By Ozibo Ozibo
A House of Representatives ad hoc committee chaired by Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) yesterday began the probe of the embattled Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf.
Ossai, who briefed newsmen in Abuja, noted that the committee’s assignment was necessitated by the National Assembly’s mandate to expose corruption in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“The National Assembly’s duty is to expose corruption in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitutions as amended. The government of the day is a government of transparency,” Ossai said.
In her submission, the Secretary, NHIS Governing Council, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, told the Committee that Yusuf was suspended on October 18 over fraudulent padding of the scheme’s 2018 budget to the tune of N1.3 billion; inflation of ICT expenditure from N7.7 billion in 2015 to N14.9 billion in 2018.
Other allegations, according to her, include attempt to illegally execute N30 billion investment in Federal Government bond; unlawful staff posting and wilful defiance of Council directives; unauthorized travels; superfluous arrogation of project vehicles; among others.
“You will note that the Executive Secretary just returned from another suspension; that NHIS was constantly generating negative headlines in the media; and most importantly, that the public, government and other stakeholders have lost confidence in NHIS,” Ifenne said.
She thanked the committee for stepping into the crisis rocking the “strategic health institution” established to provide qualitative and affordable healthcare to Nigerians.
Earlier, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had promised to liaise with the committee to find a lasting solution to the crisis rocking the scheme, especially with regard to the Health Management Officers (HMOs).
Adewole also disclosed the appointment of a Director in the Ministry of Health, Ben Omogo, as an interim supervisor of the scheme, pending a full scale investigation into the allegations.
Recall that the House of Representatives last week resolved to investigate the allegations of fraud and infractions against the Executive Secretary, whose ‘suspension’ had thrown the NHIS into crisis.
Meanwhile, Prof. Yusuf, who was also present at the investigative hearing, decided to defer his presentation until the resumption of the hearing today.