This FRSC Is Drifting (1), By Dele Agekameh

There is the need for the leadership of the FRSC under Oyeyemi to exhibit zero tolerance for indiscipline and other bad behaviours that have crept into the system. That is, if the organisation is to maintain the sort of sanity, trust and respect for which it has been known since inception.

That most Nigerian roads are in a deplorable state is no longer news. Everyday there are chilling stories of accidents on these roads. The cost to the economy and the toll it takes on lives and property can only be imagined. It is for this reason that the Federal Government set up the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).


The many not-too-palatable stories about the bad state of Nigerian roads have become very frightening to most road users. Long ago, I made it a point of duty to always go by air to any place where there is an airport or at least, where an airport is nearby, as I always try to avoid travelling on the death traps that our highways have become. Last Thursday, November 24, 2016, however, I had to break this rule to meet up a long pending appointment in Osogbo.


With the stories about the gridlocks on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in recent times, I set out as early as 5.30am on the journey to the capital of the State of Osun, which is how the incumbent governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has rechristened the former Osun State since he came to power exactly six years ago. I made it that early in order to avoid the usual early morning rush on Lagos roads, as one traverses the city on the way towards the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. At the exit point underneath the Otedola Bridge, close to Alausa, the seat of the Lagos State government, I noticed that the whole place had become well illuminated, with lights radiating everywhere as if it was afternoon. And then there was the usual police presence with their patrol vehicle conspicuously positioned by the road. In the past, that spot was a terrible place to pass through in the dead of the night as commuters were prone to attacks by dare-devil criminals operating under the cover of darkness.


By the time we entered the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, one could notice that there were so many cars already on the road at that particular time of the day. The journey was smooth until we passed the Berger area which was also wearing a new look with the pedestrian bridge, as well as the expansion of the shoulders of the road to accommodate vehicles, particularly the commercial vehicles that were hitherto notorious for picking and dropping off passengers anyhow along the road. The usual traffic snarl associated with this indiscriminate dropping and picking of passengers has now become a thing of the past.


As we approached the ‘Long Bridge,’ looking ahead, I noticed that traffic had started building up on the road. From that point, it took us more than an hour to wade through to much easy flowing traffic. Those who were not patient enough had to move to the left lane where they faced on-coming vehicles in a fight for space. The whole thing was chaotic as there were no security agent present on the road at that time. This snail-speed continued again shortly before the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Camp, all the way to the Sagamu interchange. From then on, there was a little breathing space on the drive towards Ibadan, except that at the point after Ogere, the road was extremely bad with potholes and irregular surface all over.


We managed to reach Ibadan after a gruesome journey that lasted almost three hours from Lagos. And don’t ask me how the journey from the Ibadan end of the toll gate to Iwo Road felt like. The whole place was a mess. Added to this is the fact that the city, at least, around the places we drove through towards Iwo Road, was dirty, filthy, unkempt and stinking. It was as if there was no government or governor in the place as the city maintains its unenviable record of one of the dirtiest cities in Africa.


The road from Iwo Road to Gbongan was not any better. The Ikire-end of it was particularly bad as a greater part of the road had been encroached upon by erosion which had literally narrowed it down, while a sea of hawkers compete with motorists on the little available space. As we veered off from the Ibadan-Ife Road to Gbongan-Ode-Omu-Osogbo Road, we came face-to-face with another very bad portion of the road. I am aware that that particular area has been under permanent construction since Governor Aregbesola came to power six years ago. And it looks as if the road could be under construction for eternity. The good news is that while marking his sixth-year anniversary in office recently, the governor promised that all the projects he has embarked upon while in office will be completed before his exit from office in 2018. May God help him!


However, an appalling scene soon stared me in the face and I was shaken to my bone marrow. As we moved from Gbongan towards Osogbo, we ran into a patrol team of the Federal Road Safety Commission on a “stop and grab” operation by the side of the road. From what I saw, the corps members were engaged in an extortion-spree of commercial vehicles plying the road. While they look the other way when private vehicles approach, they were more interested in flagging down commercial vehicles. Some of the drivers, who obviously understood the game, just brought out their hands clutching one hundred naira notes as one of the officers stepped forward to swiftly collect the money and pretend as if nothing happened.

I was particularly irked because I had been involved in FRSC’s activities since the commission was established in February 1988. That was the time when two illustrious sons of Nigeria (or should I say two illustrious sons of Africa) – Professor Wole Soyinka and Dr. Olu Agunloye – were the pioneer Chairman and Corps Marshal and the Chief Executive, COMACE, respectively of the Commission. Both of them had zero tolerance for corruption, extortion and bribery of any kind whatsoever. I remember those days when the Commission had an intelligence unit that was responsible for tracking down officers whose conducts on the roads were less than satisfactory. It was through this unit that many bad eggs in the Commission were summarily weeded out of the system.


Boboye Oyeyemi, the current COMACE, who was then known as Yemi Oyeyemi, was the pioneer zonal commander of FRSC Zone 4, RS4, with headquarters in Lagos. At that time, there were about three senior officers bearing Yemi. There was Yemi Agoro and Yemi Omidiji, both of who have retired from service. Oyeyemi had had a good record of excellent conduct right from the time he joined the Commission shortly after his National Youth Service (NYSC) programme in 1987. He was known to be a strict disciplinarian, a quality that endeared him to both Soyinka and Agunloye. Everybody knew that Oyeyemi was Agunloye and Soyinka’s boy and he never let anyone down.


There is the need for the leadership of the FRSC under Oyeyemi to exhibit zero tolerance for indiscipline and other bad behaviours that have crept into the system. That is, if the organisation is to maintain the sort of sanity, trust and respect for which it has been known since inception. There is no doubt that some bad elements, who probably do not share in the vision and objectives of the body, have found their ways into the system. They must be weeded out before they rubbish the hard-earned reputation of the Commission. In the past, I heard people complain loudly about the bad treatment meted out to them on our roads by some unscrupulous officials of the Commission. I believe the time has now come for FRSC to do something to correct the anomalies in the system. This is a good organisation that should not be allowed to falter or waiver.

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