By Asian Ebong

The traffic warden service, is unarguably one of the creations of late General Murtala Muhammed’s military regime, established with a structural code: THE NIGERIA TRAFFIC WARDEN SERVICE, (TWS), Decree Act of 1975; as a section of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, charged with the task of discharging functions in connection with the control and regulation of,or the enforcement of the law relating to road traffic under the direction of the police.

Interestingly, one can say with a degree of certainty, that in the past few decades, Traffic warden service has virtually fulfilled the purpose to which it was created, functioning optimally in controlling the movement of vehicles plying the roads, educating road users on the need to obey traffic laws among others.

But, the continuous marginalization, discriminatory disparity, stagnation of promotion, poor condition of service, etc meted upon members of  Traffic Warden Service are  perhaps some of the reasons members of TWS have complained bitterly over the years of poor welfare package, unbearable pains and agony, hence, the call for a total reform or an amendment of the obnoxious legal creation establishing Traffic Warden Service.

The funniest part of this very conspicuous demarcation between men of the Nigeria Police Force on general duty and members of traffic warden service, is that both men undergo same field training and spent almost the same duration on training before being commissioned as officers. But, sadly, when it comes to ranking, promotion, renumeration and manning of duty post or office, a deep discriminatory disparity occurs.

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For instance, the promotion of the Traffic Warden and their counterparts in the general duty has been very disturbing. According to an independent investigation, those recruited in 1990,1991, and 1992 , are still wearing the rank of Inspector, after having spent over 33years in service, whereas their general duty counterparts recruited the same year are now Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP.

Similarly, those recruited in year 2000, in the general duty are now ASPs. Equally very pathetic is the fact that members of Traffic Warden recruited in 2007 and 2008, after about two decades in service, still remain at the rank equivalent to sergeant,whereas their counterparts recruited same year in the general duties have all been confirmed Inspectors.

Apart from promotion stagnation policy that is perpetually making  members of the traffic warden  undervalued, psychologically and emotionally traumatized, key officers of the traffic wardens are not free from this excruciating and humiliating marginalization as they are denied offices and departmental duties. For instance, key officers of the traffic warden  are not allowed by the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force to take charge and full responsibility of the Traffic Warden Service, designated duties and offices, like the Divisional Traffic Officer.

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Traffic Warden promoted to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of traffic (DST) are not allowed to take charge: no portfolio, no incentive and they are not allowed to go beyond the rank till retirement. Equally, very disturbing is the way and manner the affairs of Traffic Warden Service is being handled. It’s rather very demoralizing that the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force  on general duty receives salaries and emoluments much fatter than members of the traffic warden service, who shares equivalent rank.

It’s equally very annoying that while their counterparts in the general duty are conducting regular recruitment exercise, it’s pathetic that the Traffic Warden Service have not conducted any recruitment exercise since 2007. This development has however caused the population of serving traffic wardens nationwide to be  drastically reduced. The result of which has brought about untrained civilian volunteers parading themselves on the roads, causing more traffic jam accidents etc. 

It is therefore a welcome development that after years battling to correct the abnormally in the service, President Bola Ahmed TINUBU,has graciously set-up Police Reform Committee. There is therefore a compelling need for members of the Police Reform Committee to bury sentiments and biases and work toward fulfilling the aspirations of Nigerians for a more efficient police force by recommending an amendment or a total repeal of the Act establishing Traffic Wsrden Service, with a view to making Traffic warden service an independent body , free from police supervision.

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In conclusion, in the words of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s The People’s Republic, the venerable pundit puts the situation very clear to Nigerian leaders for their guidance in a time like this: “It is common knowledge that no partnership or club, or human association of any kind will last for a long time, if its affairs are conducted in such a manner as to benefit only a few of it’s members”.

 In view of the above, it is therefore my observation that since the association of the aforementioned bodies have not been able to accommodate the interest and sensibilities of all sections, it should be holistically reviewed or repealed. But, if justice and equity form part of the renewed hope agenda of Mr. President, it is my thinking that critical stakeholders in President Bola Ahmed TINUBU-led administration, including the Nigerian Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, National Security Adviser (NSA) Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman, Police Service Commission; Mr. Solomon Arase, Inspector General of Police and others should no longer bury their heads in the sand like the ostrich over this very important burning issue.

The age-long advocacy for the amendment or a total repeal of this obnoxious legal creation establishing Traffic Warden Service, remains a task that must be done.

A stitch in time saves nine !