Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) on Wednesday 25th August joined widows of deceased officers of the Agency to appreciate and pray for President Muhammadu Buhari for granting intervention fund to pay the burial entitlements of at least 188 personnel who died in active service.
Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja said Marwa and the widows spoke at a brief ceremony at the Agency headquarters in Abuja for the payment of burial entitlements that had been pending since 2014 to the widows and families of the deceased officers.
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. In the course of his speech, he asked the gathering to offer both Islamic and Christian prayers for the President and his government.
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, he stated.
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, Gen. 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.”
For him, 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 strate
gically 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.
He reminded the gathering that the NDLEA is not made up of the headquarters buildings but the officers and men who work to achieve institutional goals. According to him, Whatever achievements we have to our credit, they are a product of the service, sweat and sacrifice of our officers and men. Imperatively, it is incumbent on the leadership to look after their wellbeing, cater to their welfare while they are here and even when they are no longer in service. We will do these to our maximum capability, especially for those that died in the line of duty. Otherwise, how do we convince those in service to be committed if we fail to tidy the affairs of those who lost their lives in the line of duty?
“It is to this end that we have worked assiduously and purposefully to ensure the payment of burial expenses to the families or beneficiaries of 188 personnel that we lost while on duty. Although the last payment was in 2014, I would not want us to regard todays event as a once in a blue moon development. We are presently perfecting a process that will run seamlessly such that our personnel get their emoluments, allowances and other benefits as and when due.
“We are aware of the challenges in processing life insurance claims and pension benefits from Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs). We have been in contact with these institutions for early processing of claims. For life insurance claims, we have received 30 discharge vouchers for 2017 deaths and 10 discharge vouchers for 2020 deaths from the underwriters and brokers. By discharge vouchers, it means the claims are at the last stage of payment. We are still processing other due insurance claims for other years with the relevant institutions. I have also directed that the internal group personal accident insurance scheme be resuscitated for death, medical expenses, temporary and permanent disabilities.
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. She commended the President for appointing a seasoned and an excellent administrator as Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency. We shall continue to pray to God to guide and protect you, your officers and men as you strive to move the Agency to greater heights. We are also grateful to you for ensuring that the widows and children of deceased officers do not suffer injustice, she added.