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NHIS crisis: Presidency steps in, as Reps resolve to probe agency

….Those plotting to stop me have failed — Yusuf

By Emman Ovuakporie, with agency reports

Abuja—The Presidency has stepped into the crisis rocking the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, following purported suspension of the Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf.

House of Representatives

This is even as the House of Representatives, yesterday, resolved to set up a committee to probe the agency’s leadership and its operations.

Recall that the governing council of the NHIS had on October 18 suspended Yusuf over alleged gross misconduct.

But, Yusuf resumed work  last Friday, a day after his fresh suspension by the council.

Consequently, some workers, acting under the aegis of Association of Civil Servants of Nigeria, and Medical and Health Workers Union of NHIS, almost prevented him from gaining entrance to the office on Monday.

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Their colleagues of the Nigeria Civil Service Union in support of Yusuf, mobilised themselves and countered the protest.

The situation, which almost degenerated into a security breach was, however, contained with the intervention of a combined team of police, civil defence and state security operatives.

However, presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, who disclosed news of the Presidency’s intervention on Channels TV Sunrise Daily , yesterday, in Abuja, said Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, and Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had intervened in the NHIS crisis, with a view to finding lasting solutions.

Shehu, who is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, noted with regret that the NHIS crisis had been ethnicised and politicised by some interest groups within and outside the agency.

“Did the board follow due process in suspending this gentleman? There are opinions that said ‘no they didn’t’.

“Again, we all have to do the right thing all of the times. I don’t deny the fact that there is a lot of work to do – (the crisis) is complicated by the fact that the whole thing about the NHIS has been ethnicised and politicised.

“Even a political party was issuing a statement on matters that are unknown to it.  I’ll tell you one thing, as we speak now, you know that no matter whatever mistakes this gentleman may have made, and that is to be proven because I don’t have the records to say yes or no, he has launched a major reform in that institution which had blocked access to public resources.

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“Money from the NHIS is not money belonging to government, is money taken from your salary, from my salary.

“If we have been enlisted, we are supposed to get treatments when we fall ill then you should ask the question in 13 years of the NHIS how many Nigerians have received the treatments.”

The presidential aide stated that he was not in the position to challenge the allegations of wrong doings levelled against the executive secretary in some quarters.

Reps resolve to probe agency

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has set up an adhoc committee to probe the leadership and operations of the NHIS

This came after the  adoption of a motion of national urgent importance on the urgent need to prevent the NHIS from degenerating into a crisis-ridden agency by Diri Duoye, PPP, Bayelsa.

Duoye in his submission, noted that the Governing Council of NHIS on October 18, 2018, announced the suspension of the Executive Secretary of the agency, Prof. Usman Yusuf, over alleged fraudulent activities and infractions.

The Bayelsa lawmaker explained that prior to that, the council had also issued the Executive Secretary series of queries demanding explanations on the alleged infractions which he didn’t respond to.

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He recalled that the latest crisis was coming months after the Executive Secretary was controversially reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari, following his suspension by the Ministry of Health over similar allegations.

Adopting the motion, the House resolved to constitute an ad hoc committee to probe the crisis as well as the scheme’s operations.

Those plotting to stop me have failed —Yusuf

Meanwhile, Usman Yusuf, said yesterday that those who think they can stop his fight against corruption in the agency have failed.

In an interview with BBC Hausa, Yusuf said he had been going through “unnecessary accusations of fraud” since he came on board at the NHIS.

Yusuf said he was only accused of corruption but not indicted and that the “powerful people” whom he stepped on their toes were the ones after him.

The executive secretary said he was innocent of the allegations against him, arguing also that his suspension was illegal.

He said: “They’re doing that just to intimidate and stop me from doing my good work. They have failed, I will never succumb to their ploy, I think they have to change plan.

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“I told everyone when I came on board that the public funds in the commission belong to Nigerians, no one should tamper with that money, including myself.

“If I’m corrupt, EFCC and ICPC are currently recovering billions of naira from my whistleblowing in the commission and I have never been indicted by the anti-corruption agencies.

“My ordeal as the executive secretary of NHIS may be connected with NHIS agents who think that I stepped on their toes and you know these people are powerful and they are well established in the previous administration.

“Those NHIS agents, I told them to pay back their debts which has already run to billions of naira. After initial investigation, I learnt that so many abnormalities need to be corrected.”


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