James Emejo in Abuja
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Heath Services, Hon. Chike Okafor, wednesday summoned the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to among other things, clarify the rationale behind their decision to classify the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a revenue generating institution which should pay operating surplus to the federation account.
Also summoned are the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris.
They are to appear at a yet to be determined date.
The committeeâ€™s resolution followed the submission of the newly reinstated Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, who appeared before it to give an update on the status of the re-accreditation exercise for Health Management Organisations (HMOs) which had been suspended at the instance of the committee to allow for proper audit of their activities which had been below expectations.
The committee had further demanded clarification on a recent online report that the executive secreatry had been indicted in a fresh N10 billion fraud at the agency.
However, Yusuf had dismissed the online publication as malicious and untrue.
He said funds under the NHIS is a trust which must be taken seriously, adding that he would never allow such fraud to happen under his watch.
According to him, the N10 billion in question was deducted from its TSA account with the CBN by the Ministry of Finance, which had informed him via a letter that the NHIS ought to be a revenue generating agency and by implication, ought to pay its operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
Yusuf said he had since protested the inclusion of the scheme among revenue earners as this is not encapsulated in the Act establishing the scheme.
He noted that there had since been tripatite meetings involving it, the AGF and finance ministry in order to resolve the matter and get its monies returned.
â€œFellow Nigerians, itâ€™s not missing,â€ he said.
Nevertheless, a member of the committee, Hon. Busayo Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun), moved a motion to summon the ministers and other stakeholders to explain the reason for grouping the NHIS as a revenue generator required to pay premium.
Okafor, however, decried a situation where the NHIS funds had been allowed to lay idle at the CBN without concrete efforts to grow them.
He said unless urgent step are taken, inflation and other variables could make the funds lose value in the near future- and hamper the schemeâ€™s mandate.
On the re-accreditation of the 57 HMOs whose licences had expired since last December, Yusuf said preliminary report on their evaluation had been submitted and is being considered.
He said one of the conditions they must meet is the provision of a certificate of non-indebted from the hospitals they served- adding that he had almost become a debt collector as a result of the failings of the HMOs.
He warned the HMOs to either sit up or â€œbe guest of Ibrahim Magu if they donâ€™t sit up. I am tired of being a debt collector.â€