Meanwhile, to keep those already seated enlightened about road safety activities prior to the main lecture, some documentaries on the FRSC activities were handed to the technical crew to play while other participants were trickling in. To our greatest surprise, within minutes, anxious students had come in droves and occupied all the available seats and waiting excitedly to welcome and listen to the number One Road Marshal in Nigeria.
Aside being a well-known operational personality with robust background in road safety management, the Corps Marshal as the guest lecturer is also an intellectual with a Doctorate Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Thus by the time he was ushered into the hall by the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Iyiola Oni, everyone that mattered in the university community had taken their seats. As the Master of Ceremony (MC) announced his arrival, he commanded all to remain standing, saying “It is not all the time that one gets opportunity to meet a Corps Marshal on this type of assignment.”
Among those already seated were the representative of the Vice Chancellor, who is the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics and Research, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe; Deans of Faculties; Sub-deans, Professors, Heads of Departments of different departments that make up the Faculty; students, members of transport unions operating within the university environment and host of others including the traditional ruler of Akoka community, Baale of Isale Akoka. With the introduction of personalities over, it was time for the master of ceremony to introduce the quest lecturer, which he did by recounting his experiences in the operational and administrative areas of the Corps with his intellectual attainment, concluding that he is the first officer of the FRSC to be appointed from within the serving officers to head the Corps.
According to him, Oyeyemi made history when on 23 July, 2014 he was appointed as the Corps Marshal to head the FRSC based on his demonstrable leadership qualities. He noted that the Corps Marshal recorded consistent excellent performances in the FRSC by emerging as the best performing Head of Department in the different departments he headed from 2009 to 2013. The master of ceremony further recalled that Oyeyemi attended strategic leadership courses at the Harvard University and School of Government; Royal Institute for Public Administration (RIPA) London, and graduated from Nigeria’s highest policy institution, the National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). “He obtained his Doctorate Degree (Ph.D) in Public Administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He had also attended the Police Training Division, Sufferm, New York and Shot Gun Instructors Course, NY, USA,” he stated.
“A member of several Nigerian and International Professional Associations, including the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria, Institute of Corporate Administration of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, London. He has three publications on road safety administration and numerous unpublished works credit,” he added.
When he got to the point where he stated that Oyeyemi was conferred with the prestigious awards of National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPoM); Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) and Member, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (Mni) as a course participant in the prestigious institution, the applause that followed was thunderous. Thus by the time the Corps Marshal mounted the podium to deliver his lecture, all eyes were directly fixed at him.
In the lecture entitled, “Evolving a Safer Road Culture in Nigeria,” the Corps Marshal took the participants to where Nigeria was in road traffic crash index before the establishment of the FRSC; what the Corps has been doing over the years and how its activities have trended down the rate of road traffic crashes in the country to the present. He paid glowing tributes to the Nigerian government for establishing the FRSC as the lead agency for road safety management and administration at the time the concept was yet to attract global attention.
While expressing concern with the rate at which youths continue to be at the receiving in cases of road traffic crashes in the country, he disclosed that the number of youth casualties who die or get injured yearly from road traffic crashes is worrisome, saying it is imperative that they take issues of road safety seriousness. “The alarming proportion of youth who suffer from the menace of road traffic crashes either as direct victims or those rendered helpless due to death or incapacitation of their parents makes it imperative that institutions of learning like the University join the FRSC to find lasting solutions to the menace,” he stated.
Oyeyemi however expressed the commitment of the FRSC to tackling the menace, recalling some of the policy measures put in place and commended the youths for their active role in road safety campaigns as evidenced by the growing number of road safety clubs in schools, colleges and at NYSC levels. While commending the Federal Government for its moral and logistics support for the FRSC, the Corps Marshal expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buahri for the support, saying the recent endorsement of the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy document as well as the procurement of 283 patrol and rescue vehicles for the Corps demonstrate his concern for safety of road users in the country.
The Corps Marshal called for support of all Nigerians and particularly the partnership of the Nigerian Universities in the efforts to tackle the menace of road traffic crashes, assuring that FRSC will remain focused on creating safer road environments through evolving a safer road culture in Nigeria. In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Rahmoni A Bello stated that the lecture was part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of the University towards creation of road safety consciousness among students and members of the University community. He commended FRSC for its consistent campaign against road carnage and expressed the readiness of the institution to sustain its partnership initiative with the Corps for massive enlightenment of the people.
In his welcome address, Professor Iyiola Oni recalled the historical collaboration existing between the FRSC and the University, noting that the lecture was deliberately organised to build the bridge between the gown and the community in the determination to raise people’s consciousness on matters of road safety. He thanked the Corps Marshal for honouring the invitation and assured that the existing relationship between the Faculty and the FRSC will be sustained. The Chairman of the Occasion who is the Managing Director of the Leadway Insurance, represented by Mrs Olubumi Asha was full of commendation to the FRSC for its road safety campaigns. He expressed optimism that with the growing awareness on road safety especially among the youths, the nation’s roads would soon witness tremendous change in safer road culture.
As the lecture came to conclusion and students were reluctantly leaving the hall, the interest, excitement and satisfaction clearly written on their faces were symptomatic of how the guest lecturer was able to educate them on issues of road safety and the acceptance of their active role in road safety campaigns. The encouraging scenario witnessed at the University clearly reaffirmed the importance of FRSC’s choice of Education as a strategic instrument for attitudinal change and the strength of the strategy of “catching them young,” which has proved successful among the Nigerian youths.
As Corps Marshal Oyeyemi would always say in matters of effective road traffic management in Nigeria, “if the FRSC succeeds in its campaigns in Lagos, it would be a walkover in other states.” We can confidently add from what we saw at the Lagos lecture, that the success of the road safety campaign at the University of Lagos would surely trickle down to other universities and road safety campaign would generally be a success in the entire Nigeria.
Abdullahi, Superintendent Route Commander is the Media Assistant to the Corps Marshal and was in the entourage to the university.