During his first tenure as Governor of Gombe state, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwabo embarked on a number of road safety-related projects to address the chaotic traffic situation of the state. Some of such projects include the construction of traffic lights at some strategic junctions in the state capital, establishment of state traffic management agency, construction of bypass roads and commencement of construction of a modern trailer bay in the state while maintaining a robust relationship with the FRSC.
In the process of commissioning the traffic light project in 2013, Dankwabo saw the need to involve the FRSC, by inviting the former Corps Marshal, Osita Chidoka to join him in unveiling the project. And in the course of the visit, the Governor who has been rightly described as “Road Safety Friendly,” was invested as the patron of special marshals in the state, while the FRSC Estate constructed by the Staff Cooperative Scheme and named after the former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Ms Amma Pepple was equally commissioned by the Governor. These activities set the tone for a stronger collaboration between the FRSC and the Gombe state government, culminating in the recent advocacy visit of Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi to the state between November 4 and 6.
As his plane touched down at the Gombe Airport, the first point of his visit was the Amma Pepple Housing Estate, where Oyeyemi inspected the facilities and expressed satisfaction with the level of success being recorded in the “one staff, one house” project under construction across the country. From there, the convoy drove straight to the Gombe State Sector Command of the FRSC, where the Corps Marshal inspected the Quarter Guard mounted by the staff before addressing the officers and marshals on the parade.
Shortly after the Corps Marshal’s address, he inspected the facilities at the command, before his entourage headed to the Government House Gombe, where Governor Dankwabo received him with the full complement of members of his State Executive Council including the Deputy Governor. It was commendation galore for the two leaders as each eulogised other’s contributions to the development of road safety in the state and the country at large.
While the Corps Marshal praised the Governor for his road safety initiatives, the Governor on the other hand, applauded the Corps Marshal for his untiring efforts at ensuring safety on the nation’s highways through his aggressive campaigns across the country
Before leaving the Government House, Oyeyemi presented a souvenir of new Special Marshals’ Regalia to the Governor to replace the one with which he was decorated as the Patron two years ago. And in solidarity with the road safety campaign, the Governor gave assurances that he would join the Corps Marshal at the Palace of the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu AbubakraII, where the traditional ruler was would be decorated as an honorary member of the special Marshals along some prominent indigenes of the state.
The Palace reception in honour of the Corps Marshal was warm and tumultuous, laced with cultural fiesta stated by the traditional titleholders, the drummers, the trumpeters as well as praise singers who were struggling to get noticed. In fact, no space was left unoccupied in the large compound, as everyone struggled to be part of the occasion in which the number one traditional ruler of the state would be decorated with the special marshals’ Regalia as an honorary member in the full glare of the spectators.
The ceremony commenced in earnest as soon as Governor Dankwabo arrived with members of his entourage with the decoration of the Emir, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the Secretary to the state government taking turns under an atmosphere of excitement and intermittent beating of drums. The Emir was so overwhelmed by the investiture that he announced excitedly that all indigenes of Gombe state have by the event become honorary members of road safety in the state, a declaration that attracted loud jubilation from the excited crowd.
It was celebration galore after the ceremony with beating of the drums renting the air, but the Corps Marshal immediately retired to his lodge to prepare for another campaign trip to Kaltungo town the next day to meet the traditional ruler, Mai Kaltungo, Alhaji Sale Mohammed, who is also the Vice Chairman of Gombe State Traditional Council.
The about two and half hours journey to the ancient town was moving on smoothly, until the convoy came to a sudden halt at the border town where a welcome party led by the Chairmen of Kaltungo and Shomgom Local Government Councils had lined up waiting to receive and usher the Corps Marshal into the town reminiscent of heroic welcome.
After the brief ceremony, which involved introducing the selected indigenes of the town that formed the file, the motorcade drove straight to the Palace, where the Mai Kaltungo, was already seated with all members of his traditional council waiting anxiously to receive the August visitor. Some members of the entourage, who were wondering how the traditional ruler would received the Corps Marshal were amazed when he excitedly embraced him so warmly that one would mistake them for twin brothers who have been waiting for years to meet each other.
Evidence of excitement was conspicuously written on the faces of the people of the community, who had gathered in large number to catch a glimpse of the visitor they referred to as, “the king of the road.” The Corps Marshal himself demonstrated his appreciation for the warn reception accorded him when he stated that he was overwhelmed, promising to reciprocate the kind gestures by continue to contribute his quota to the safety and security of the entire people of Nigeria. In his own remarks, the traditional ruler commended Oyeyemi for his hardworking nature and unparalleled commitment to issues of road safety not only in Nigeria, but the West African sub-region at large, adding that his relationship with him dated back to about ten years ago when he served as the Zonal Commanding officer for Zone 3 Yola, under which Gombe state falls.
At the end of the colourful reception at the Palace, which was punctuated by the sound of drums and the artistic display by the trumpeters, the Corps Marshal’s convoy drove to the venue of the new driver’s licence centre, which was billed for commissioning. The Chairman of Kaltungo Local Government, Alhaji Abubakar Dan-Zaria, who welcomed the guests to the ceremony, described the occasion as another demonstration of the commitment of the FRSC to the safety and security of the people of the community, pledging the support of the Local council to the success of the safer roads campaign by the FRSC.
On the other hand, Oyeyemi in his remarks before commissioning the centre assured the people of the area of his commitment to addressing all the challenges facing efficient licensing system in the country through decentralisation and maximum application of technological tools. He however, urged the stakeholders to collaborate with the FRSC in the area of provision of security.
After the commissioning ceremony, the Corps Marshal retired to his lodge, till at about 8 o’clock in the evening, when he was again hosted by the traditional ruler to a cultural fiesta and traditional cuisine with all the popular musicians in the area coming out to enthusiastically display their talents and singing latest songs in promotion of road safety and its leadership. In fact, everyone present at the culturally packed ceremony agreed that the honour done to the Corps Marshal through the lavish display of people’s hospitality was well deserved, and that the hospital attitude of the people reflected the high esteem with which the traditional ruler holds the FRSC boss and how the people generally view the contributions of the FRSC men to safety and security of the area.
Before departing the town the second day, Oyeyemi took time to visit the Kaltungo Unit Command of the FRSC, where he commended the staff for their commitment to issues of road safety, assuring them of his commitment to the policy of staff welfare. The two day visit was rounded off with the Corps Marsha’s farewell’s visit to the Palace of Mai Kaltungo where the traditional ruler reassured him of the commitment of his people to issues of road safety, with the words of the traditional ruler marking the end of the highly rewarding advocacy visit.
But before hitting the road for a return trip to Abuja, the Corps Marshal was taken to the location of the large expanse of land donated by the Local Council for construction of the FRSC’s facilities in the community. It was, indeed, a visit that left nostalgic feelings among members of the Corps Marshal’s entourage. These feelings were summarised by the Zonal Commanding Officer, Zone 3, Yola, Assistant Corps Marshal Abdullahi Ringim and the Gombe State Sector Commander, Corps Commander Ayobami Omiyale who stated in their remarks that the FRSC staff and generality of the people of the state would remain grateful to the Corps Marshal for the visit.
According to them, the visit assisted greatly in spreading the message of road safety and creation of awareness to the points that had not been explored before. They therefore, pledged to sustain the campaign and build on the foundation laid, especially among the generality of people of the state, who have by the involvement of their governor and the traditional rulers in road safety campaigns been convinced of their role stakeholders in road safety matters.
•Sani Abdullahi, Superintendent Route Commander was in the entourage of the Corps Marsha
– Sani Abdullahi