There was a strong indication on Friday evening that the suspension placed on the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, may be overruled by the Presidency.
Already, the suspended Executive Secretary has defied the directive by the Governing Council that he should proceed on indefinite suspension over various forms of administrative infractions.
Professor Yusuf was suspended by the council on Thursday over allegation of fraud, insurbonation, criminal breach of Procurement Act, self-aggrandisement, arbitrariness among other offences.
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But the Executive Secretary, against the pronouncement of the Governing Council, reported in his office on Friday morning, with a source informing Saturday Tribune that he had been in contact with the Presidency.
Till Friday evening, the source said the Executive Secretary, according to the source was still working in office.
However, reacting to the insinuations that the Presidency might overrule the Governing Council as it did, when the Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, suspended him in 2018, the Chairperson of the Governing Council, Dr Enyantu Ifenne, said the council stood by its decision, adding that if President Buhari himself should receive just ‘a tenth’ of Yusuf’s alleged misdeeds, he would sack him immediately.
She said: “Let those who hide under cover of the Presidency to protect corruption know that Nigerians are keenly watching. I am convinced that if President Buhari is fully briefed about a tenth of Yusuf’s atrocities, he would throw him out!
“The truth, like health, has no colour, no tribe and no religion and no social class. The council stands by its decision,” she said.
Saturday Tribune also gathered that the matter had been taken to the Federal Ministry of Health.
Specifically, the Permanent Secretary, Abdullahi Mashi, was said to have been contacted by the Yusuf over the suspension.
Mash according to source, allegedly told him to interpret the NHIS Act if the Governing Council has the power to suspend him.
The source said: “Professor Yusuf has a lot of petitions against him from the public as noted by the Governing Council on Thursday before he was suspended. This the Council said should be investigated by the administrative panel set up to probe him.
“As a civil servant, he cannot remain in office while he is being probed. He was given only three months to step aside. He should abide by that decision, except his hands are not clean.”
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had suspended the Executive Secretary in June 2016 over similar allegations, but President Buhari later reinstated him.
His reinstatement by President Buhari, while he ignored the health minister, attracted condemnations from Nigerians who saw his reinstatement as a huge dent on the president’s anti-corruption crusade.
He was being probed for N919 million fraud at the time; but after his reinstatement, nothing was heard of the probe.
When the Governing Council addressed a press conference to announce his suspension on Thursday, the Chairperson said the Council derived its power from the NHIS Act.
Dr. Ifenne said: “Our power is derived from the law. We base our decisions on the provisions of the law. We base our decision on the provisions of the law that allow NHIS governing council to take expedite and appropriate actions to make sure that the objectives of the scheme are achieved.”
Fielding question further on what the council would do, should the presidency overrule its decision and reinstate him as it did earlier, Ifenne said she didn’t envisage such an action.
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