NHIS: Two professors, Isaac Adewole, Usman Yusuf in fiesty cold war

*I am not responsible to you minister told

By Olajide Fashikun

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, have been in a cold war of supremacy battle.

By role specification, the Ministry of Health supervises the NHIS. Yusuf has told those who wish to hear that he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to salvage the scheme which had been allegedly riddled with fraud. He has also refused to be responsible to the minister or the ministry of Health. That he is responsible only to the president.

In carrying out his duties, www.gongnews.net investigated and reported how the NHIS boss breached every rule that established the organisation and boycotts the Ministry of Health. For instance, he employed 15 staffers from outside from the north against the prescription of Federal Character as well as beyond the limit of his office.

According to our source, Yusuf flouted a recent instruction from the minister. He was asked to restore Ilorin as one of the two regional offices for North Central but he refused.

Also, there is the issue of the 15 people on secondment to the agency at Yusuf’s instance. The Executive Secretary brought in the 15 people from outside to occupy positions that were not vacant after a bogus secondment.

Some NHIS workers kicked against the action and petitioned the minister who in turn directed Yusuf to reverse his action as it did not follow laid down civil service rules of personnel engagement.

The alleged tension between Adewole and Yusuf is reportedly fuelled by corrupt officials who do not want sanity restored in the NHIS.

The convener of Governance with Responsibility Project, an NGO, Mr. Funsho Tajudeen, in a statement, warned that the sour relationship between Adewole and Yusuf could threaten the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government’s agenda on healthcare.

While acknowledging that both professors are men of integrity, Tajudeen said some corrupt elements in the health insurance industry were desperately trying to create a wedge between Adewole and Yusuf by leveraging on primordial sentiments.

While attempting to douse the report, a senior official in the ministry told www.gongnews.net that there is no tension between the two Professors of Medicine saying, “Prof. Yusuf, on Tuesday, complied with Prof. Adewole’s directive to remove the 15 workers he brought into the scheme, which was part of the issues in the petition raised against him by protesting workers. Besides, he has also reversed to the old arrangement of two zonal offices for North Central zone,” the source said.

Tajudeen raised other salient issues, amongst which was the alleged diversion of huge funds meant for the agency’s operation. Among the sharp practices raging in NHIS, according to him, are the unauthorised/unbudgeted and illegal payment of N1.05 billion to Health Management Organisations (HMOs), under the guise of arrears, as reported by the 2015 Auditor-General of the federation’s report.

On 22nd December, 2014 the sum of N193.3 billion was paid into a fixed deposit account with 11 banks at 2% interest rate, at the time when the CBN’s prevailing interest rate was 9.2 per cent, it was alleged.

As at 31st March, 2015, more than 70% of HMO’s refused to pay hospitals that rendered services to enrollees – N2,442,891,628.95 for capitation and N298,334,233.01 for service in 19 northern states and N318,428,275.75 for  capitation and N49,936,529.29 for service in 17 southern states.

This is all despite that all HMO’s collected billions of Naira in 2015 and 2016. Thus, the total amount due to hospitals and being held illegally by some HMO’s, from the verification conducted in March 2017, stands at N3,109, 590,667.00.

An undeveloped land adjacent to NHIS head office in Utako, Abuja was purchased at N90 million vide a voucher, dated 12th January, 2015, when the amount in the 2015 NHIS budget was N500 million. Even then, there was neither ministerial nor FEC approval for the purchase, it was alleged.

ICPC investigation: All decisions were approved by the management committee who are unauthorised for that volume of expenditure. ICPC interim report, dated 15th November, 2015, reference No: ICPC/P/NC557/2015, captured the scenario aptly. N10.085 billion of NHIS money with Heritage Bank (account 5900000386) is still being held by the bank more than 14 months after the start of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). This is despite a written undertaking by the bank to transfer the money to the TSA.

Not less than N11.297 billion is being withheld by a bank. The money is neither transferred to TSA nor accessible to NHIS, according to the document.

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