From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has finally waded into the crisis at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by suspending the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Dr Usman Yusuf, and setting up an independent fact-finding panel to investigate the allegation of fraud levelled against him.
A Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Ben Omogo, has also been deployed to oversee the affairs of the scheme.
A press statement titled ‘Re: Suspension of the Executive Secretary (ES) of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)’, which was signed by Mr. Olusegun A. Adekunle, the Permanent Secretary (General Services Office) for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said President Buhari approved the establishment of the probe panel after due consultation.
The seven-man panel headed by Dr Hassan Bukar, a retired Permanent Secretary, has two weeks to submit its report.
Other members of the panel include Dr Emmanuel Meribole, Adewale Owolo, Shamsuddeen Bello, Ishaq Yahaya, Dr Ekanem John Udoh and Mrs Jummai Idakwo, who will serve as secretary.
The panel will be inaugurated by the SGF Boss Mustapha on Friday.
While reiterating that it will neither tolerate acts of indiscipline from any appointee nor will it allow corruption, government restated that the roles of governing boards of parastatals were prescribed in the statutes, guidelines and extant circulars.
It stated that the position of chief executives of agencies and parastatals were implemented in accordance with their mandate.
The statement said government will ensure that due process is followed strictly in trying to maintain discipline and probity in public service.
Among other terms of reference, the panel will investigate the alleged infractions listed by the NHIS Governing Council in a letter dated October 18, 2018, and determine the extent of culpability or otherwise of Yusuf with regards to the allegations.
It is to also investigate the issues that led to the unhealthy relationship between the Board and the CEO, establish the role of staff union in the impasse and examine all governance challenges in the NHIS and make appropriate recommendations.
NHIS was last week embroiled in crisis,
after the scheme’s governing cuncil, suspended Yusuf for allegedly committing fraud.
The crisis reached a boiling point, when the latter refused to embark on suspension as ordered. Instead, accompanied by a team of policemen, he forced his way to his office, prompting a rowdy protest by the staff union.