The United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt, has commended Nigeria for taking significant steps to accomplish the United Nations global target forecast to stabilise and reduce road traffic deaths around the world by 2020.
Todt gave the commendation, while presenting a keynote address at the 7th Annual Lecture Series of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), with the theme, “Achieving the Goals of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in Africa”, held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria.
The United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, also stated that according to the Road Safety mid-year report for 2017, Nigerian roads are the safest roads in Africa.
He however noted that the country needs better data, which will reflect the reality of its road safety situations to enable the Commission measure its national strategy towards actualising the goals and agenda set by the United Nations; and therefore called on Nigeria, to step up its game and play a significant role in the African Road Safety Action Plan, based on their quick response to international action plan agenda.
In his welcome address, the Corps Marshal of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, laid emphasis on the achievements the Corps has achieved on the goals of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in Africa, noting that, since the commencement of this action plan, available statistics has shown that the rate of accidents has drastically reduced, due to the fact that road users are gradually responding to FRSC’s awareness campaign programmes on safe use of our roads across the country.
Speaking further, the Corps Marshal said the theme of this year’s programme was timely in the face of road safety problems and challenges going on at the global level, declaring that the 7th edition was a platform to enable the Corps access and evaluate its commitment to the UN goals at both national and international levels.
Pioneer Chairman of the FRSC, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in his remark, intimated guests on the background of the Commission, stating that the concept started in the early 1980’s, when he was a lecturer at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, when the university lost not less than six students in a fatal road accident.
According to the Nobel Laureate, the accident brought to the fore a dire need for the cadets to ensure safety on our roads, disclosing that the concept was approved by the Oyo State Government before it finally became the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
The Honourable Minister, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mallam Mohammed Bello, who was the chief host at the occasion, while welcoming participants, called on members of the Corps to lay emphasis on meeting the global concern on Road Safety Strategy and Networking, saying it was pertinent as a result of increase in population, which had necessitated the need to expand road infrastructure in urban centres.
He noted that problems arise in most cases when the developmental agenda of government in terms infrastructure development and legislation processes would not allow the Corps to meet up with their targets or goals; and that there was need to synergise and network with various governments to ensure achievement.
The Minister appreciated the enforcement strategy of FRSC, which he noted, was yielding results and advised them to create more awareness to enable road users and other stakeholders have a level playing ground, as this will galvanise individuals to play their roles effectively in ensuring compliance.
It would be recalled that the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) was proclaimed by the United Nation’s General Assembly in March, 2010. The idea was formalised at the Declaration, which resulted from the first Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, hosted by the Government of the Federation of Russia in November, 2009.
The goal of the proclamation is to stabilise and reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world, because, according to Global Status Report on Road Safety, road traffic crashes take the lives of nearly 1.3 Million people every year and injures to about 20-50 million others.
The report noted that more than 90% of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in low-income and middle-income countries, which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles; and that if no action is taken, road traffic crashes are predicted to result in the death of around 1.9 million people annually by Year 2020.
Therefore, the United Nations Road Safety collaboration developed a global plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020, as an overall framework for activities to take place in the context of the decade to curb this projected challenge.
The categories or pillars of activities put in place are: Road Safety Management; Safer Roads and Mobility; Safer Vehicles; Safer Road Users and Post-Crash Responses; and a private sector coalition that promotes road safety, codenamed “Together for Safer Roads” (TSR), which aligns with the aforementioned pillars by developing programmes for the private sector to improve road safety.
Dignitaries at the occasion included, the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, represented by the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri; the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who was Chairman on the occasion; the Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habibat Lawan; Honourable Minister, Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; the Director, Infrastructure, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, Dr. Antoinette G. Weeks; the Senior Transport Specialist, World Bank Country Office, Kenya, Mrs. Tawia Adon Ashong; the President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Lagos, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; and the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation, (NICO) Assoc. Prof. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, who was represented by Assistant Director and Head, Cultural Affairs of the Institute, Pastor Segun Adegbaju
NICO Head Office, Abuja