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NHIS boss queried over N10bn illegal withdrawal

NHIS boss queried over N10bn illegal withdrawal

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•Reps summon Adeosun, CBN governor, others

The House of Representatives yesterday queried the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, over the  withdrawal of N10 billion from the agency’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Chika Okafor, raised the query during an investigative hearing with the NHIS.
Okafor said during an oversight visit by the committee to the NHIS recently, his committee discovered N10 billion “questionable” withdrawals from the agency’s account.
According to him, on December 28, 2016, the sum of N5 billion was withdrawn from the NHIS account. While on January 11 this year, another N5 billion was withdrawn from the same account.
Consequently, the committee summoned the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to appear before it to explain the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal.
Speaking at the investigative hearing,  Yusuf, who appeared before the Committee alongside some officials of the NHIS, said the N10 billion was deducted  from the agency’s TSA  and paid into the federation account.
He explained that on December 1, 2016 the NHIS got a memo from the Ministry of Finance, that it was a revenue generating agency, and as such should remit N8.8 billion to the federation account as its operating surplus.
Yusuf, who was reinstated recently by President Muhammadu Buhari  after a seven-month suspension, said the NHIS is not a revenue-generating agency and as such should not remit money to the government.
He noted that efforts are being made to get the money back into the coffers of the NHIS. According to him, a tripartite meeting had been held between the Accountant General, Finance Minister and himself to resolve the issue.
“On December 28, 2016, N5 billion was deducted from the NHIS TSA account and paid into the Federal Government’s consolidated revenue account. And it was minuted as part payment for this outstanding operating surplus. The ministry was working on the premise that NHIS owes the Federal Government N8.8 billion that was not remitted as operating surplus.
“I was away from July 2017 and in January this year, another N5 billion was transferred from NHIS account again as payment for what the ministry said was excess operating surplus that we had, “ Yusuf said.
The NHIS boss added: “The premise on which the N8.8 billion came was, when I first came, I visited the Account-General as part of my reach-out programme.  He asked that we bring audited account for five years. I did. And he called a director to help us. That was when I knew that in accounting, any number in parenthesis is negative. So, in our financial books, the year 2012 to 2015, many of the numbers were in parenthesis.
“But when the Ministry of Finance came, the brackets were missing. They were pulled out and they became positive. So, a deficit of N230 million became a surplus of N8.8 billion and that was the premise that the Ministry of Finance said we had a surplus of N8.8 billion that was not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue funds. The N10 billion is not missing. NHIS N10 billion is in the federal government consolidated revenue account.”

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