Guns won't solve the problems bedeviling the FRSC. The agency has to be smarter in keeping our roads safe
It was right there on the 10 O'Clock news.
According to Oyeyemi, “The Act gives power to the Corps to bear arms and 5,000 of our personnel have been trained. We are just waiting for the validation of the earlier approval. Sadly, within the one year, we have lost 70 personnel.
“It is sad to note that some killing and maiming of operatives, including one from a sister agency in close collaboration with the Corps were in the course of official duties.
“A recent occurrence was the happening in Talata Mafara, Zamfara State where a motorist ran into the Mobile Court in session, killing three operatives almost instantly while a Civil Defence operative died later as a result of injuries sustained in the dastardly act.
The Act establishing the FRSC actually grants its personnel the right to bear arms.
The relevant section reads thus:
"For the purpose of carrying out or enforcing the provisions of this Act, such members of the corps as may be determined by the Commission, exposed to high risk in the provisions of this Act, shall have the same powers, authorities and privileges including POWER TO BEAR ARMS (emphasis mine) as are given by law to members of the Nigerian Police".
This piece is therefore not about what the law says regarding FRSC personnel carrying arms. It's about whether we should allow these guys brandish guns just because the law says so.
Last week, a young lady who goes by the Twitter name @opichizzie, narrated how her car was bashed and how her phone was smashed to the tarmac by an uncouth FRSC personnel.
After ascertaining that her car particulars were up-to-date, the officer stormed off the scene in a huff.
He offered no apologies.
Just imagine that the officer in question had a gun.
There've been several instances like the one Ms. @opichizzie shared with her Twitter followers.
A few months ago, this writer checked into the FRSC office to get a drivers' license. The FRSC chaps in the premises directed yours truly to touts in the premises who charge N20,000 for a first time license.
However, the same FRSC goes on TV and Radio to say it charges N6, 500 for a first time license.
It doesn't mention that it commissions touts within its own premises who pose as driving school instructors, to extort three times the amount allowed for a license
It's been one year now. This writer has no drivers' license to call his own, save for what was called a 'drivers permit' from the touts.
"Wait for capture date", FRSC personnel will tell you, each day you find the time to demand answers from their offices.
On the road, I have been harassed by FRSC personnel for not 'possessing' a valid drivers' license. And I have had to plead myself out of the company of stern looking FRSC personnel.
These days, FRSC personnel hide at road bends, sharp corners or under trees to harass motorists. Gone is the decorum and civility the FRSC was once known for.
The FRSC office on Isheri Road, Ojodu-Berger, Lagos is like a market place for touts who extort money from members of the public with the express permission of the guys in brown uniforms.
To hand these guys guns won't address the underlying problem of the carnage on our roads--it will worsen it.
FRSC boss Oyeyemi says his men should carry guns because he's lost 70 of his personnel to the cold hands of death. For the Carpenter, every problem can be solved with a hammer.
The Police bear arms, but that hasn't stopped its personnel from being killed.
It's sad that we lost 70 FRSC personnel in 2016 alone. But carrying guns would probably have made little or no difference. Would the casualty figures have been reversed, perhaps in higher degree? We'll never know.
Our men in uniform have to rebuild trust between themselves and members of the public. Over the years, that trust has been eroded thanks to illicit, sharp practices. Unfortunately so.
What will help is that the FRSC needs to return to its original mandate of making our roads safer by becoming smarter, not by meeting brute force with even more brute, deadly force.
Why can't tickets be issued to motorists who flout traffic rules for instance, instead of chasing them across town like we are in the 14th century?
Why should cars be impounded with brute force in 2016?
And how is it that the Police still extorts money from motorists while FRSC personnel watch in admiration--as though in support of the illicit activities of the men in black?
Should the Police be asking anyone for drivers' license and vehicle particulars at all?
Why is it that Nigerians are now of the impression that FRSC, VIO (Vehicle Inspection Officers) and the Police collude to steal from them on our roads?
The FRSC shouldn't be handed guns, because guns don't necessarily solve problems. Just ask the Police who go trigger happy at the slightest provocation and have killed citizens over N50.
Technology in checking traffic infractions should be relied upon to make our roads safer in 2016.
Guns won't help anyone. There never have.