By Raheem Adedoyin
The Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) clocked 30 years recently. It was a low-key celebration but the nation didn’t fail to its impact over the years.
Former military President Ibrahim Babangida( rtd), aka IBB who created the Corps in 1988 can look proudly back and say he created an enduring institution that has grown in size, character, influence and relevance.
I’m passionate about FRSC, it’s officials and their work. There is a history to that, one that in part explains my rise to editorial leadership at The Guardian in the late 80s.
In 1985 when I joined the Guardian, I was the pioneer in transport reporting in the country. From exclusive reporting under the guidance of the masterful editor, Mr. Femi Kusa,
The Guardian soon became the household newspaper for the travelling public, policymakers, corporate bodies and transport institutions and businesses.
FRSC came in fortuitously in 1988 when the Guardian had created a transport page that became an instant commercial success.
One lovely evening, FRSC Corps Marshal and Chief Executive, Dr. Olu Agunloye had visited Rutam House, the head office of the newspapers. He was a guest of Dr. Yemi Ogunbayo, his bosom friend and Director of public affairs / member of Editorial board.
Dr. Ogunbayo sent for me and introduced me to his visitor. I didn’t need to be told this was one big chance for a major news story. I hit it off straight with DOA. With no pen and paper, I engaged our guest in a conversation on his fledging commission.
The following day, The Guardian published a back page story on road Safety, sourced from my conversation with the FRSC boss.
Agunloye was stunned by the accuracy of the report even when I gave no indication I was interviewing him for a story.
He invited me to FRSC office in Gbagada, Lagos, introduced me to Prof. Wole Soyinka (FRSC Chair) and inducted me to his Media Strategy Team.
As public enlightenment was (and still is) the heartbeat of road Safety work, having a media strategist (an outsider with a streak of independence) was a smart move.
The developing relationship helped my career as I successfully persuaded him to write a weekly column for The Guardian Transport Page. His column, Road Safety Tips, illustrated with the FRSC logo was a hit. The Guardian had access to the inner recesses of the commission; I participated in their major patrols, open house and other major activities.
Soyinka gave Agunloye and his team the cover they needed to do their job well. The marshals were dedicated, incorruptible and respected. The fear of “Soyinka boys” was the beginning of wisdom for reckless drivers. Not even military men were immune to this fear; they behaved well on the road or got punished for traffic offences. No sacred cows in those days.
FRSC has witnessed tremendous transformation and the icing on the cake now is that a pioneer officer of the Corps is at the helm of affairs.
Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, a Ph.D holder, an alumnus of the prestigious National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, leaves no one in doubt that a regime of discipline, integrity and competency has returned fully to FRSC.
I have maintained a 30-year solid relationship with Agunloye, Oyeyemi and some of the pioneer officers. They are a delight to associate with.
Congratulations to the officers and staff of FRSC. Congratulations to IBB for creating an enduring institution. Congratulations to Nigerians for their abiding faith in the safety corps.
Adedoyin, former Kwara State Commissioner for Information, writes from Ilorin