By Ikhili Ebalu, Benin City
A frontline Edo State politician, Mr. Joseph Ikpea has cautioned against giving legal backing to the arming of the members of the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC).
Ikpea’s call is coming on the heels of the renewed clamor for members of the FRSC to bear arms.
The move is being spearheaded by some prominent Nigerians who have mounted pressure on the National Assembly nudging it to legalize the bearing of arms by the Corp members.
Ikpea, considered to be one of the leading guber aspirants on the platform of the opposition APC in Edo State, said he is a bit uneasy about the proposal to arm the FRSC, saying the country is already reeling from the proliferation of arms and that adding the FRSC would become too unwieldy to control
He expressed his views publicly in an open letter addressed to the Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and also made available to the press.
According to him, the proposition for members of the FRSC to bear arms is baseless and not likely to add any economic or social value to the country
He posited further that rather than dissipate energy on the weak and lazy debate as to the rightness or wrongness of allowing FRSC members to bear arms, the DC as well as mop up the arms in the hands of non-state actors
He further submitted that the country is at a crossroads and needs to deal decisively with the constant threats posed by insecurity to national unity and cohesion
He said, “As a nation, we look up to the government for protection and safety. Non-state actors are wielding arms as well as using them to oppress the ordinary citizens. This already constitutes a serious threat. Therefore, the call for the arming of the FRSC is grossly misplaced. Whatever quarter such calls emanate from, they must cease because we are confronted by the proliferation of arms of various sizes and should not be thinking of adding to our woes.
” Legalizing the bearing of firearms for another federal agency, like the FRSC, which is presumed to be civil and also operates in a democratic setting, is tantamount to further militarizing the polity. What Nigeria and Nigerians need most is not an increase in the number of arms-bearing agencies but a rebirth in the values and ethics of our national institutions to make them civil in the way they relate with the citizens”
He also canvassed strict enforcement of the existing traffic laws by the FRSC, insisting that allowing them to bear arms would be one aggression too many for the pauperized motorists and commuters who have suffered so much at the hands of gun-brandishing security officers.
Ikpea noted that it is unfortunate that most big men do not use the roads to be able to know what their drivers and other commuters pass through in the hands of government security agencies.
He insisted the primary aim of the FRSC is to educate road users on safe driving but the quest for pecuniary gains has made them shove aside these lofty ideals, adding if the lobby for the FRSC to carry arms is to buoy up government revenue, one should then demand that the government should come clean by publicly declaring how much revenue the FRSC was able to rake in for the government in the last four or so years.
Ikpea did not mince words in condemning the call for the arming of the FRSC, saying it is akin to declaring a total war on the hapless and innocent Nigerians who have over the years borne the brunt of the misdemeanor by FRSC members.