The federal government has paid over N164 million for the burial entitlements to the families and widows of 188 officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Speaking at the cheque presentation ceremony, the chairman/chief executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd), said, “We owe a big thank you to President Muhammadu Buhari for his magnanimity in providing us with a special intervention fund to discharge our duty, specifically to officers and men who lost their lives in the line of duty.”
The NDLEA chairman recalled how President Buhari had equally stepped in to provide bailout funds for states twice to be able to pay workers’ salaries, among other pro-masses interventions by his administration.
According to him, “Today’s event is very significant to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the families of our officers and men. The prevailing solemnity cannot be helped, given that the proceedings relate principally to officers who have passed on.
“This presentation of burial expenses payments to their families and beneficiaries will understandably evoke painful memories and sober reflection for us all. However, the agency finds a modicum of consolation in its ability to discharge its duty to its employees who paid the supreme price while pursuing the NDLEA mandate.
“Hence, this occasion is symbolic as an attestation of the resolution of the NDLEA leadership to engender an institution where the welfare of staff commands utmost priority.”
While acknowledging that fighting illicit drug trafficking and abuse is a tough job, not only in Nigeria but also globally, Marwa, however, said that the battle “is twice as dangerous due to the obvious reason that the drug abuse prevalence of our country is three times that of the global average.
“This precarious matrix did not deter our personnel from performing their duty of safeguarding society from the scourge of illicit substances. Even though there had been demoralising circumstances and there are distressing conditions that could dampen their will and zeal, the officers and men of the NDLEA neither abandon their duty nor lose their sense of responsibility to society.
“The achievements recorded in the past seven months are a testament to the hard work and loyalty of the NDLEA workforce.
“In the same vein, the NDLEA leadership has been working strategically to navigate the bureaucratic labyrinth and break the gridlock that had kept the agency at a standstill for several years. One of our objectives is to enshrine an effective workplace ecosystem where the welfare of the NDLEA staff, the prevailing working condition is at par with what is obtainable in other national security services.
“Moreso, we aim to engender a milieu where issues relating to the career of staff are processed according to global best practices. What we are doing today is one of such strides.”
While apologising to the widows and families of the deceased officers and men who died in the line of duty for the late payment of the entitlements, Gen. Marwa said “the best Nigeria and Nigerians can do to immortalise these late officers and men is for all to stand and join the fight against the twin evils of drug trafficking and drug abuse, the main cause for which these heroes laid down their lives.
“The NDLEA shall not abdicate its responsibility to its employees. We shall continue to reinvent our administrative process to be responsive in an efficient and timely manner that will assure our officers and men that their future is well secured.”
Speaking on behalf of the other widows, Mrs Khaltume Hassan Amali expressed appreciation to President Buhari for coming to the aid of NDLEA to enable the agency meet its obligations to the families of its deceased officers.