Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

NHIS Boss Tells Health Minister: You Cannot Suspend Me

NHIS Boss Tells Health Minister: You Cannot Suspend Me

In addition to reversing the suspension, the House also asked Adewole to halt the re-accreditation of Health Maintenance Organisations, HMOs, pending the outcome of its own investigation of the scheme.

There is a situation with the administration of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is brewing into a clash of powers that could stink.

The Minister of Health, Prof.

The crisis in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), deepened on Friday as the Executive Secretary of the agency, Usman Yusuf, has bluntly told the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, that he can not suspend him.

For months now, the NHIS has been enmeshed in a multi-dimensional crisis set off by allegations of N860m procurement fraud and other breaches of procedure involving the Executive Secretary, Prof Usman Yusuf.

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Consequently, the House, which vehemently condemned his suspension at plenary, said he was being witch-hunted with intent to punish him administratively for speaking out.

According to him, only the president had the power to suspend him from office.

Yusuf disclosed this in a letter written on Wednesday, July 12, saying he would not comply with the order.

"With utmost respect sir, I am unable to comply with your directive".

Being an agency under the authority of the Presidency, the Acting President apparently is exercising the privilege of the President according to the NHIS Act, which Prof Yusuf has quoted in his statement of defiance of the Minister's suspension. "Usman Yusuf, from suspension forthwith and allow him to continue with his sanitisation programme in the agency". Otherwise, with over 18,000 petitions pending against public office holders before the EFCC and ICPC as at the end of June 2017, the total number of public officers who would have been on suspension by now including Honourable Ministers is left to be imagined.

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Yusuf, a professor of Paediatrics, who came on board the scheme previous year, was given a marching order by Adewole, a professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, to proceed on suspension for three months following mounting petitions against alleged fraudulent practices and nepotism by concerned groups.

"The NHIS is an agency supervised by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Administrative Panel of Inquiry raised by the Ministry to investigate activities of the agency has commenced its assignment with specific terms of reference", the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the position of the House of Representatives that he should be reinstated, has been condemned by a civil society group who said the resolution was one which encouraged corruption.

In the three paragraph letter entitled "Suspension from Office" and addressed to Prof Yusuf, Adewole said, "I refer to the series of petitions against you which were forwarded for your comments". The fund in possession of NHIS is a Contributory Fund by Nigerian workers.

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