Stories by Moses Akaigwe 08072100049
The United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt, has called for collective efforts towards achieving success in the campaign against the of use of phone while driving and drunk-driving, as well as the promotion of the use of crash helmet by motorcyclists .
He is hopeful that with appreciable success in these areas, Nigeria would meet the target of the UN Decade of Action on road safety: 2011-2020.
Mr. Todt made the remarks during his courtesy visit to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja.
He described the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as an inspiration for other African countries and called on them to emulate Nigeria’s example in dealing with the menace of road traffic crashes in the continent.
Mr. Todt, who was the guest speaker at the 7th edition of the FRSC Annual Lecture Series, thanked the people and government of Nigeria for the warm reception accorded him and members of his entourage.
Noting that the lecture was a huge success, he described the annual forum as a positive initiative capable of generating public awareness on issues of road safety. He said that he was impressed with the organisational structure of the cops, its enforcement capability and investment in human capacity development which have resulted in a boost in ambulance and rescue services on the nation’s highways.
Mr. Todt commended the Nigerian government for the huge investment made in road safety, saying what he has seen in the country has allayed his fears about the growing menace of road traffic crashes in developing countries, particularly in the African continent.
The envoy further disclosed that the UN has worked on a number of conventions which he would be availing the FRSC to enhance its capacity for enforcement and appealed for sustained government support through improved investment in road infrastructure and education.
In his remarks, the Vice President, thanked Mt Todt for visiting the country and accepting to serve as the Guest Speaker at this year’s edition of the FRSC annual lecture series. This, he said, was an indication of the envoy’s interest in road safety matters especially in Africa, and commended him for his untiring efforts to encourage African countries to set up their own road safety lead agencies.
He restated the commitment of the Nigerian government to road safety campaign, noting that the recent approval given to the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy Document by the National Economic Council and the inauguration of the National Road Safety Advisory Council point to the nation’s readiness to tackle the menace of road traffic crashes with political will of the government.
The Vice President identified attitudinal change as the major threat to the success of road safety campaign in the country, saying issues like the use of seatbelt, speeding and drunk driving are attitude-related and could be addressed through positive attitude change by people.
Earlier in his lecture at the Presidential Villa, the envoy had expressed concern with the low level of commitment to issues of road safety by governments of African countries, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the social and economic consequences of the menace of road traffic crashes on the development of the continent.
While appealing for more attention to issues of road safety in Nigeria, Mr Todt observed that road transportation remains the most dominant mode of conveying people and goods in the country, stressing that special attention should, therefore, be given to safety on the roads. “Nigeria can serve as an example for other African nations through credible data management and greater investments in road safety education,” he stated.
The lecture, which attracted participation from various fields of endeavours, including the diplomatic corps, transport unions, civil society organisations and road safety clubs from primary and secondary schools, as well as and the National Youth Service Corps.
The Vice President, who was the Special Guest of Honour, was represented by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Alhaji Suleiman Hassan, while the Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr Habibat Lawal and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammed Bello, were also in attendance.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enita