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WHAT ABOUT A LASTMA TRAINING INSTITUTE? BY ABIODUN AWOSANYA

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WHAT ABOUT A LASTMA TRAINING INSTITUTE? BY ABIODUN AWOSANYA

 

One of many commendable strategies put in place by the previous administrations in Lagos to ensure law enforcement agents are cognitively, affectively and kinesthetically equipped was the introduction of Lagos State Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI), and its continuity. Arguably, in any policy’s formulation process, while there is usually a consideration for latent and manifest functions, there is also intention and action as its bedrock. The latent and manifest functions of LETI are no doubt habitually well stated and are usually incorporated in the vision and mission of an organization in carrying out those functions.
The intentions and actions, on the other hand, are two important factors that drive the success of any policy. This is why it is argued that the intentions of LETI on LASTMA personnel appear superb, but its pedagogical processes and outcomes appear otherwise due to several factors including “uniqueness of LASTMA operations, nature/curriculum of LETI programmes and methodology imbibed by LETI facilitators in inculcating information”. It is as a result of these constraining factors that LASTMA deserves a standardized cum organized medium suitable for its specialized nature of service in educating its officials.
Although, having considered that LASTMA, like all other paramilitary/Civil Law Enforcement Agency in Lagos including Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency/Corps (LNSC), Department of Vehicle Inspection Service (DVIS), and Lagos Environmental Sanitation Agency/Corps (LAGESC) are all encompassed in the program of LETI to give adequate basic training on law enforcement so as to effectively represent the state employer in the cause of discharging their lawful duties. It is on this note that kudos must be given to the Lagos state government in its intentions and actions to make its social services agencies unique as it toils the path of progressives and as a good example to other states.
Bearing in mind that paramilitary is a law enforcement group that is civil in its operation, in order to clear the doubt of the public on why the operations of some paramilitary agencies like LASTMA and LAGESC are done with mean act, paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) functions are similar to those of a professional military, but is not formally part of a country’s armed forces (Michael R., 1976). The state government, of course, might have had all these in mind and made it its bedrock in the process of creating these enforcement agencies to continually organize yearly professional training for the officers of all the enforcement agencies to get equipped with the fundamentals of enforcement processes through Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI). However, are the aims and objectives of the body not contradictory?
In its website, it is underlined that the responsibilities of LETI are to provide a supportive nurturing environment that will identify core competencies including knowledge and skill required for statutory performance of entry-level tasks in the areas of professional orientation, human relations and ethical use of direction. Furthermore, it is stipulated that these training expected of the body to deliver also comprise of promotion training and specialized training. Therefore, while the former prepare officers for the roles and responsibilities that come with the advancement in their law enforcement career, the latter focuses on courses that are necessitated by job task analysis, legislation and advances in technology and the state of knowledge regarding law enforcement practices. Thus, it is reasonable that all these objectives stated above are worthy of being worked on, and every law enforcement officer in the paramilitary agency needs to be equipped with those training.
Furthermore, having known that in paramilitary setting, even though LASTMA personnel are recruited as civil servant and that the services they provide are expected to be civil and social, the training is predictable to be tantamount to that of the military. To a common (lay) man, a paramilitary is a group of civilians organized to function like (or in aid of) a military unit. It is organized in a military version. What makes it different from the military is the use of arms, even though soft weapons are allowed to arrest the wayward actions of offenders. For instance in India, soft weapons such as chocker are accepted, and paramilitary is understood in the region in terms of total processes of social and political development in the country and to the nature of social contradictions and antagonisms.
Thus, the creation or establishment of paramilitary is pertinent to curb social vices of those set of people who are also armless in their unlawful activities such as people willfully working against laws and policies of the government, and thereby disturbing the peace of other citizens of the country. Examples of these people are those selling goods on the highways – even though they play roles of serving starved commuter who are stuck in traffic, for the fact that their activities attract and promote roadside robbers, evacuation of these set of people become sacrosanct.
