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‘Impression out there is that NHIS can never work’ – Acting ES


• Vows to change perception

ABUJA – The Acting Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Attahiru Ibrahim, has taken full control of the organization, days after his predecessor, Prof Usman Yusuf engaged in altercations and chose to ignore directive by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to step aside.

Yusuf was given three months suspension barely 11 months of his reign at the Scheme, following various allegations of corrupt practices and high-handedness that characterized his leadership.

Eight other management staff of the organization were suspended on Monday by the ministry, in furtherance to the activities of the investigative panel of inquiry set up by the minister “and the desire to have an uninterrupted and robust investigation of all petitions at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), including security reports on maladministration and mismanagement by officials of the agency,

Speaking with journalists on Wednesday, Ibrahim said a lot has to be done by his management team to reposition the NHIS because the impression among Nigerians is that the scheme “can never work.”

He said given the management of the scheme in recent time, many staff remain “under a state of siege” owing to seeming gap between them and the scheme’s management. He said the staff of the organization “are first of all human beings who deserve some dose of dignity and re-aligning their focus with a new dignity,” to enable them drive the goals of the NHIS with zeal.

Ibrahim said in compliance with government’s directive to reposition NHIS for best practices, his team of management had decided to hit the ground running by taking some decisive steps aimed at fine-tuning processes for greater and efficient service delivery, including removal of disconnects between staff and management.

“Our primary reason for being in NHIS is to ensure Nigerians benefit from quality health insurance. Our primary reason for being here is to ensure major stakeholders we engage either in the supply chain or in the health management chain put Nigerians first. I must reiterate here that for as long as we are in this capacity, our decisions as a team must only be influenced by the right judgments which enable us to sleep well without pain or worry over reprehensible conducts.

“We are aware that no condition is permanent as the saying goes. Therefore, stakeholders and members of the public must never find it difficult to relate with us. We shall not hesitate to pull the plugs off anyone in the system who abuses his or her privilege of service.

“We shall not toy with working together as Team as only the Lone Ranger travels slowly. People who work together in harmony reach great destinations. I need to also say that we shall quickly embark on on- the- spot assessment of interactions between Nigerian patients and various healthcare facilities. We have a major responsibility to put the patients first!

“As there is no sole custodian of wisdom and in line with the Federal government’s clear policy of repositioning the health sector which is handed to us as a mandate,
Our decisions shall be well thought out, accommodating divergent management views.

“Finally, let us not deceive ourselves. The impression out there is that NHIS can never work. We are prepared to prove the world wrong through pleasant surprises,” he stated.

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