Emotional Intelligence, Perception Of The Public, And LASTMA

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Emotional Intelligence, Perception Of The Public, And LASTMA

By AWOSANYA, Abiodun R.

The Akinwunmi Ambode led administration in Lagos State has been employing civility in its governance, especially in laws enforcement. The inquisitiveness on whether or not Lagos State populace needs such a beautiful treatment is entirely another line of argument considering the high heterogeneity of the people in terms of the diverse socio-cultural background of the in inhabitants.

However, if the people of Nigeria could yearn for democracy over military system of government, then the Governor’s action of imbibing civility in the enforcement of traffic laws is doing more good than harm to motorists in Lagos State. Thus, it does not appear that the governor has bad intention for the introduction of non-stringent penalty on traffic laws offenders. Having established this, the question that disturbs a rational thinker is “how civil are the operational officers?”

Before dwelling on the civility of officers, it is important to note that, in the cause of ensuring the motorists are well treated, the General Manager, LASTMA, is also applying a commendable technique in dealing with wayward operational officers. Instead of dismissal, suspension or HOP of salaries of wayward officers, any officer who has been held down in JERUSALEM at the LASTMA headquarters for months would have realized that the place is not meant for an honorable officer. It is not a prison. You are allowed to go and eat, to attend mosque as a Muslim, you can even sleep if you want, but you will definitely not want to be there once again. The surveillance and provost teams are doing a great job too. While higher authority in LASTMA is being commended for its efforts to apply nimble penalty on rebellious officers, a lot need to be corrected among the operational officers when it comes to emotions and manners of social interactions on the road. This is why emotional intelligence is mandatory needed to be applied.

Unambiguously, Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflicts. In other words, it is an ability to manage others’ emotions. It indicates a lack of emotional intelligence. Individuals with low quotient of emotional intelligence have particular difficulty in reacting to others’ negative reactions. Many officers are not conscious of their attitudes on the field nor are they conscious they are representatives of the state. If applying emotional intelligence is necessary on the road, then many factors should be taken into consideration.

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to be considered in delivering it. These are self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social skills. To be emotionally intelligent, one needs to be self-aware to know his weaknesses and strengths. Secondly, he needs to stay in control; do not make verbal attack on anyone; and do not haste to make emotional decision. Thirdly, you do not just only set goals, you make those goals of high standards. Fourthly, to be emotionally intelligent, one needs to have the ability to put oneself in someone else’s situation. Finally, you cannot be a great communicator without having social skills. When you have social skill, you will be able to manage conflict diplomatically.

In a clearer dimension, operational officers often make mistake of neglecting observation of culprits or offenders on the road. It is pertinent to note that the primary purpose of inflicting penalty on law violators is to reduce criminal acts to the barest minimum, since crime cannot be totally eliminated in any society. Thus, in the cause of embarking on mission to reduce crime, which prompts law enforcement, it is obvious that traffic officers are not doing more than enforcement to help traffic laws offenders. Quite a numbers of traffic law violators have emotional issues, and all they need is counseling. It will be nice enough to hear them out even if they will still lawfully pay for their offense. Some road users unknowingly commit avoidable traffic offense. Though, there is no ignorance at the court of law, still they need social help. Imagine a road user who did not obey traffic light indicator, and his vehicle is impounded. Who knows whether he just received a job termination letter? A close study of such a traffic law violator will expose his state of mind, and might further save him of committing suicide. In psychology, there is a radical defense mechanism termed “displaced aggression” in which anger is expressed towards someone who is not the cause of the anger. Most of the operational officers are not emotionally balanced, and it is logical that it is not easy to be considering the volatility nature of Lagos motorists, especially the yellow bus drivers, hence, the need to apply emotional intelligence.

The name “LASTMA officer” on the road to an ordinary Lagos road user had been generally labeled to be an aggressive communicator, who dresses shabbily, and who by any available chance extort motorists. This is the perception of the public, and it does not objectively define who a true LASTMA Operational officer is, though people are good at generalizing, and there is an adage that says bad news is more easily spread than good ones. And the fact that no one likes to be controlled makes people go their way to frustrate the efforts of law enforcement agents.

However, an adage also says “out of every twelve, there is always a Judas”. There exists no perfectly sane society. According to Thomas Hobbes, every man is an enemy to every man. He argues explicitly that consequences of an attitude of man make the life of man solitary, poor, nasty and short. In other words, in the course of fighting indiscipline, law enforcement agents are hated by law breakers, and as mentioned earlier, since everybody wants to live a free life in free world, nobody wants his inner instinct to be controlled by any external instinct.

At this juncture, one must commend some operational officers who are very diligent at their duty. These officers are well composed and organized. Their emotional intelligence level is impressive. One of these officers is a Traffic Officer II, AMOO IBEREAYO of Victoria Island (Zone 9) who was given an award by Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB Nigeria) in October, 2017 for a job well done.

According to source, this officer is not only seen very neat while on duty, but always composed in speech and actions. He is never seen engaging in corrupt practice. His emotion is stable. His communication skill is impressive, and he controls traffic with passion. This is to show that there are numerous officers on the road who are passionate with their job, well representing the State, and are trying their best to meet up with public expectation.

Thank You and Happy New Year to You All.


AWOSANYA, Abiodun Rauf is a Traffic Officer II at Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). He bagged his first and second degrees in Sociology (specialized in Demography) at Lagos State University and University of Ibadan Respectively.

A Learner

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