Appraising The Recommendation On Compulsory Training Of Drivers On First Aid By The Health Ministry – By David Oba, Ph.D


In Nigeria’s present situation of increasing road risks and dangers, the statistics on road fatalities and injuries are scary. Going by the World Health Organisation (WHO) records  on global Road Traffic Injuries (RTIs), Nigeria is rated second on the top of the ladder. This was confirmed in 2012 by the then Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu when he declared that Nigeria has the second highest road traffic accident fatalities among the 193 countries in the world.  In 2009, Dr. John Akanya, the then Director-General, Standard Organisation of Nigeria affirmed that  Nigeria records 34,000 deaths annually on the highways as a result of burst tyres and in 2003, the then Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe stated that  80 people die  daily on Nigerian federal roads. As much as these records may not match the official data on RTIs from the Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRSC), Nigeria’s regulating agency on road safety, the fact remains that most road crashes are unreported and one preventable road death is highly unnecessary.

Specifically, the number of deaths and injuries recorded at the spot of road crashes in Nigeria has become very alarming and on daily basis, media reports reveal many incidents of dead road crash victims being transported to the mortuaries or FRSC’s rescue team arriving at such scenes only to certify death of victims. The stories are endless especially in a country like Nigeria where every fifteen minutes of everyday, officials of the FRSC are faced with the challenge of getting to the scene of a road crash as quickly and safely as possible. Indeed, the recent gory pictures involving the death of six students of Ibadan Polytechnic in a road crash along Ibadan-Oyo road which trended in the media with helpless bystanders sympathetically watching the victims die while awaiting late arrival of emergency medical services is very depressing.  As if this was not enough agony, in less than twenty four hours, precisely on February 9th 2016, the popular Nigerian blogger Linda Ikeji, exposed to the world pictures of four Reverend sisters that were crushed to death by a truck of a bottling company along the Ikom-Ogoja road whilst first responders to the crash scene were just there looking at the victims with no knowledge of what to do even when the victims were not yet certified dead.  Sadly, these incidents are highly preventable deaths but for very limited opportunities to timely administration of first help measures to the blameless victims. Without a doubt, the road crisis situation has made every road user in Nigeria to become a potential victim of road crash and road travel, a major prayer point for many Nigerians that believe in divine intervention for addressing their very fearful situations.

Despite the excellent qualities of the officers and management of the FRSC which have yielded success in many aspects of road safety, evidence abound that on rescue operations for road crash victims, it is not yet possible for any National Road Safety Agency in Africa to be at the scene of every road crash in a timely approach to offer First Aid measures because of insufficient rescue facilities, logistics hindrances and funding inadequacies.  Unfortunately, precious time lost can mean the difference between life and death for someone waiting for help.  Thus, the recent call on the management of the FRSC by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire to make persons who apply for driver’s license for the first time to undergo a ‘First Aid course’ before being issued a license is highly remarkable and worthy of immediate implementation.
According to the Africa Zone of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), first aid is a simple yet radical response that would dramatically cut Africa’s rising road deaths. For emphasis, First Aid is a global best practice for reduction of deaths and injuries on the spot of accidents. Credible statistics from the IFRC indicate that 57% of deaths from traffic collisions occur in the first few minutes of the crash and up to 85% of preventable pre-hospital deaths may be due to airway obstruction which often occurs before the arrival of emergency services. This wealth of medical evidence suggests that a `golden hour’ does exist for casualties after a road crash’. Within this time, road crash victims stand a greater chance of survival and a reduction in the severity of their injuries, provided, first aid can be immediately and properly administered by even a bystander.

Consequently, the recommendation of First Aid knowledge for all drivers by the Minister of State for Health is timely and comes at a period that there is great need for National Road Safety Agencies in Africa to address their weak rescue capacity through a strategic partnership approach of collective responsibility by all road users. Realistically, compulsory first aid training for drivers as suggested by the Health Minister is not only an  innovation in public health management to mitigate human damage especially on the roads but a first real bid to give impetus to  an earlier endorsement by the Nigerian Government on compulsory training of drivers on first aid and mandatory carrying of first aid boxes in all vehicles during “meeting of experts” at African Road Safety Conference, 2007 a.k.a “Accra Declaration”, a WHO rated most visible credible and concerted effort of African countries to develop unique strategies for reducing road traffic fatalities by half in 2020.

Besides, training of drivers on first aid, the need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to institute a public First Aid training programme for all road users at little or no cost is necessary. This is where road safety NGOs with demonstrated capacity would be expected to bring together their respective resources and capabilities to create first aid awareness and assist the FRSC to train road users on First Aid application by promoting voluntary service and community responsibility. Such a programme if implemented, will serve as a quick impact initiative of the present Government in meeting the expectations of Nigerians on improved road safety measures because the number of people who die as a result of road traffic injuries and other related accidents would be considerably reduced if first callers to accident scenes are able to act effectively before the arrival of medical emergency services.

Thus, prompt implementation of the proposal by the Honourable Health Minister for the FRSC to include First Aid training in its new drivers’ license scheme will not only be a quick win for Nigeria on road fatality reduction but would fit into the ongoing WHO/UN global collaboration on 2011-2020 decade of action on road safety, a vehicle for attracting support of International developmental partners.

