Delta Governor, Sen. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has said that reducing road crashes in Nigeria should be treated as a national emergency to prevent people dying from avoidable road accidents.
Okowa made the disclosure at the 2021 Road Marshal Assistant Drivers Basic Course Passing Out Parade (POP) held at the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Marshal Inspectorate Training School, Owa-Alero, Ika North East Local Government Area of the state.
He said his administration was proud to have made modest contributions to road safety in Nigeria and called for a national emergency to reduce road crashes in the country.
He said latest figures from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) suggest a decline in the number of road accidents as at the second quarter of 2021.
However, the consensus remains that the number of road crashes on our roads is still a matter of very serious concern.
According to the NBS, road accidents fell marginally from 3,301 in the first quarter of 2021 to 3,185 in the second quarter, representing a decrease of 3.51 percent.
“The report also indicated that commercial vehicles accounted for 64.92 percent of the total vehicles involved.
“From all indications, speed violation, wrongful overtaking, and dangerous overtaking are some of the major causes of road accidents in the country.
“It is my considered view that the issue of road safety should be treated as a national emergency. There are just too many people dying from avoidable road accidents.
“I believe that as a first step to drastically reduce the number of accidents on our roads, public enlightenment is crucial.
“I dare say that most drivers on our roads, commercial and private, are not conversant with road signs and safe driving habits.
“It is going to take more than sanctions to curb the indiscipline and recklessness on our roads and our approach should be proactive,” he said.
He said using handphones while driving, failure to observe road signs/streetlights, poorly maintained vehicles, over speeding, and driving while intoxicated were some of the bad habits among drivers that causes road crashes.
“The FRSC must, as a matter of exigency, educate Nigerians continually and continuously on the meaning of road signs, the importance of observing them, and the need for them to regularly service and maintain their vehicles.
“For it to be effective, the enlightenment campaign should not be done on ad-hoc basis; it should be part and parcel of the daily activities of the agency.
“This is the only way to ensure that our people imbibe the culture of safe driving and nobody who has not been properly taught, tested, and found worthy of driving should be entrusted with a Driving License; the process for obtaining one must be strict and rigorous, and enforced without fear or favour,” Okowa stated
He congratulated the first set of Corps Marshals trained in the facility, adding that “we are very glad to partner with you on this project.
“Exactly eleven months today, this Marshal Inspectorate Training School was commissioned by the Vice-President of the Federal republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
“It is a thing of joy for me that in less than a year after, we are already reaping the fruits of this investment by the State Government in partnership with the Federal Road Safety Corps,” Okowa added.
In his remarks, the Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi applauded Governor Okowa for providing the Marshal Inspectorate Training School and other support services which, according to him, had helped the FRSC in the training of its professionals.
Oyeyemi said the school had produced 600 drivers that would be deployed across the country to assist the Corp in stimulating operational efficiency.
He stated that the drivers had been given six months regimental training which would go a long way in reducing carnage on the nation’s highway, even as he noted that the training would enable the drivers become instructors.
Highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of awards to some of the graduands for their excellent performance in the course of the programme.