Do not drink and drive. Indeed, if you are a member of a group involved in some social activity that may involve drinking, nominate a member of that group who must not drink and who will be responsible for driving others home.
This is the kernel of an ongoing campaign on responsible drinking being spearheaded by the duo of Guinness Nigeria and the Federal Roads Safety Corps, FRSC.
The months, leading to the festive end of the year, popularly referred to as “ember months” have historically recorded a disproportionately high rate of road traffic accidents in Nigeria, making the campaign particularly imperative at this period.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony in Lagos, Managing Director/CEO, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Peter Ndegwa disclosed that this year’s awareness campaign will see the introduction of various novel and innovative strategies geared towards raising public awareness on the benefits of responsible alcohol consumption.
“At Guinness Nigeria, we believe that our position as a market leader places a significant responsibility on us to raise awareness about the importance of consuming alcohol responsibly. We are passionately committed to responsible drinking and enlightening the public about the values of responsible alcohol consumption, especially during the festive period. We are eager to create increased awareness to ensure that Nigerians have an incident-free experience. Working in tandem with our various stakeholders on our responsible drinking initiatives, we have found a worthy partner in the FRSC, with whom on an annual basis we have carried out this Ember Months campaign,” Ndegwa said.
In a passionate appeal, Ndegwa reiterated to everyone – consumers, motorists and the general public that drinking and driving do not mix: “When you drink, don’t drive. When you go out in a group to have fun, designate someone to drive and that person should not drink. If you are going out alone, arrange for taxi to take you home after you have had some drink. Whatever you do this season, don’t drink and drive”.
Mr. Ndegwa also disclosed that Guinness Nigeria employees have been encouraged to join FRSC Special Marshals, adding that “these inspiring Guinness Nigeria employees are an embodiment of what the organization and especially this partnership is all about – service for the greater good.”
Activities to mark this year’s programme include: joint road shows to create awareness of drink-driving, radio and TV talk shows and for the first time, random testing of motorists with breathalyzer to check their Blood Alcohol Concentration levels.
On his part, Corps Commander, Lagos Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Mr. Hyginus Omeje urged motorists to obey traffic laws, avoid overloading and avoid driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Before now, all we had done in terms of enforcement have been based on sobriety tests which can’t be used to prosecute offenders successfully. However, with the kind donation of breathalyzers by Guinness Nigeria, we would be able to prosecute drivers successfully. And when we prosecute, one, two, five, ten drivers successfully, you discover that the news will spread very fast and produce the behavioural change which this awareness campaign is expected to usher in,” Omeje noted.
Omeje also commended Guinness Nigeria’s commitment to the Ember months awareness campaign.
Guinness Nigeria’s partnership with the FRSC on road safety began eleven years ago when the United Nations declared 2004 as International Road Safety Year with the theme, “Safe Roads”. In that year, both organizations jointly carried out the opening event of the International Road Safety Year in Nigeria and conducted various awareness programmes on drink-driving. Since then, the relationship has blossomed and has translated to the yearly “Ember Months” campaigns during which motoring members of the public are educated on the dangers of drink-driving, especially during the last quarter of the year (Ember Months) when celebrations, festivities and human and vehicular traffic tend to be at their peak.
The company also has consistently demonstrated its strong commitment to promoting the responsible consumption of alcohol as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, through its various Responsible Drinking initiatives. These include a successful “Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign, which was run on radio and billboards; an alcohol education platform called DRINKIQ, which the company leverages to engage various stakeholders and an Age Verification Initiative, which will ensure that alcohol isn’t sold to minors or persons under the age of legal purchase in a bid to reduce the harmful effects of underage drinking.
By Pita Ochai