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Breaking: NHIS: Buhari suspends Executive Secretary, orders fresh probe

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By Omeiza Ajayi

ABUJA: President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the suspension of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme NHIS, Yusuf Usman and directed a fresh investigation into the allegations made by the governing council of the scheme against Mr Usman.

President Buhari

This was contained in a statement by the Permanent Secretary (General Services Office) in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, Olusegun Adekunle.

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The Federal Government however said “the objective of establishing Parastatals is in fulfillment of the need to deliver services to Nigerians faster and better, declaring that the roles of   Governing Boards/Councils, are as prescribed by the statutes, guidelines and extant circulars and that the position of Chief Executives of Parastatals is to ensure that policies of Government as enunciated by Boards and Councils are implemented in accordance with their mandate”.

It said it has however observed with deep concern the growing tension between Boards and Chief Executives and their attendant implications for governance.

“For the avoidance of doubt, government will neither tolerate acts of indiscipline from any appointee nor will it habour any acts of corruption.  Government will however ensure that due process is followed strictly in trying to maintain discipline and probity in public service.

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“With specific reference to recent developments at the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. President has after due consideration approved the establishment of an independent fact-finding panel to investigate the alleged infractions by the Executive Secretary and report back within two weeks. The Membership of the Panel include: Dr. Hassan Bukar, who would serve as Chairman. Members of the panel are Dr. Emmanuel  Meribole, Director, HPRS, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Adewale Owolo, Director, Audit, Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Shamsuddeen Bello, Deputy Director Expenditure, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ishaq Yahaya, Firector, Certification & Compliance, Bureau of Public Procurement, Dr Ekanem John Udoh, Director of Science, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Mrs. Jummai Idakwo, Director, Administration, OSGF who would serve as secretary.

Usman Yusuf

Yusuf Usman

The terms of reference of the panel are to investigate the alleged infractions listed by the NHIS Governing Council in letter dated 18th October, 2018 and determine the extent of culpability or otherwise of the Executive Secretary with regards to the allegations; make appropriate recommendations based on the findings from term one above;d identify, investigate and make recommendations with regards to issues that led to the unhealthy relationship between the Board and the CEO; investigate and make recommendations on the extent of involvement of staff Unions’ within the institution as to the current impasse between the Governing Board and Executive Secretary; and examine all governance challenges in the NHIS and make appropriate recommendations.

“The Panel which is headed by a retired Permanent Secretary will be inaugurated by the SGF on Friday.   With the establishment of this Panel, the earlier body set up by the Governing Council stands dissolved.

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“In order to create room for an unfettered investigation, Mr. President has approved that the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf should proceed on administrative leave immediately.  In his absence, Mr. Ben Omogo, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been deployed to oversee the affairs of the Scheme.

“Government recognizes the importance of the Scheme as a strong mechanism for the delivery of public healthcare and wishes to re-assure all Nigerians of its determination to place high premium on public interest”, the statement added.

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