News Column

Dawn of New Era At FRSC

July 30, 2014

Chibuzor Emejor

It was an emotion- filled moment last week at the headquarters of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), when officers and

marshals of the agency sent forth their immediate past Corps Marshall and Chief Executive (COMACE), Osita Chidoka in a colourful farewell parade.

The parade was organised in honour of Chidoka who has assumed office as the new Minister of Aviation. Chidoka had served as the FRSC boss for over seven years before he was recently appointed as a cabinet member in the Federal Executive Council of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Osita Benjamin Chidoka was appointed as the COMACE of FRSC in June 11, 2007 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the age of 36. He had from then spear-headed various initiatives aimed at transforming the Corps as a lead agency in road traffic administration and safety management in Nigeria.

For instance, under his leadership, the FRSC won the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in December 2008; the National Productivity Order of Merit Award of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in October, 2010 and the Quality Management System Certification (ISO9001:2008) in March 2013. According to Chidoka, with these feats, "FRSC has become the first law enforcement agency in Africa and the fourth in the world to be so certified."

The World Bank has also rated FRSC as a model Lead Agency in Road Safety Management. In this regard, the World Bank assistance on the Safe Corridor Project to the country was attracted by the Corps, which led to the Country Capacity Review Training Needs Assessment, provision of patrol vehicles, ambulances and tow trucks sponsored by the Bank with immense benefits to Nigeria in its road safety campaigns.

It would be recalled that before his appointment in 2004, Nigeria had been adjudged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the worst country to drive, next only to Ethiopia. However, this ugly situation has remarkably improved as a result of stint of hard work and commitment of the leadership and personnel of FRSC.

On Chidoka's assumption of office, the FRSC had the staff strength of 11,000 which has increased to about 20,000. The Corps patrol vehicles have also increased from 170 vehicles in 2007 to 800 in 2014, from 17 ambulances to 52 ambulances. To ensure the operational efficiency of the Corps, 191 Unit Commands, 37 Sector Commands, 12 Zonal Commands, and four Out Posts Stations were established under Chidoka's leadership.

This development according to reports has "brought a visible impact of 15 per cent reduction in fatalities on the roads from 2007 to 2009 and 28 per cent in 2010."

In his valedictory speech, the former FRSC boss said, "In making our road safe, FRSC in 2010 rescued 15,875 people alive. In 2011, it rescued 43,875 people alive and 71,504 were rescued alive in 2013. In 2014, FRSC has rescued a total of 33,269 road traffic victims as of July, who probably might have perished, if there was no FRSC."

It is no longer news that the world has become a global village as a result of the deployment of Information and Communication Technology. The FRSC in the last seven has deployed ICT to drive its activities and operations.

Speaking on the rationale for ICT utilization, he said "Our heavy reliance on technology to drive operations is also informed by our strategic master plan which foresees FRSC as prepared to remain relevant when the vehicle of the future becomes driverless, installation of crash avoidance technology and production of cars that will not move when components fail or malfunction. Today, the corps relies on technology, which facilitates and enables its processes.

"This is the FRSC I am leaving behind, well positioned to face the future. I am leaving an FRSC that is primed for the future that is ISO certified, process-driven and evidence-based, with staff that is well motivated and ready to face the future that is bright. I make bold to say that the FRSC I am leaving behind has the best trained officers with excellent academic and professional trainings. To continue the trajectory of training offenders, the FRSC Academy was commissioned to provide the infrastructure for continuous staff development."

He added that "FRSC has within the last seven years become a world class organisation with documented process that is rule-driven and anchored on evidence."

Obviously, Chidoka has left an impression on the FRSC as Assistant Corps Marshal, Nseobong Charles Akpabio, said the former COMACE was a mentor to all the staff, particularly those whom he has discovered their talents.

According to Akpabio, who is the Zonal Commanding Officer, Zone 5, "Osita Chidoka is our mentor. He came to the Commission with a lot of ideas. And with his drive to transform FRSC, I can say that the out-going Corps Marshal has impacted positively both intellectually and in the capacity building of staff. The innovation he brought has assisted us to move the Corps to the level we are today. I am sure that his successor will build on the foundation he has laid. Not just a foundation, but what is on the ground. He is a man that every man must study, because tomorrow is bigger than today."

In the words of the Deputy Corps Public Education Officer, Corps Commander Bisi Kazeem, "Chidoka has the dossier of every of his staff. He monitors you from everywhere. Once he identifies an inert talent in you, he draws you closer and makes sure that such talent is developed. He also introduced fairness into the Corps. Promotional exams are done transparently. Definitely we are going to miss him.

"I expect his successor to build on what Chidoka has achieved. Already, FRSC is a world class organization; we want to sustain this feat."

In his submission, one of the aides to the former FRSC boss, Osondu Ohaeri, said the ex- Corps Marshal had introduced cutting edge initiatives based on the people, process and technology.

Ohaeri described Chidoka as "a patriot, young dynamic leader, a mentor, an accomplished administrator who has brought uncommon transformation to road safety management in Nigeria."

According to him, the former COMACE is "an icon whose stewardship earned FRSC the status of a global brand, noting that He was a role model on generational shift on leadership, excellence and dedication."

It is often said that it is people who give their lives to events that events later give their names place in history. Undoubtedly, to many observers, Chidoka has carved a niche in the Corps. Apart from being the FRSC helms man, Chidoka was until his appointment as the Minister of Aviation, the President of the West African Road Safety Organisation (WARSO) and President, Africa Group, International Road Safety Organisation(GPA-PRI).

In this instance, as a result of building a reliable offenders register and data base of drivers and vehicles in the country, the ECOWAS adopted Nigeria's model in the planned Regional Vehicle Administration Information System (RVAIS) by the West African countries.

Because of the track records of achievements of the FRSC, the Sierra Leonean government has recently invited FRSC to set up their own National Road Safety Commission in their country and Ghana is about to sign Memorandum of Understanding for the domestication of FRSC capacity building in the country.

In the parting words of Chidoka, "I feel humbled and overwhelmed by the honour of this farewell parade, and the privilege of saying good bye to the organisation that I have come to love and also spent an exciting period of my public service in leading.

"It gives me emotional feeling having to say good bye to all the committed and dedicated officers and marshals that I have worked with in the past seven years.

It is hoped that the new Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, would build, improve and sustain the legacies of the out-gone COMACE. It is quite re-assuring that Oyeyemi had promised while addressing newsmen shortly after President Jonathan appointed him that he would sustain the tempo.

He said although it was too early to unveil his agenda for the Corps, he would work hard to build on the foundation already laid by his predecessor, Chidoka.

To quote him, "The foundation has been laid. We shall continue the transformation of the FRSC. We shall not fail Nigerians. "We already have a foundation that we will build on. We will improve on it. It is too early now. But we will do our best."

The new Corps Marshal also read a riot act to reckless drivers across the country, warning that tougher sanctions await them. He identified attitude of the Nigerian motoring public as the bane towards safer roads in the country and pledged that the FRSC will harness its potentials to ensure strict enforcement of traffic rules and regulations.

Observers have called on the new FRSC boss to work assiduously in reducing the carnage on our roads. In 2013 alone, Nigeria lost about N1.7trillion, which is an equivalent of $10billion dollars to road carnage. As of July 2014, about 3,320 people have perished in road crashes across the country, according the report of the former COMACE, Osita Chidoka.

The incessant traffic gridlocks across the states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja need the concerted efforts of the FRSC together with other sister agencies to address. With all these, the FRSC would continue to soar higher.

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Source: AllAfrica

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