“Motorists Think I’m Wicked”: A Day In The Life Of A Road Safety Officer

August 4, 2020

“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week.

The subject for today’s “A Week In The Life” is a Federal Road Safety Officer. He talks about why refusing bribes from motorists sometimes cause him problems and why his children and corruption are reasons he can’t wait to take on a senior role at directorate level.

4:30 am – 6:00 am:

I wake up by 4:30 am every day. The first thing I usually do is prepare the kids for school. Thankfully, school is not in session so I don’t have to do that today. I  have my bath and rush out. I’m rushing because morning parade starts at 6 am and I must not miss it. The parade is where we touch base and discuss our plans for the day. Missing it is a punishable offence. Without traffic, it takes about 25 minutes to get to the office. However, with traffic, the journey takes as long as two hours. It’s still early when I leave the house so there are no bikes to take me to the bus stop. This means that I have to trek which is another journey in itself. Thankfully, I don’t have to stay long at the bus stop before I find a vehicle to carry me to work. I arrive at work, change into my uniform and make it just in time for the parade. 

At the parade, our supervisors address us, assign us to various duties and my day officially begins. I’m in operations and this involves supervising motorists and helping out in emergency response, so my team and I hit the road to start work. 

7:00 am – 12 noon:

Every work or duty whether it’s an artisan or white-collar has their peculiarities. Something that makes the work difficult to do. In my case, it’s the psyche of the motorists. It’s a  big challenge because Nigerians have normalized bad behaviour. We know the country is bad and all, but you are not meant to drive on the road without a valid driver’s license. The funny thing is that it doesn’t cost a lot to do – You get the temporary license online, and in sixty days time, you get a permanent copy. However, my country people prefer to go on the road and give someone ₦2,000 – ₦3,000 just to scale through without a license. At the end of the day, they end up giving people this money more than 12 times a year thereby spending more than they would have spent to just do the license. 

When I stop a motorist and let them see the reasons why they should not depend on bribing an officer, they keep asking: Who be this one, wetin dis one dey try to prove? Are you not a Nigerian? 

They see me as irrational or unreasonable because I don’t behave like every other person. In fact, they think I’m wicked, heartless, and I don’t want to help them. Sometimes it turns into a quarrel and they rally a crowd to sympathize with them. It gets tricky here because Nigerians have a thing against uniformed people. Once there’s public sentiment, most people side the motorist who is actually an offender because they don’t buy your story. Road safety officer that doesn’t want to collect money? [haha]. Then I’ll start hearing you for don leave am. You for don collect. It then becomes a dilemma because how are we going to make things right?

As I am battling the work front, there are also family members. They either call asking for my help when they break road traffic laws or they need someone to help them process a driver’s license. I keep telling them that we have to start making things right and we can do things the right way. We must not do things the wrong way. After all my talk, they still don’t get it and tomorrow, they’ll still ask me to either beg for them or introduce someone to help them.

They don’t get it. Neither does the majority of the force. The officers who get it are not enough to change the image of the force but we still try. Sigh.

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm:

I booked a man driving a Tundra for an offence this afternoon. He was driving without a seat belt and was eating. To make matters worse, his car papers were not up to date. After explaining and begging, I booked him for driving without a seat belt and also impounded his car. I explained to him that he had to update his papers for his own safety and for the safety of other road users. Eventually, he came to collect his car and his wife drove him down. He asked to see me and he introduced me to his wife. His wife, a consultant in a big teaching hospital said he was just praising my professionalism. After retrieving his car, we exchanged contacts and I promised to visit.

Moments like this make me happy because it shows that some people appreciate me. I remember another incident where I stopped a road user and after a severe warning, I let him go. The next time I ran into him was at the hospital when I went for scaling and polishing. It turned out that he was the head dentist there and he remembered me. So, I got special treatment and he ended up sorting my fees which I know was not cheap. Sometimes, I wonder that if I had collected ₦2,000 from him on the road, would he have given me the same treatment?

Corruption is a cycle that affects all of us. We live in normal houses [not barracks] like regular people. We go to the same hospital as regular people. Our children go to regular schools too. If an officer takes money from a motorist that’s a doctor, the doctor will try to make it back and may inflate their own fees. Then let’s say a policeman goes to the doctor and can’t afford the fees, the policeman goes on the road to try to make the money and your guess is as good as mine… It’s an endless cycle that hurts everyone.

4:00pm – 6:00 pm:

I get off work by 6 pm. That’s when people on night patrol take over. On some days, they come early to relieve us, so I use that opportunity to pick my kids from school. That bonding time with daddy is important to me. It’s good to let them have a change from mummy coming to pick them; time spent with family is precious. I can’t wait till I actually have more time to spend with my kids. This means that I have to keep growing in my career, I must not be stagnated. I can’t afford to miss a promotion. The only way I’ll have more time is to get in a senior role at maybe directorate level. Then,  I’ll have more time for my kids and I can also make recommendations for change in the force. Because our agency is under the presidency and there are so many stratum and chains of command, it’s only at that level that your input really counts.

Until that time, all I can do is count down till 6 pm when I get off work. I’ll keep working to get there because, at my level, I can’t change a thing – I’m still what the Igbo people call boy-boy.

Editors note: FRSC images were taken randomly from the internet as the interview was done anonymously.


Boy-boy: Someone that runs errands for other people.

Check back every Tuesday by 9 am for more “A Week In The Life ” goodness, and if you would like to be featured or you know anyone who fits the profile, fill this form.

Hassan Yahaya

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

March 30, 2020

What’s your biggest fear? Snakes? Death? His biggest fear is not a person or people, it’s a system, a culture. What’s your oldest memory of money? My mummy took me and my brother to this park, which was close to where we lived. After riding one of their motors, I wanted to go again and […]


Now on Zikoko

November 24, 2020

The area now known as Nigeria is home to over 350 different tribes. Many of these tribes, some of which date back several centuries before colonization, boasted of several artefacts and monument. Sadly, colonization meant the loss of many of these artefacts, which were flung all over the world. For example, the British conquest of […]

UK Sanctions Nigeria
November 24, 2020

Yesterday, November 24th 2020, the UK parliament, at the Westminister Hall debated e-petition 554150, relating to Nigeria and the sanctions regime. The debate was led by Theresa Villiers MP, and it suggested sanctions for members of the Nigerian Government and police officers who have been involved in human rights abuses. The parliamentary debate has generated […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

More from Hustle

November 17, 2020

“A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week. The subject for today’s “A Week In The Life” is *Tola. He collects […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.