Since his assumption of office as the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in July 2014, Boboye Olayemi Oyeyemi, who is the first officer of the FRSC to emerge from within the organisation to that position has been piloting the affairs of the Corps most admirably by his unrelenting moves to prove his mettle. Though prior to his appointment, he was widely identified as an unbeatable operational personality with consistent excellent performance as the head of department of operations in the FRSC’s annual departmental competition which he sustained even after his deployment to other departments, the added leadership responsibilities that go with the office of the Corps Marshal created more expectations on him by the staff.
Accordingly, Oyeyemi has in the last one and half year left no one in doubt about his mission in the FRSC, which he demonstrated during his maiden address to staff on parade after his decoration. Bubbling with confidence and enthusiasm, he told the staff that his Management would be driven by the principles of Consultation, Reward and Punishment (CRP) to ensure increased staff productivity and discipline in the system. Ironically, his subsequent policies and programmes have continued to show him as a leader that is focused and committed to the set goals.
Among the major policy decisions of his Management towards achieving the strategic goals of the Corps are his consistent staff capacity building programmes, motivational policies and push for increased productivity. That was why when he addressed staff at the commencement of the promotion course at the FRSC Academy Udi Enugu state last year, he stated that based on what the Management has discovered in the ongoing exercise, a decision has been taken that all subsequent promotion courses for officers would be done at the FRSC Academy. He added that for proper measurement of performances of the Commanding Officers, he would ensure that those that would be saddled with leadership responsibilities at the various levels of the Corps would be brought together for brainstorming sessions with members of the Management for ease of assessment, policy making and implementation.
That promise was fulfilled recently when he brought all the newly appointed Commanding Officers, most of who were beneficiaries of the last year’s promotion exercise comprising of the Sector and Unit Commanders as well as Zonal Commanding Officers from across the states of the Federation who had an uninterrupted 3 days of capacity building and strategic sessions with selected members of the Management from 14 to 16th March 2016 at the FRSC Academy Udi.
The programme which had as its theme, “enhancing organisational productivity,” was the first of its kind in the history of the FRSC management system as members of the FRSC Management and Commanding Officers came under the same room at the same time to brainstorm on the Corps’ policies and programmes. They also received lectures from experts and professors from University as well as Military institution before settling down for discussion on strategic goal setting. Declaring the capacity building programme open on Monday, 14th March 2016, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engineer Babachir David Lawal who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Policy Development and Analysis, Ibrahim Bapatel Hassan, stated that with the high premium which the FRSC places on staff training and capacity development, the Corps would not disappoint the nation, as the people look up to it to provide solutions to the road safety challenges facing it.
He added that the task of creating safer motoring environment, though herculean and often fraught with daunting challenges in a nation like Nigerian, he was confident in the ability of the FRSC to rise up to the occasion. “Just recently, 30 members of the FRSC top management participated in an international road safety training programme organised at the California Highway Patrol Authority in Sacramento, USA,” he stated.
“Prior to this, 30 FRSC Officers of patrol bracket had attended a similar course at the same institution in 2014. That same year, 200 middle level Officers benefitted from a World Bank sponsored six months capacity building course at this first ever Road Safety Academy in the African sub-region where we are privileged to be standing today,” he added.
After stressing the importance of the workshop to the capacity development of the Commanding Officers, the SGF urged them to listen attentively; ask pertinent questions and make constructive contributions to enhance the process of understanding and generation of new ideas. “I therefore, urge you all to take advantage of the opportunity to enhance your capacity towards better service delivery,” he further stated.
The Corps Marshal who welcomed guests and participants to the programme, stated that staff capacity development initiative of the FRSC has become a veritable tool which it relies upon for successful implementation of its policies and programmes, noting that the Workshop was packaged in collaboration with the University of Nigeria Nsukka. “This programme is strategically targeted at Unit Commanders who are the representatives of the FRSC at their level and the critical change agents required by the Corps for the success of its general overhaul and injection of new lease of life,” he stated.
While enumerating the aims of the workshop, Oyeyemi stressed the need to tackle obstacles militating against efficient implementation of corporate goals of the FRSC and exploring the different methods of learning and facilities for proper understanding of the strategic goals of the Corps. He urged the participants to brace up to the strategic alliances that can support the ethical working of the Corps while strategising for success at all times. “Participants are expected to brace up to the roles and place of Commanding Officers in the scheme of things; understand the process of developing effective policies and framework within the Corps and enhance facilitation, consultation and collaborative skills of the Commanding Officers,” he stated.
With the opening ceremony over, the rest of the programme for the day was devoted to presentations on critical internal issues on such areas as operations, administration and discipline with most of the presentations coming from the relevant heads of the department and Corps Officers. The session ended with interactive session between the Deputy Corps Marshal in charge of Operations and the Unit Commanders.
On the second day of the programme, presentations came from experts from various fields including the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army Enugu as well as Head of Department of Public Administration and Local Government of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, who came with other erudite professors and scholars of the same university. The presentations which were centred on different topics relevant to the theme of the workshop exposed the participants to the theoretical and practical knowledge of strategic management. It brought to the fore, the idea of strategic studies from its military origin to its current applications in the field of politics, management and marketing. Some of the Resource Persons from the University who had over the years been relating mostly with students from civil background had a taste of regimentation in the delivery of their papers, as they had to contend with the peculiar idealism of regimental practices. In fact, most of them confessed that it was an interesting setting that had robustly enriched their understanding of the subject of strategic studies.
