Volunteering without holding back, By ACM Kayode Olagunju

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(Being an address at the 2019 Special Marshals Sectorial Workshop Organized by RS10.3 Zamfara Sector Command on Saturday 16 November, 2019)

It is with profound gratitude that I address you all at this year’s Special Marshals’ Sectorial Workshop with the theme, “Special Marshals of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. This should not have come at a better time than now, because many road users have increased their travels either for their businesses or other purposes, as people make efforts to realize their yet to be realized goals set for the years . The preparation for Christmas and New Year celebrations within these last months of the year called Ember Months is also heightened, necessitating a lot of movements on the road. These movements must be safe and stress free, hence all hands must be on the deck to achieve safe and tearless trips across our nation.

Let me appreciate the Special Marshals that have been with us for a long time now as well as those who are just joining us. You have chosen a noble path of volunteerism as you contribute your quotas to safer community. The Special Marshal initiative is a scheme where the volunteers are equipped with the required knowledge and empowered by the law on traffic management and road safety administration, encompassing education, researches, rescue, traffic control, arrests and prosecution, among other responsibilities. It is novel and proudly Nigerian. Let us salute the vision of the founding fathers of this great organization for this foundation of community policing in Nigeria. These functions are enshrined in Section 10(2&3) of FRSC [Establishment] Act, 2007. Special Marshals are to organize, sponsor and participate in workshops annually to create more awareness and enlightenment among themselves with a view to increase their effectiveness and build capacity as well as brainstorm on topical issues in championing the course of road safety with a view to bequeathing a better motoring environment in the country.

Activities of Special Marshals have brought the awareness of road safety to most segments of the society because their membership cuts across every sphere of our society. Academicians, transporters, civil society groups, journalists, captains of industry, celebrities etc are involved in Special Marshal activities. By their numbers, Special Marshals have adequately complemented the efforts f the Regular Marshals, especially in the areas of patrol operations, traffic controls, public enlightenment, among others. They have also made tangible contributions to the operations of the Corps in not only in the State but the country in general through donations and repairs of operational vehicles and other equipment, as well as sponsorship of public enlightenment programme of the Corps. They serve as image makers for the Corps through advocacy.

It is therefore hoped that the few challenges of their numerical strength and lack of enough funds/sponsorships to energise road safety clubs through quiz, debates and road safety talks they are grappling with will be tackled head-on through recruitment of more honest men and women from all walks of life into their folds so that more sponsorships will be bought in to ensure wider scope and coverage of preaching the gospel of road safety especially among the younger ones to catch them young.

The Special Marshals’ 2019 Sectorial Workshop has the theme “The FRSC Special Marshals, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” . Yes, we need to look at the past to understand where we came from, then benchmark the present activities against what we used to do and look into the future with great hopes. I am privileged to have witnessed the beginning of this laudable scheme, arguably the first of such experience in the world and I have been involved for over three decades. I could still remember the excitement of the first sets of special marshals. They were always on the road controlling traffic. They willingly exercised their powers of arrest as they get scheduled for patrol. Those in the universities and other higher institutions were turning in researches on road traffic crashes, causes, effects and control.

Special Marshals were also providing feedback on road conditions. They were always at the terminals (motor parks) to educate drivers, distributing their self sponsored public enlightenment handbills. These men with visible means of livelihood were assisting the Corps in terms of funding some of our activities and logistics provision. Some individuals were even providing the Corps patrol vehicles and tow trucks. These men were purely selfless. Many of them have gone to be with the Lord. May we please rise and give a minute silence for all the departed special marshals. May their souls continue to rest in peace. And to those of the old special marshals that are still living and contributing in one way or the other, you are greatly appreciated. May the Lord continue to bless you all.