In conclusion, given that First Aid is something all Nigerians may need one day or the other, it is therefore important to state that any delay in the implementation of this recommendation on compulsory First Aid knowledge by drivers would certainly expose the lip service attention the Nigerian government pays to the safety of its citizens and residents.   Indeed, it is high time this disturbing issue of poor rescue operations for road crash victims is addressed as a collective responsibility and the present Nigerian government in its change mantra must recognise the need to curb preventable road deaths through effective collaborations. The competence of the FRSC’s focused Management as led by Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi is not in doubt but its ability to fulfill its road safety mandate in attending to road crash victims should lie in expanding community rescue efforts as recommended by the Health Minister, as no single agency with limited resources like the FRSC can serve all road victims in need of urgent attention

David Oba, Ph.D, Co-ordinator, PATVORA Initiative road safety NGO
& Country contact Person, WHO/ NGO road safety global collaboration.



  1. This is well researched article and it is very informative. I hope the government of Nigeria tows the advice of the Health Minister as the leading authority on health matters. Why must we wait for the FRSC when precious lives are being lost everyday not even on the roads only by even in our homes and offices

    • Dr Oba, the author of this piece is on point. First aid is a tested and accepted measure for reducing the severity of injuries and even preventing fatalities. I think the author should have done well to thrust the guilt of many road deaths on the door steps of the FRSC than providing flimsy excuses for its failure. Well this is time for action. Enough is enough for unwarranted deaths. Every responsible adult Nigerian road user can play a role on this. That’s just the stark reality’

  2. The writer has brought to our attention a very important aspect of road safety that is essential to all Nigerians that use the roads. Unfortunately, it took a very long time for the authorities understand the essence of first aid as an important tool to save lives.

    • Our ambulance services are grossly ineffective and insufficient for transporting accident victims to hospitals. Road users need first aid knowledge. Thanks

    • Even though no new law is required for the take off of such a good proposal by the Health Minister, I suggest that our Senators and Representatives are informed especially the members of the Road Safety Committee at the Federal House of Representatives as appropriate follow up and necessary advocacy is required of them. Indeed, records show that many members of both the upper and lower chambers of the legislative arm at the National Assembly have been lost to road accidents as they make regular use of the roads while visiting their constituencies. So, lack of first aid is just a concern for every road user.

  3. When it comes to issuance of tickets on minor offences, the FRSC is good but when it comes to preventing accidents or even arriving early when accidents occur, their co-ordination is very poor. What I understand about FRSC is that it is a government agency that conveys dead people to the morgue. This First Aid matter must not be neglected anymore.

    • With proper statistics, it is possible that in Nigeria, more people die from road accidents than HIV. Perhaps, the attraction for those NGOs working for HIV could be money. I just hope the Health Minister or the FRSC can encourage the involvement of more NGOs in road safety. Right now, I do not think we have up to ten NGOs on road safety but on HIV there are over three thousand.

  4. I pray that the FRSC is able to device means of training all Nigerians on first aid as soon as possible. Nigerians must ‘join body for this issue’ as any person really can be the one in need of help some day.

  5. Addressing this issue of lack of first aid will not only benefit poor people like me because when the rich also gets involved in road accidents it could just be a poor bystander that would be available to help. Nobody is an exception to preventable road deaths.

  6. Many have died as a result of delayed response. In 1998, when my wife and two lovely kids were involved in a road accident at Uromi in Edo State, I lost my wife because she was unconscious probably as a result of shock. Until she was taken to the hospital, nobody knew what to do because it took them about thirty minutes to convey her there. It is really unfortunate, may her soul continue to rest in perfect peace. Indeed, First Aid is very important and the FRSC owes Nigerians the duty to ensure its implementation.
    Cyril Irabor

    • Something must be done about building NGO capacity to help the FRSC on this issue because over one hundred million Nigerians that rely on road transportation for their commuting needs deserve the First aid training. As the writer of the article rightly put it, no single agency with limited financial resources can meet the need of accident victims.

  7. This piece on importance of First aid really made so much sense and the analysis very comprehensive. I am very shocked at the data reeled out with backed up authorities. Whether it conforms to what the FRSC tells us is least important because every life is important. The Minister of state for health has spoken candidly on why may put an end to the messy situation of mass deaths on the roads and any agency charged with such responsibility like the FRSC should please see the great need to listen to wise counsel.

  8. I can imagine what the Nigerian society will be like when most people know what to do in an event of an accident. The many NGOs working on HIV/AIDS should divert their focus to support the FRSC. This will truly demonstrate their seriousness in saving lives. Furthermore, the existing NGOs on road safety should not wait for anyone before commencing what is good for road users like conducting first aid training for volunteers, drivers, school kids etc

  9. The death of the four nuns and their pictures shown on many blogs are very depressing especially with people busy taking pictures instead of taking steps that might have aided their resuscitation where possible. I think the Nigerian government should give First aid for all Nigerians quick attention. May the souls of these very innocent Reverend Sisters rest in the bosom of God.

    • I think it is a good advice especially coming from the Health Ministry. However, training of drivers alone will be insufficient. Let the Government train every Nigerian through support to the FRSC and NGOs

    • This recommendation on saving lives of road travelers through broad training of drivers on first aid really fits into the overall social change policy of President Buhari. It will have a positive impact on the government for emergency situations even in turbulent Northern parts of the country where violence is rampant because of insurgency. However, the FRSC should do it properly not just for driving schools to be forging certifications for drivers.

  10. I have taken time to visit the website that showed the pictures of the accident that killed the six young Ibadan polytechnic students. Every person there were just watching the victims wailing in pains or observing them go through the sad process of death without help. Very sad, we need millions of first aiders in Nigeria

    • First Aid training for Nigerians should not be a task for the FRSC only but let them initiate it and I believe there exist local and International organisations that would support.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here