When former Corps Marshal Chidoka was asked by some reporters in Lagos in 2013, what legacy he hoped to leave behind in the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), his simple response was, “Human capital.” He unequivocally added that the human capital stuck in the FRSC was equal to be best in any organisation in the Country.
It was therefore not surprising to many when for the first time in the history of the FRSC, the Federal Government decided to look inward to pick a serving officer to succeed him. The appointment of Dr Boboye Olayemi Oyeyemi on 23rd July 2014 to head the FRSC, exactly two years ago was not a mistake. It was rather a clear expression of confidence in his leadership qualities and acknowledgement of the contributions made by the FRSC staff over the years to national development.
His coming has been described as a turning point in the history of the FRSC and has buoyed the possibility that serving officers can aspire to the highest office in the Corps. Born to the family of Reverend Michael Babalola of Odo Owa in Oke Local Government Area of Kwara state, Oyeyemi was there at the beginning when the FRSC was established 28 years ago and has been in the system where he headed all the departments and served in most strategic Zonal Commands of the Corps with distinct results.
A holder of Doctorate and Masters degrees in Public Administration from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and University of Lagos respectively, he obtained certificates in Strategic Management from Harvard University, USA and Royal Institute for Public Administration. He was a course participant at the prestigious National Institute for policy and strategic studies, Kuru- Jos and has distinguished himself in road safety administration. He attended several courses at home and abroad in world class security institutions including the Police Training Division, Suffern, New York; Glock Armourers and Fire Arms Course and Sleep Research Laboratory, Loughborough University, UK as well as Shotgun Instructors Course, New York, USA among others.
Oyeyemi earned the Best Performing Head of Department position for five consecutive years prior to his appointment into the exalted position as the Corps Marshal. Expectedly, when his appointment was announced, staff heaved sighs of relief for getting a worthy successor, who was deemed capable of moving the Corps to greater heights. As they enthusiastically put it, “if his appointment were a matter of election, no one could have defeated him.” Happily enough, he has not disappointed them, as his two years of leadership have proved to be action packed, focused and devoid of the usual bitterness. “No matter how anyone looks at FRSC in the last two years, the stability and policy continuity witnessed are unprecedented in the history of the organization,” some staff sated.
As a strong proponent of policy continuity, Oyeyemi has refused to abandon the policies and programmes he inherited from his predecessor towards building a world class organisation with global best practice in road safety management. His penchant for consensus building as a management tool is evidenced by his choice of Consultation, Reward and Punishment (CRP) as the principles that guide his Management. Thus he has continued to rely on consultation as a way of moving the FRSC to greater heights. That is why relevant stakeholders in road safety have continued to show unreserved commitment to his vision of creating safer road environments for the country.
The first test of this idealism was the launch of “Operation Scorpion” in March last year in Lagos, which targeted tanker and trailer drivers who undermined safety standards that resulted in perennial tanker crashes claiming precious lives and destroying valuable property in parts of the country. Within two days of the commencement of the operations, over there thousand (3,000) trucks had been apprehended for different safety offences. But as some public commentators rightly observed, “no driver rose against the operation because robust consultations had preceded the enforcement.”
Furthermore, when the Corps conceived the idea of introducing speed limiters following consistent report of speed related crashes in the country, relevant stakeholders were brought on board and they all unanimously keyed into the policy. Following the presidential directive on the enforcement date, 1st of April 2016 was set aside, after aggressive public enlightenment programmes had been carried out. But before the date, a Motion was passed at the floors of the National Assembly to suspend the enforcement of the law until a public hearing has been conducted by the House Committee on FRSC to determine the desirability of the policy.
As it turned out however, the public hearing rather created opportunity for different road transport unions, stakeholders, labour unions and civil society groups to queue behind the FRSC in the policy they claimed to be theirs. Consequently, the Committee had no alternative but to recommend the use of the device while the entire membership of the House concurred with the unanimous resolution to lift the suspension order earlier placed on the enforcement of the law.
In sustaining the policies and programmes of the Corps, Oyeyemi has strengthened the Post Service Scheme (PSS) by making it possible for staff to now receive alerts of their monthly contributions. In the same vein, the FRSC Academy Udi has been made the venue for most of the staff capacity development programmes in the deliberate efforts to improve the infrastructure of the Institution. The Corps Marshal has developed a practical approach to addressing the question of backlog of staff promotion by institutionalising the annual promotion exercise which has begun for this year with junior Marshals.
Meanwhile, the World Bank continues to support the staff capacity development programme of the Corps by agreeing to train certain number of officers on patrol ranks at the Police Highway Patrol Academy, Sacramento USA annually, even different capacity development programmes for staff at all levels have been on course. President Muhammadu Buhari displayed his administration’s commitment to supporting the FRSC recently when he commissioned 283 patrol vehicles, tow trucks and ambulances for the Corps to enhance its operational and rescue capability with promise to do more. The logistics support of the administration, was according to Corps Marshal Oyeyemi, unprecedented in the history of the FRSC.
Thus, as the FRSC staff mark two years of action and total commitment to the development of the Corps under Oyeyemi-led Management, the consensus is that the organisation has witnessed tremendous development within the period and would continue to experience more as we begin another year. That is why most of the staff who gathered in both the Church and Mosque on Friday, 22nd July to pray for the sustenance of the leadership also hope for more prosperity in their career development in the coming years.
Sami Abdullahi, is the Media Assistant to the Corps Marshal of FRSC.