Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Monday re-opened the debate on Nigerian federalism and what should be on the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution by questioning the powers of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to manage traffic within the territory of any state.
Fashola, who made his position known in Lagos House, Ikeja, where he received the new FRSC Sector Commander, Lagos State Command, Mr. Nseobong Akpabio, stated that the agency lacked the powers under the laws of the country to take up the responsibilities for traffic management within the territory on any state.
Item 63 under the Second Schedule of the constitution provides that the Federal Government shall have legislative powers over federal trunk roads only.
Speaking at the reception, Fashola expressed the state government’s readiness to work with the FRSC Lagos State Command, but added that the relationship would be defined within the ambit of established laws of the country.
According to him, “Let me make it very clear that I am prepared to work with you. But our relationship is not defined by us. It is defined by law, and therefore we must work within the ambit of the law that defines our relationship.” He explained that the primary rationale for which the federal traffic management agency “exists is to ensure safety, but on which road?”
“This is an area I have been having some difficulties with and my position has been misconceived. I believe within the territory of any state, it is the state government by the law of this country that has responsibilities for traffic management within its municipal area.
“It does not mean we cannot collaborate in some areas like testing of drivers. It does not mean we cannot collaborate in sharing knowledge about some of those black spots. But it is not acceptable by law for FRSC to come within the territory of any state and manage traffic. You cannot, I am sorry. It is not my opinion. It is the law of this country.
“In the same way, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority cannot go to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and manage traffic because that is FRSC’s jurisdiction. Sometimes, I see some FRSC officers on inner-city roads and I ask myself: Is this part of their duty? I do not know. I wish to know. But you cannot see LASTMA on Lagos-Ibadan and Benin-Shagamu Expressways.
"These are real issues. Like I said, we are ready to work with you but we have to work by the rules and laws that regulate our relationship,” Fashola said.
But Akpabio, who was at the Lagos House with other top officers of FRSC on a courtesy visit, pledged the support of the corps officers to ensure that the new Lagos State Road Traffic Law, which the governor signed into law last Thursday, is effectively enforced.