In the same vein (as it is being carried out in Lagos), punishment of traffic laws violators are at the same time expected to be carried out by a paramilitary body because these violators are also “armless”. As “armless” as they appear, their actions can be harmful in cases of resistance to arrest. This is why it is needful for the government to intervene through training, supportive body language and sensitization. Kudos must indeed be given to Lagos state government for intervening right from the time of former governors, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF), and the incumbent governor of the state, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu for putting several measures in place in ensuring the commuters do not only obey traffic officers of LASTMA but also exhibit support for the men of the agency through their body language and sensitization of the populace on the need to obey traffic rules and traffic managers, as well as providing training for the men on operation department especially. Part of the measurements put in place is the LETI. However, as good as the aims and objectives of this body look on paper; its facilitators, courses and the programmes will best be measured if they are organized and drafted by the experienced and qualified men of the agency (LASTMA).
LASTMA is a very unique agency, unlike other “paramilitary” settings. The agency is the strongest in terms of staff strength in Lagos with over four thousand personnel as traffic managers. Even when it is expected that every employee of a state should be a representative of the head of such state such as a governor, it is evident that LASTMA personnel are first set of governor’s representatives that Lagos commuters see in the morning, and the last set of people they see when they close at night. These speak a lot about how germane the agency is and how sensitive its activities are. Thus, it would not appear rational if experienced and qualified traffic managers within the system are not part of the training processes of its personnel.
On the part of the facilitators in LETI, this write up is not to condemn them. Of course, those facilitators are professionals in their respective areas of specialization, but they are not field-experienced, as a result, they do not discuss in relations to the happenings of the field. They cannot even try to. They give laughable fictional scenarios in explaining the courses. They teach taekwondo in case of self-defence, but can the operational traffic managers practice taekwondo on the field without being tamed or labelled? They do not teach discretion, but should the officers not use discretion on the roads? Can they teach the process of arrest, processes involved in apprehending vehicles as it appears in reality, how to strategically arrest violent offender? Can they proffer a valid suggestive solution to the problems encountered by traffic managers? Are the experiences in LETI evergreen?
LASTMA is a distinctive service delivery system with core functions of Enforcement, Engineering, Evaluation and Education/Enlightenment. In addition, traffic managers meet with different kind of people as commuters/motorists (commercial or private), and the qualities expected of these traffic managers supposed not only be given in theories on papers, even when it must be so, should be done by those who are conversant with the pros and cons of the system. In other words, the curriculum should be all-encompassing, and the period for the programme should be work-free for all attendees. These programmes should, therefore, be inculcated by integrated facilitators.
An integrated security facilitator should be familiar with the workshop concept of security and wellbeing of human rights defenders. The key qualities of a facilitator according to T. O Omoregbe, a security expert include the understanding of group dynamics, flexibility, love of the work, good listener, grounded, experience of and skill in participatory, openness, and understanding/experience of the job. While I do not have issue with many of these stated qualities having known that they are normal general qualities expected from any facilitator, there are three of these qualities that none of the LETI facilitators neither exhibit nor practice as regards to LASTMA operation– understanding of group dynamics, understanding/experience of the job, and experience of and skills in participatory. If none of their facilitators is a LASTMA operational officer, there is no way they could possess these three out-factored qualities, and this faults their training on the agency’s personnel.
The way forward is a platform for traffic officers to be operated by qualified and experienced traffic officials. One must give appreciation to the immediate past General Manager of LASTMA, now Permanent Secretary (PS) Ministry of Transportation, Mr Olawale Musa for organizing, during his tenure as a GM, a yearly 1-day training programme for all operational officers tagged “GM training”, where issues directly pertaining to LASTMA operations are extensively discussed, and courses are handled by qualified/experienced traffic managers within the agency spearheaded by the GM himself. This programme, if extended to a well-structured form, could be made compulsory starting from the junior officers, and its evaluation on the officers could be used as part of their performance measurement for promotion.
As for the senior officers which could come later can also be used for the same essence but be more professional and extensive. A proper evaluation would be done, and such evaluation should achieve a specific objective, not just to do and pass. These processes, in the long run, could develop to an organized training institute where results could be used for promotions and advancement within the system as the case may be.
LASTMA Training Institute is achievable, and in this case inevitable. The functions and roles will take the agency to the next level of international standards. It would make traffic managers more professional. Thus, the General Manager (GM), Director of Operation (D-Ops), Director of Provost, and other heads of department, all have roles to play in its operation for a successful LASTMA College.
With the calibre of principal officers within the agency in terms of professionalism and academic qualifications, I am confident that they are grounded with the idea to create a great body in ensuring the college stands. And in addition, it will be of my great pleasure if I can be invited to give a breakdown on how this is achievable.
Thank you.

Abiodun AWOSANYA
I am a Traffic Officer in Lagos

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