Now to the present ones, many of you are seated here for this workshop. You have been chosen as men of proven integrity and we believe your participation will further enhance road safety in your different communities. Some of you have contributed positively and you are still making efforts to further enhance road safety activities in your immediate environment. We thank you all. However, I need to point out here that the interests, commitment and dedication are waning. The visibility of the special marshals on our roads has greatly reduced. We don’t get to have the support as it used to be. Research reports are no longer coming in from those in academia. I no longer see often or hear of Special Marshals getting involved in blood donation drive to add blood to our blood bank to save lives of crash victims . Not many special marshals still get involved in education of road users.

Some special marshals now ask, “what is in it for us? “ “ what are we benefiting?” Their daily demand for gains from the system attacks the basic foundation of essence of volunteerism. Some use their membership of the group for personal gains . Many have developed apathy and just answering special marshals when they want to evade arrests after contravening traffic laws. It has become a status symbol for many. They no longer attend meetings, public enlightenment rallies and other activities of the group. It is always excuses upon excuses. Some of them came in through faulty recruitment processes and our monitoring and evaluation could have in some instances not strong enough to identify and deal with these few unproductive ones promptly.

I have been an active participant in one way or the other in the activities of special marshals in the Corps from the beginning. I can also say, it is not all gloom. We have good stories to tell. We have distinguished, highly placed individuals and great men of honour daily contributing positively. Many Special Marshals are still highly committed and dedicated. The fire is still burning. Some of you are also seated here. Honestly, the success story of the FRSC is incomplete without the valuable contributions of special marshals fully stressed. They give their time, resources and all they are endowed with to help in evolving better road culture in Nigeria. These are in the majority, the selfless ones. Please join me in applauding these wonderful people. They must however join the leadership of the Corps to make things better.

Sure the Corps is not unaware of the challenges facing the operations of the Scheme and these are being addressed frontally. We are aware that insecurity in some places have affected your visibility on the highways. The management of the Corps is also aware of the need to rejig the system. The Special Marshals guidelines are being tinkered with for better results. Security and welfare of special marshals are of paramount interest to the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi NPoM, mni and his management. We all need to cooperate fully as we develop a new spirit for the overall benefits of the Nigerian road users.

Let me come home to address our expectations on this Workshop. You will be reminded of the different initiatives of the Corps and we will let you know how your diverse backgrounds and great experiences will help the attainment of our organizational mandates. I hope these will raise your productivity and reignite your fire of patriotism, commitment and realization of the essence of volunteerism. This should fire your spirit of volunteerism without holding back.

The Zonal Command is determined to reorientate special marshals in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states. In line with the RSHQ directives, thorough screening exercises leading to identification of those who have lost steam and removal of such individuals have been carried out. We have brought on board highly qualified and competent new members. We will protect you while performing your duties. No case of assault of any Special Marshal on duty will not attract prosecution. We will seek to jail the aggressors. We will also pursue integrity of your operations.

Let me also warn that special marshal involved in bribery, incivility to members of the public and other misdemeanor will also be strictly dealt with in accordance with the extant regulations. Training will also be fully pursued while we have the assurances of our National Headquarters of improved welfare and motivational activities. We believe the Scheme will continue to be relevant as we jointly put our knowledge, resources and other endowment together to make our roads safer. We must develop zero tolerance for road crashes as we create communities where no crash results in any fatality. That is where we want to be, the future.

Permit me at this juncture, to call on each and every one of you to support Road Safety initiatives that are geared towards saving lives and property of our citizens, which is the primary responsibility of any Government or Society. Let me also appreciate the Zamfara State Government for the support for the FRSC in the state. We thank His Excellency, Hon. Dr Bello Mohammad, Matawallen Maradun for his numerous contributions towards securing lives and property of the people of the State. The wonderful contributions of all the security agencies and other Stakeholders in Zamfara State are also noted and applauded. The Corps Marshal Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, NPoM, FCILT, mni sends his greetings and asked me to specifically appreciate the contributions of all. Let us remember Safety is a collective responsibility. I wish you all safe journey into the year 2020 and beyond.

Thank you all for listening.

Zonal Commanding Officer,
Zone RS 10 (Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States)
Zonal Headquarter, Sokoto

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