Chidokaa is disrobed!
The story of the Emperor’s new clothes is meant to teach children the value of humility. It’s about a leader who was so vainglorious he couldn’t see that he was making a fool of himself strutting around pompously, wallowing in praise for wearing clothes which only he could see. It took an innocent child who didn’t know how to lie to cry out that the Emperor was naked! It reminds me of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Corps Marshal Osita Chidoka. When appointed FRSC Chief Executive in 2007 he had never previously held any executive management position, never spent more than three years in any one job, had no track record in public administration, and was basically a political appointee with no corporate work experience.
Many FRSC staff opposed the appointment on the grounds that Chidoka’s inexperience and apparent immaturity would handicap the organization’s development. They have been proved right. Under his watch the once highly respected and admired Corps has degenerated into a public nuisance, extorting money from drivers and contributing little to prevention of death on our highways. The once proud FRSC has lost focus, squandered the goodwill of the populace, and failed to significantly reduce the death rate on our highways. While FRSC executives occupy themselves by arranging extortion schemes, there is unabated daily slaughter on our roads. Obsessed with vanity and self-promotion the FRSC Corps Marshal travels constantly seeking only photo opportunities.
On an almost daily basis, Chidoka appears in newspapers doing nothing but preening himself. Now under him the FRSC has hit an all-time low with a Federal High Court in Lagos declaring him naked! Delivering judgment in a suit filed against the FRSC the Court said it was unlawful for the Commission to impose new number plates on Nigerians where no existing law permitted it. Who would ever have thought that one of Chidoka’s other political appointments was as Special Adviser to the President on “legal matters”! There are different levels of viciousness in our society and Chidoka exhibited the most base level when he expressed his preparedness to inflict unnecessary suffering on millions of his fellow countrymen. He appeared on television arrogantly and insolently threatening that he would order his men to impound all vehicles without his new number plate. The Federal High Court ruled that he cannot force Nigerians to acquire new number plates by impounding vehicles without the backing of any law. There are certain actions which disgrace and dishonour humanity, and profiting from human misery is one of them. It is even more scandalous when the offender is a government agency. The Corps Marshal evidently suffers from a form of spiritual poverty which doesn’t allow him to empathize with the sufferings of his fellow human beings. All over the world, the countries that prosper are those that have consideration for their citizens. It beats the imagination how we ever expect to achieve what they achieve when such crass inconsideration, impunity and executive arrogance is becoming rampant in government. FRSC in particular has repeatedly launched harebrained schemes like their immensely silly and infantile reflector stickers which prove to be an ill-conceived waste of time and money. The Judgment against FRSC, which makes it clear that they cannot at a whim declare legally registered vehicles illegal, is only commonsense. It is legally, morally and spiritually right. Besides which If Chidoka can just turn around and unilaterally declare legal number plates invalid, then what assurance is there that his successor will not introduce a new more expensive version? After all not only is the present administration notorious for serial breach of trust and confidence of the citizenry, but also this is the second time FRSC is forcing the public to buy new number plates for the same vehicle!
No meaningful justification in terms of improving safety has been given for the new plates, no sensible explanation given for the exorbitant costs, and no assurance given that they will not be changed again in the near future. The whole episode reeks of a visionless lack of concern for citizen’s rights, after all the countries with the safest roads in the world don’t have any special road safety corps. To make matters worse FRSC can only point out the benefits to themselves of the new number plates and not one genuine benefit to the public. There is no focused or serious minded analysis of factors causing high accident rates in the nation, which will bring up the issue of car number plates. The learned Federal High Court Judge may have just saved us all from another round of brutalization and death similar to the immigration job fiasco. Quite apart from acting illegally, the FRSC was about to encourage open discontent and rebellion. They have neither the competence nor the capacity to register all vehicles in the nation within the given time frame. Fights and quarrels involving frustrated citizens break out regularly in FRSC offices. Chidoka should inquire from most states as to the increasing number of public assaults on staff of traffic management agencies. It is no longer an unusual sight to see the public joining in to beat up traffic staff and release seized vehicles. Chidoka is evidently so callous and engrossed in his own self- importance that he is prepared for FRSC staff to be assaulted by irate citizens when they start arresting mothers taking their children to school, commercial drivers trying to earn an honest days’ pay, and all categories of law abiding citizens. The role of our so-called “legislators” in the whole sorry mess must be highlighted. Instead of standing up for the rights of citizens they soiled themselves by actually co-operating with FRSC in the illegality! As for Mr Chidoka, he would do well to try and dispel the widely held belief that all the urgency and unrealistic deadlines arose from suggestion that because he is due to end his terms of office soon, he wants to make sure that he oversees the spending of the billions to be realized.