Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (right behind) in a group photograph with winners of the 2014 Be Road Friendly (BRF) Competition, Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye (2nd right), her Transportation counterpart, Mr. Kayode Opeifa (left) and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Oluseyi Coker (right) during the finals of the 2014 Be Road Friendly (BRF) Competition organized by the Ministry of Transportation’s Lagos State Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja, on Tuesday, July 10, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Tuesday, 10th June, 2014, attended the finals of the 2014 Be Road Friendly Competition stating that the School Traffic Safety Advocacy programme represents a potent tool in building the infrastructure of the mind.
The Governor who spoke at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, venue of the Fifth anniversary of the Be Road Friendly Competition (BRF), said that the programme is not just a competition but represents the best infrastructure that the state can build.
He noted that whilst the government could build halls, bridges and highways, such infrastructure don’t save lives themselves as only committed and reformed people would put them to work.
He explained that the programme is about building infrastructure in the mind which is manifesting in the form of contributions made by past winners as members of the parliament who already have great infrastructure built in their minds.
“Getting the mind of the people ready is the hardest job any government can have. I call it building infrastructure of the mind. It is the toughest to build. It is persuasion and consensus building that it is possible, let us do it”, he stressed.
Fashola expressed joy at seeing the past winners at the event, saying he was very happy and sees them maturing physically and mentally and assured that the state will definitely benefit from their experience in future, as it will be safer and better managed.
He noted that the children are sending a message about the responsibility on the roads which is the aim of the government in bringing about the programme, adding that it is not about the old people who are already in their comfort zones and find it difficult to change.
He reiterated that for the past five years the participants at the various yearly editions have told the old ones to act more responsibly by putting on their seat belts, using pedestrian footbridges and control speeding.
While recalling the central message of the visual presentation of the winning group which focused on the tragedy caused by a father who overran his son on a zebra crossing line, the Governor stated that there is a need to observe speed limits when driving and also to stop driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
“For me it is no longer about the children and what lies in the future. This message has already been internalized by the children and it is for you and I to listen more to them and learn from what they already know.
“This is the face of the Lagos educational policy where children of all beliefs are bound by one common cause by building strength from their diversity and that the state is committed to improving education by starting with the children”, he added.
He informed that on Monday, 9th June, 2014, he held a meeting with leaders of various transport unions in the state on how to make the roads safer and stop articulated vehicles and tankers from exploding and killing innocent people on the road.
“Mind you, it is not the children that are responsible for the carnage on our roads. We should listen to them and act responsibly. The children are saying they want this to stop and we should heed their call”, he added.
He explained that the concept of the competition was changed this year to make the children work as a team and imbibe the culture of people coming together to explore the strength in their diversity.
Fashola also asked people to visualize the possibility of driving in Lagos without the indiscriminate blaring of horns from anywhere, adding that in Europe, he has experienced over 10 days without horns on the highways when he travelled.
He stressed that it is a matter of what the people decide to do, because the refusal to use a horn by motorists at any particular time would not prevent him from reaching his destination.
“Anybody who says something is impossible is only making an excuse for not trying. They once said we cannot have streetlights at night in Lagos but we now have it. They also said that we cannot have traffic lights and that Lagosians would not obey them, but everything that they said is impossible is now possible.
“When I assumed office, no one believed a public office holder could operate without using siren but I have demonstrated that it is possible. Seven years after, I have not used siren. It is possible for us to have a horn free day, a horn free month, a horn free year and possibly a horn free state”, he added.
He commended the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) for the wonderful job they are doing, adding that if there is any change in the infrastructure mindset of the children, it is the LASTMA operatives who have been training them that should get the credit.
He said several of the LASTMA operatives have lost limbs, been deformed while some have even paid the supreme price, adding that they represent the true heroes of his in the state because keeping traffic moving in Lagos is one of the wonders of the world with the limited infrastructure in place.
The Governor also commended the state Ministry of Education and all the agencies of the ministry who have been partnering the transportation ministry in organizing the advocacy programme for a job well done.
Alluding to the testimony given by one of parents of the winners of past editions of the competition who testified that she never imagined that one day her child would be able to have the opportunity of travelling overseas with the children of the rich and privileged, the Governor declared: “Those poor people are my elites, they are the people I serve”.
Speaking earlier, the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa said the Be Road Friendly Competition is all about the future generation of the state and the nation and how they can be change agents.
He added that in another year, when the Governor looks back, he should be able to say thank God, he initiated the programme five years ago, because of the gains that have been made from the yearly competition.
The competition was won by Team C which comprised of six pupils from different schools namely Aderayo Awotundun, Ademola Opeyemi, Michael Adedayo, Koredele Nelson, Macaulay Oluwasegun and Olusi Munirat and whose theme was safety on the roads which they backed up with graphic illustrations.
The event was attended by members of the State Executive Council including the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye; the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Special Duties, Dr Deremi Desalu; and Transportation, Mr Oluseyi Coker; as well as pupils and teachers from the participating schools in the state.