Buhari Snubs Health Minister, Re-instates Suspended NHIS boss

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Buhari Snubs Health Minister, Re-instates Suspended NHIS boss

President Muhammadu Buhari has reinstated the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf.

Mr. Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in June 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct.

A panel commissioned by the minister after Mr. Yusuf’s suspension later found him culpable of infractions that ranged from nepotism to theft of public funds.

Professor Yusuf was suspended in June last year by the Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole. A committee set up by the minister accused Prof Yusuf of “corrupt expenditure of N292 million allegedly spent on health care training “without recourse to any appropriate approving authority.” Prof Yusuf denied these allegations.

Official documents analysed by this newspaper show that the NHIS chief incurred the wrath of the ministry for refusing to grant the health ministry’s various requests of sponsorship of its officials to foreign events, hiring of aircrafts for the minister, among others.

This development angered the ministry officials, particularly the health minister Professor Isaac Adewole. 

Dozens official correspondence between the ministry of health and NHIS showed that the Scheme had spent hundreds of millions of naira in sponsorship of health ministry’s officials despite a 2008 federal government circular that prohibited such actions.

The prohibition circular with Ref.No.SGF.6/VIII, dated May 8, 2008, entitled “Need for strict adherence to financial regulations in cooperation between MDAs and other arms of government and between MDAs their parastatals,” was signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. 

But despite this circular, Daily Trust investigations revealed that the federal ministry of health has written so many letters requesting for sponsorship of trips of their officials to conferences abroad.

Official vouchers analysed by this newspaper showed that NHIS had paid hundreds of millions to these ministry officials.

From September 2015 to November 2016, the NHIS former acting Executive Secretary had severally approved between N3 million to N15million for the ministry, far above his approval limit of N2.5 million.

Health minister Adewole was one of the beneficiaries of these illegal payments. For instance, on November 19, 2015, the ministry via a letter with Ref.No.MH.8500/TI, requested N5million from NHIS as support to attend WHO meeting in Chad.

The scheme approved N5.1million on November 23, 2015 for the ministry, out of which N2 million was paid directly to the personal account of the minister domiciled in Stanbic IBTC.

But trouble started for the new NHIS boss, Prof Yusuf in March 18, 2017, when the minister requested for N197 million from the scheme “intervention fund” to execute some projects located across seven Federal Medical Centres.

Attempts to speak to Yusuf or any official of the NHIS was not successful last night

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