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NHIS: Buhari fails to act on suspended ES, four weeks after receiving panel report

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Prof. Usman Yusuf
Suspended NHIS Executive Secretary

 

ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to act on the suspended Executive-Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Prof. Usman Yusuf, four weeks after a presidential probe panel submitted its report.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday 31 October 2018 directed Prof. Usman to proceed on “administrative leave” with immediate effect, following alleged infractions by him at the scheme.

The president constituted seven-man committee to investigate him and submit its report within two weeks.

Mr. Ben Omogo, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation was deployed to oversee the affairs of the scheme in the interim.

The pronouncements followed continued protest by workers of the scheme, after the executive secretary refused to comply with the suspension placed on him by governing council of the scheme to allow for probe into his alleged criminal conducts at the organization.

The president action was made available to journalists by office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Usman had been accused of mismanaging 919 million naira and was subsequently suspended by Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who set up a committee to probe him. The panel found him guilty and made recommendations accordingly.

But, President Buhari who was outside the country, receiving treatment at the time the developments unfolded, reinstated him shortly after returning to the country. The action was greeted with knocks from most Nigerians.

Governing of the scheme, through its chairperson, Dr Enyantu Ifenne, suspended the executive secretary on Thursday 18th October over alleged fraud, insubordination, criminal breach of Procurement Act, self-aggrandizement, arbitrariness among other offences.

Yusuf had remained in office, claiming the council lacked powers to suspend him. He had often defeated protesting workers at the gate of the Scheme’s headquarters who tried to prevent him from entering with the help of arm-wielding police officers and operatives of the Directorate of State Services.

Chairman of the committee, Dr. Hassan Bukar, submitted the report to Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Monday 24th December, 2018 in Abuja.

The panel was initially given two weeks by the president to conclude its assignment, but the job spanned over seven weeks before it was completed.

Mr Mustapha defended the delay while receiving the panel’s report. He said the panel needed “to address core issues on a lasting basis.”

He assured that “the report would be expeditiously processed for implementation,” and that the decision of government on the recommendations of the panel “will be made public at the appropriate time.”

He said government “regards the scheme as critical to its promise to Nigerians that they would enjoy qualitative and affordable healthcare.  Government also regards healthcare delivery as a cardinal programme on which huge investments have been committed because a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.”

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