t do anything. She knew it was my fault.” With the lesson, he realised how cautious one needed to be when it comes to safety on the road.
He further said, “Ï insist all my men must have their drivers licence and revealed that he once sacked a domestic staff for challenging road safety officials on the road.” He explained that the FRSC was created at a time the traffic situation was very bad but with the hard work of the staff the situation had changed .
“In three decades after the creation of FRSC accident rate has reduced, he said and commended the FRSC for reducing response time from 50 minutes to 15 minutes but noted that more work needed to be done. He challenged them on provision of road signs and markings and advised construction workers to always give adequate warnings on the highways while carrying out their duties.
In his remark, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh recalled how he became a Special Marshal when FRSC was created. He warned passengers to always use seatbelts, especially those occupying the rear seat in sport utility vehicles.
He also urged FRSC to do something about articulated vehicles by insisting they must carry reflective stickers on their rear.