Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, has been suspended indefinitely, nine months after he was reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in July last year and indicted for an alleged N919m fraud, was controversially reinstated by Buhari on February 6, 2018.
In a letter with a reference number, ‘SH/COS/10/6/A/29’, signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, the President had informed the minister of Yusuf’s recall, adding that he (Yusuf) had been “admonished to work harmoniously with the minister.”
However, the governing board of the NHIS on Thursday announced the indefinite suspension of Yusuf and appointed Sadiq Abubakar as the acting executive secretary.
At a briefing in Abuja, Thursday, the Chairman of the NHIS board, Dr Enyantu Ifenne, accused Yusuf of insubordination, fraud, arbitrariness and other corrupt practices.
Ifenne said, “The council has met. We have been inundated with petitions. We also observed some executive infractions that we cannot ignore, especially in an administration that is committed to transparency and accountability like Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
“So, with detailed examination or review of some of these documents, the council has made some landmark decisions. The first decision is that we have resolved to constitute an administrative panel of investigation immediately to examine the issues at stake.
“This administrative panel has three months to complete its assignment and report back to council to decide on the way forward.”
She said Yusuf was suspended to allow for unencumbered, unfettered space to do a thorough investigation.
“Also, I want you to know that we consulted and got the approval of the Honourable Minister of Health because we came to this decision,” she added.
Asked if the council had such powers, Ifenne responded: “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 questions on what the council would do, should the Presidency overrule its decision and reinstate Yusuf as it did earlier, Ifenne said she didn’t envisage such an action.
A document made available to journalists by the council detailed alleged offences of the suspended Executive Secretary.
Apart from several allegations of waste and corruption, he was also accused of attempting to illegally execute N30bn investment bonds; unlawful staff postings and wilful defiance of council’s directive, wilful refusal to implement council directive on the disbanding of illegal union and unauthorised staff travel in defiance of council directive. (Punch)