Brain Waste in Civil Service: Case Study of LASTMA, A way forward!

Abiodun Awosanya
It is pertinent to call our indulgence to an ailment that kills a knowledgeable personality exponentially fast. This ailment destroys his brain, thereby destroys every components of his daily life. The ailment is brain dysfunction. If it is true that the brain is the principal component of human body system, when it is underused, it will definitely have a diverse effect in the body system. His contributions to his social environment, in all spheres, will absolutely have negative effect. In other words, just as economy is super structure in every human society, from the perspective of Auguste Comte’s organismic, the brain is also a super structure in every human body system.

In a nutshell, when the brain does not pass through an exercise set by the mind, the body will not perform to make positive impact at its best. This is a case of Civil Service, and in the end, nobody is expected to be blamed but the same social system itself. Quite a number of those that are employed into the civil service are outstanding people with beautiful brain. However, their functioning manner of expertise geometrically reduces due to underutilization of their brain in their area of specialization by the system in which they render service. This practice is nothing but brain waste.

Prior to the period I was employed and deployed to Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, there was a preconceived notion by people generally, that LASTMA personnel are not adequately informed or Schooled, not educated, ill-educated but mere vagrant or vagabond who enforce aggressively. Till date, people are still seeing LASTMA operational staff on the road as a definition of tout. The thought was that Lagos State intentionally recruits area boys to sanitize inappropriateness on Lagos roads. While I have never been arrested with my personal vehicle, I have witnessed the operation of the traffic officials through the public transportation service. I was never enlightened to know how educated the officers might be. I was totally wrong, to be blunt.

The first shock I had was my first appearance ever in 2016 at the agency headquarters in Ilupeju-Oshodi, Lagos. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, through the Civil Service Commission, employed 1,500 traffic officials which I happened to be one of the beneficiaries, and we were to go for our documentation as fresh employees. When it was my batch’s turn, we were almost thirty (30) fresh personnel in the hall.

There was a colleague sitting next to me rearranging his credentials. I got to know that he had already Master in Business Administration (MBA). I was marveled. What is this one here for? One thing led to another, and I later discovered that there were five (5) people in that hall including myself with 2nd degree but not employed with the qualification. Wonderful! I had to start imagining if it was peculiar to the set of officials in our set. For that too, I was wrong.
The second shock was the period I was deployed to Zonal jurisdiction of Ajegunle/Apapa, a very volatile area where the services of traffic officials are not well appreciated. The commuters’ attitudes on the roads are highly discouraging due to their resistance to traffic laws, and any attempt to compel them usually result to violence and chaos.

This zone was where I met a zonal head, now commander, Mr. Aladesida, who is highly principled with constructive ideas. The second in command, otherwise known as Alpha (Operational Head) Mr. Rasheed Anifowose, now zonal head, can only be defined as a man of integrity with unique attribute in relations to the law enforcement, traffic control and road management. I was keened to investigate on the academic background of these two principal officers.

It marveled me when I got to know that none of these two gentlemen has less than one postgraduate qualification. There is other gentle man at the engineering unit, logistic department named Engr. Ariyo. With two postgraduate degrees, Mr. Ariyo is now a doctorate student. It will not of course be completed without mentioning Mr. Ayo Oshintimeyin, Director, Traffic Management and Survey Department who not by chance earned the highest number of degrees in the agency including Masters in Traffic control and management.
Therefore, the LASTMA of early period was embodied by people of strong academic background as operational and administrative heads. Though, the operation was not civil, even though the attitude of commuters, especially the commercial motorists does not require civility because as discussed earlier, nobody on the surface on earth likes to be controlled. Yet, special thanks to the governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode for the infiltration and injection of civility amidst the traffic control agents in traffic management and traffic law enforcement. The new face of LASTMA therefore begins since the governor employed into the civil service commission people of strong academic background constituting more of first degree.
It was very much understandable that many people had to consider joining civil service through the massive recruitment of traffic enforcement personnel by the Lagos State government, under the auspice of Governor Ambode, for the purpose of having means of livelihood to put their body and soul together, and not to fulfill their career ambition. How do you describe a certified chattered accountant considering joining traffic management authority if not for mere survival and lack of enough opportunity to explore their true ability in their area of specialization. In addition, someone with background in Sociology and demography who is well equipped with collection and usage of data for policy formulation is unable to practice his discipline. That’s me!

To be bluntly, such an officer ordinarily does not have to agitate for his redeployment because he was employed in the first place as traffic officer. Nevertheless, personally I believe since traffic operation is a special department saddled with the responsibility to directly deal with road users, and that there are no enough personnel with background in transport management, people have to be converted to traffic control officers without considering their educational background to help them secure employment. However, there are some people who would love to practice what they learn in school, and who would showcase their best in their various field of study.

