Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday accused the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) of squandering whooping N412 million on trainings and trips in one month.
It also accused the agency of illegal and lopsided appointments of some management staff of the agency.
At a session between the officials of NHIS and Senate Committee on Health, the committee accused the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Mr. Usman Yusuf, of violating the principles of federal character in recent appointments carried out by the scheme.
The committee, chaired by Senator Lanre Tejuosho, also queried the Scheme’s expenditure on trainings and travels.
But Yusuf denied the allegation of illegal recruitments, claiming that the new faces in the agency were only on “secondment” and
not on appointment.
The committee however, asked Yusuf if the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who was also
present at the meeting, was aware of the “secondments” done by Yusuf, to which he answered in the negative.
The committee queried why NHIS spent N412 million on trainings and trips only in October adding that it received a petition alleging that Yusuf increased the number of general managers of the
Scheme from 23 to 25, without observing federal character principle.
In the appointments, Yusuf was said to have increased the number of general managers from the North-central from three to five.
The petition also accused Yusuf of raising the number of general managers in North-east from three to
four and also increased those from North-west from six to nine while he reduced those from South-west from four to one and retain the three from the South-east. He was also said to have reduced those from South-south from four to three.
Responding, Yusuf said: “It will be good for the sake of fair hearing that I
get a copy of the petition before I respond (to the allegation). I am
not aware of any petition and I can only respond to the petition that
I can see and read. I need to know what is in the petition and where
the petition is coming from.”
However, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lekan Tejuoso, said Yusuf should be able to state if the statistics presented to him were correct or not without seeing the petition.
But he insisted that “I need fair hearing; I need to see a copy of that petition.”
But the committee declined showing him the petition, saying since the allegation
was against NHIS and Yusuf, they were not obliged to show him a copy of the petition.
Nevertheless, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, who is a member of the committee, said the committee would confirm the altruism of the allegation when it goes through the nominal roll of the scheme.
He however, regretted that the NHIS failed to provide its nominal roll,
which was the first information the committee requested from the Scheme.
Hence, the committee expressed displeasure over the failure of Yusuf to provide all the information requested from the management of NHIS and asked the management to reappear before
the panel to enable it verify the claims by the petitioner.
Therefore, the committee asked Yusuf to make the documents
available on Monday.