NHIS executive secretary suspended indefinitely

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The governing board of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has suspended Usman Yusuf, executive secretary of the scheme, indefinitely.

Enantu Ifenna, chairman of the board, who announced Yusuf’s suspension at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, said Yusuf was suspended over allegations of financial infractions levelled against him.

She also said the executive secretary had refused to carry out the board’s decisions on critical issues and institutionalised corruption at the agency.

She accused the NHIS boss of allegedly inflating the scheme’s 2018 budget, “fraudulently inflating the cost of biometric capturing machines”, and “attempt to illegally execute N30 billion in federal government bonds”.

The board also alleged that Yusuf carried out unauthorised staff travel “in defiance to council directive”, “superfluous arrogation of project vehicles” and added he has been insubordinate.

Ifenna added that one Sadiq Abubakar will now act as executive secretary of the scheme.

Since his appointment on July 29, 2016, Yusuf had reportedly violated procurement laws and dished out contracts to cronies.

But Yusuf was reinstated in February following the intervention of the house of representatives.

His reinstatement triggered criticisms but the federal government had said the development would not stop his probe by the anti-graft agencies.

When he resumed, Yusuf vowed to fight back, accusing some hospitals and insurance companies of ganging up against him for opposing some sharp practices.

He vowed that no amount of smear campaign would deter him from bringing healthcare to the people. But the governing council levelled corruption allegations against him six months after he was reinstated.

In a letter addressed to Prof. Isaac Adewole, health minister, the council raised an alarm that unless an urgent intervention is done, the risk of the pending collapse “will have catastrophic consequence for the Buhari change mandate.”

The letter, signed by Ifenna and dated August 8, raised various issues of concern, including “dwindling annual revenues”, “inefficient operations” and “alarming net operating cash position”.

The council said, for instance, that whereas the scheme’s total annual revenue should be on the increase, it has continued to decline since 2015, blaming this on “shortfalls in the remittance of enrollee’s contributions.” It noted that the contributions the scheme is getting from the federal government enrolees reduced from N6 billion in 2017 to N4.2 billion in 2018 “whereas a recent forensic audit revealed that about N138 billion is currently trapped in commercial banks”.

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