As a result of the incorporation of people who are without the knowledge of traffic control management into the traffic control system, the officers dumped their educational background for the service of humanity on the road, and this brings about brain waste within the agency. Generally, brain waste is a situation whereby an emigrant is placed on a low level of job not in commensurate with his educational qualification or skills. In this context however, brain waste is a condition where a skilled employed person or a specialist is placed in a field against his educational background or skills. For instance, when a banker accepts a job meant for a teacher, the indication is that the person in question wants food on his table for his survival. This is a brain waste on the side of both the employee and employer because the banker is not equipped with the basics of knowledge inculcation and dissemination. He is denied of the opportunity to explore in his area of specialization.

I had an encounter with some individuals who are originally officers of the Lagos State Transportation Authority (LASTMA), and I was marveled with their intellectual embodiments. Few of these individuals includes Mr. Ayo Oshintimeyin of Traffic Management and Survey Department (TMSD), Mr. Oki Bakare of Quarter Master General (QMG), Mr. Ajiboso of Provost Department, Mr. Amusa of Safety Department, Mr. Uthman of Traffic Mayor, Mr. Oshodi Jubril of Echo command, and engr. Ariyo of Engineering Department who doubles as the assistant Logistics Department. These individuals are well learned and schooled. They are part of those who convinced me that there are differences in learning, schooling and being educated. They are of a combination of the three, I must assert.

However, these individuals are, in my own opinion, not placed at the department at where they will explore in full their specialization skills, but though are able to make impact not only because their educational qualifications but also their intellectual sagacity, except engr. Ariyo Kunle. It is therefore a high time people of high qualifications are reckoned with in relations to their area of concentration. If your presence and knowledge as an entity is not felt at where you belong, but you are only for self-developmental capacity and economic power, you need to be well grounded with proper enlightenment about self-worth. This of course contributes to the wise saying that, if you are to educate a family, educate a man, but to educate a nation, give woman education. Our reflection as a person of what we are makes us an influence and encouragement to others.

Way forward!
If we only live for ourselves, our separate world will not move beyond our reach, but if we live also for others, to learn from us, we are building a separate world worth celebrated by the people we build their career. It is high time we started reflecting with what we know. No competition. No one is expected to, and indeed no one is competing with anyone’s academic qualifications. The more you give, the more you have (Not necessarily the more you get). The more you impact knowledge, the more you know, and the more blessings you receive from above.

There should be a platform through which people interact not only within a unit, department but within the respective agency with individual’s possessed qualities. Whatever information you have, information is powerful, there should be an avenue is it disseminated. As big as LASTMA is, being the agency with highest labor strength, it is understandable that the primary objective is paramount and should not be swerved, it should not be underestimated that the more it is organized, the more it will be objectively and positively labeled by external bodies.
Therefore, aside of the main objective, there are other extra-objective moves expected of every organization to either develop his workers, strengthens the populace, or the combination of the two. Workers are developed in various manners including those ones who will positively help in achieving the organization’s mission and that of ones to protect them from dangers attached to the nature of their job.

Ultimately, the best impact any organization could make in terms of human development is the build of human capacities, aiming at assisting others while still not deviating from the organization’s main objectives. In other words, it is not a bad idea if a platform is created which is all encompassing in civil service delivery, and by so doing in a short run, it is optimistic that this will rapidly help in the core mission of the agency. This is why I will suggest a journal.

Though, as ambiguous as it may seems, streamlining the word “journal” for conceptualization, in this context, it is a record of organizational events or business. It could be in form of diary or other periodicals. Journal should not be seen as a material for educational institutions. It is a periodical for enlightening, educating, and exposing a particular population to events unique to their department. In this periodical, ideas are explored on different areas of human endeavors.

Considering the activities of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, as a problem solving agency particularly in the area of ensuring free flow of traffic within the state, journal has become unavoidable and inevitable to bring the ideas of expatriate and knowledgeable people within and outside the agency in proffering solutions to existing traffic issues as well as predicting the future of traffic condition within the state. The content of this LASTMA journal should be targeted at operational officers, the Heads of Department especially the operational Heads, the motorists, and the entire populace within this state.

More explanatorily, the journal will encompass the officers’ module-operandi, the operational head’s challenges at the zones, their proffering solutions to these challenges, exploration of ideas to improve on the functions of the agency, enlightenment and educating the motorists on offenses that attracts fines. The periodicals is expected to serve as guide and template for possible solution on traffic issues useful for all officers, principal officers, the management as well as the state government.

In addition, in this journal, yearly summary of vital cases and their vital records should be included. Vital cases, including accidents and vehicular breakdowns in all the zonal jurisdictions obstructing the free flow of traffic are expected to be made available from time to time and be included in the journal, not only for the use of the agency and state government for future plan on the agency, but also for the use of researchers to measure the performance of the agency and the state government in general.

More importantly, to be included in this journal is a thorough enlightenment of the general public and road users on traffic laws and offenses. It is observed that some of the attitudes of road users are to avoid traffic rules are due to lack of information.

Therefore, information on these traffic laws and offenses which are most avoided by commuters should be incorporated in the journal. Also, the processes involved in payment of fines should be included. Ideas on how to foster a good interpersonal relationship between motorists and traffic officials should be revealed in the periodicals.

Abiodun Awosanya

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