The third and final day of the programme comprised of such interesting items as presentations by the invited quests including the Governor of Enugu state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who declared the session open and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Raji Babtunde Fashola who presented a paper on axle load implementation in Nigeria. In his opening remarks, the Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Professor Uche Eze, restated the commitment of the Enugu state government to partnering with the FRSC and support for its efforts to promote road safety ideals in the country.
According to him, ensuring road safety is a daunting mandate in a country like Nigeria, where over 70 percent of transportation is done by road with disturbing casualty figures from road mishaps which occur regularly all over the country. He therefore urged the participants to use the opportunity to address the menace of road traffic crashes through adequate capacity development, saying training and retraining as well as properly equipping the Corps are moves in the right direction. “The annual training session holding this year under the theme, Enhancing Organisational Productivity, is therefore, a proper step in this direction,” he stated.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, who was represented by his Special Assistant on Technical Matters, Femi Hamzat in his presentation traced the origin of axle load implementation in the country and identified a number of challenges bedevilling effective road development in the country. He disclosed that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has come up with a 3 year plan for the completion of major roads of about 6,000 kilometers linking different states and regions of the country.
The Minister while commending the FRSC for its commitment to issues of road safety, pledged continuous collaboration of the Ministry in the collective determination of the present administration to make the nation’s highways safe, being the most dominant means of transportation of goods and services in the country. As a way of ensuring effective implementation of axle load in the country, he recommended the need for effective enforcement of axle load regulations; installation of axle load weighing stations on transit corridors and design and introduction of support measures to truckers to encourage compliance, adding that strict enforcement of use of weighbridges for the control of axle load in Nigeria, completion of the ongoing railway lines and regular traffic and axle load studies would enhance effective implementation of the law passed by ECOWAS in 2012
Earlier, the Corps Marshal who welcomed the guests and participants to the session stated that the strategic session for Commanding Officers was part of the continuing efforts by the FRSC Management to brainstorm with Commanding Officers at the various levels in setting the Corps’ strategic goals in line with the change mantra of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buahri. According to him, increasing public expectation on the FRSC for improved service delivery coupled with the need for finding lasting solutions to the intractable road safety challenges facing the country made it imperative that Management develops capacity of the personnel, especially the Commanding Officers to enable them manage the human and material resources at their disposal most efficiently to achieve the desired goals.
Oyeyemi urged the Commanding Officers to embrace the change mantra both in their work ethics and relationship with other stakeholders by continually engaging staff to deliver improved services to the people, especially the road users. He added that the Corps is stepping up its consultative efforts with various stakeholders in road transport business and building confidence of the staff through their involvement in various activities in line with its principles of Consultation, Reward and Punishment (CRP). “You must sustain advocacy and ensure strict enforcement of safety standards,” he stated.
With the end of the morning session, the rest of the day was devoted to strategic goal setting by the Management who sat with the Commanding Officers for free interactions, questions and critical review of the Corps’ performance in the last one year. The reviews which led to the rating of the Commands’ performances in the last one year against the set goals saw some of the Commands and individuals that performed excellently being rewarded in cash and kind in line with the reward system of the Management.
According to most of the participants, the programme was indeed, an eye opener and an opportunity to witness at first hand, the leadership initiatives of the current Corps Marshal, thus removing the unfounded fears, rumours, uncertainty and doubts that formed the opinions of some of the Commanders and staff before the programme commenced. According to some Unit Commanders who spoke about the programme after it came to an end, but who preferred to remain anonymous, the programme succeeded not only in boosting their confidence in the system, but also propelling them for higher productivity, as they realised that most of the misconceptions they had about the leadership of the Corps before coming were fuelled by rumours.
“From what we have seen here, no one needs to tell us to work harder to earn our places in the FRSC under the current dispensation. We are now more enlightened on most of the policy issues and convinced that one can succeed on merit without necessarily depending on some internal or external links,” one of the Commanders stated. Others who spoke on the same issue were unanimous in their views that the programme made them to appreciate the challenges the FRSC Management is facing in strengthening the Corps and stressed that they are now poised to contribute their own quota to make the system work better.
According to them, the emergence of the winners at the various stages of the competition and instant cash rewards to them as well as certificates which entitled them to some marks in the next examinations will definitely spur all to work harder as they return to their commands. One officer succinctly captured the original fears of the Commanding Officers when they got the invitation to attend the programme when he stated that most of them came with the mindset that they were going to be insulted, embarrassed and humiliated.
He added that when they however observed the civility with which the Corps Marshal and his Management staff started relating with them, coupled with their more friendly, supportive and engaging dispositions, they became instantly relaxed. “That was why you observed that throughout the period of three day that the programme, there was no major misunderstanding, provocation or ill-feelings among the participants, as everyone conducted himself well with commendation to the Corps Marshal for the initiative,” he stated.
As the programme was being rounded off, the Corps Marshal who spoke to the already excited participants, promised that he would organise similar programme again before the end of the year to enable them review some of the resolutions made. He went further to wish all the participants safe trip to their commands, adding that whenever they arrived safely they should endeavour to text to the Deputy Corps Marshal in charge of Operations to confirm.
To the surprise of most of the participants, the standing ovation that followed that remark was spontaneous. But as one officer puts it, “the action signified the extent of satisfaction of the participants and their resolve to be part of the new management drive for enhanced productivity in the FRSC, which was the original aim of the programme.”
Abdullahi, a Superintendent Route Commander is the Media Assistant to the Corps Marshal and was at the Workshop. He can be reached on email@example.com