Health Minister asked to recall suspended NHIS boss

James Marshall
July 16, 2017

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, and the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, have continued to dare each other through letters and press statements over Yusuf's suspension from office.

This was communicated to him in a letter from the Honourable Minister for Health, Prof Isaac Adewole who justified the directive based on petitions received against the Secretary on allegations of corruption.

Usman had blamed the HMOs for the failures of the NHIS during an appearance before the House Committee on Health Services chaired by Chike Okafor.

The lawmakers also urged the Minister to recall the NHIS Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf from suspension forthwith and allow him to continue with his sanitization programme in the agency.

However, the House noted that even Adewole is now under investigation, resulting from a petition that he allegedly he received vehicle gifts from a former NHIS ES but has not been suspended by the presidency.

Trouble started for Yusuf when the Senate launched investigations into his activities as the NHIS chief and accused him of "corrupt expenditure of N292 million" which he allegedly spent on health care training "without recourse to any appropriate approving authority".

Members of the House were of the opinion that the minister, who was a President appointee, has no power to suspend another appointee of the President.

In the two petitions sighted by Saturday Vanguard, the two groups had called on the Acting President to cause the EFCC and the ICPC to investigate the high level of corruption and nepotism promoted by Prof Yusuf in the NHIS, which had caused the Federal Government billions of Naira and stifled the growth of health insurance as a result.

However, the NHIS boss fired back at the Minister in a daring tone, pointedly telling him to his face that he could not proceed on the suspension as the minister lacks the power to sanction him.

"Except removed from office by the president under circumstances specified in the NHIS Act, my appointment is for a period of five years subject to further term of the same period at the discretion of the president".

"The Minister wrote to the Executive Secretary through the Permanent Secretary, Binta Adamu Bello, Ref".

Okafor said Usman had turned down the request because there was no budgetary provision for it. The ES inquired from the CMDs as to whether there were such projects being executed, they all confirmed to the contrary. The fund in possession of NHIS is a Contributory Fund by Nigerian workers.

"He said that none of the 57 HMOs has a valid license as most of their accreditation has expired and views to ensure that any HMO owing health providers, would not be re accredited. The fund should not be used as directed".

"He likened it to the fraud in the fuel subsidy scheme, stressing that they are padding figures of enrollees so that they can get paid".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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