NHIS: Unions Insist on Suspension of Executive Secretary

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Two labour unions yesterday renewed their resolve to sustain their ongoing protest over the suspension of the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, by the Governing Council of the organisation.

The trade unions are the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN).

The Chairman of ASCSN, Mr. Abdulrazak Omomaji, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, while reacting to the statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.

Mustapha had on October 29 at a retreat for boards and governing councils as well as chief executives of MDAs clarified that as appointees of the President, the boards and councils have no power to suspend any chief executive without recourse to due process.

However, Omomaji said the union was still awaiting the federal government’s reaction to their demands over the allegations of maladministration against Yusuf.

He explained that the Act establishing the NHIS was unique that gives the governing council the powers to suspend the executive secretary.

“I want to clarify that the Act which establishes the NHIS is different from the other government parastatals, which are guided by boards and directors.

“The governing council of the NHIS however acted within its jurisdiction, they are the chief security officer of the organisation and have the powers to discipline and suspend.

“Let it be clear that Council has not removed Prof. Usman Yusuf, but have asked him to step aside for investigations after which findings will be forwarded to the Minister of Health.

“Council is therefore in order, and we shall continue with the protest as we await government’s reaction,’’ the chairman said.

The SGF had explained that ‘no governing board of a federal agency or parastatal has the power to remove the chief executive appointed by the President.

“The board may however, articulate infractions, investigate wrong doing and make recommendations to government through the supervisory minister,” Mustapha said.

The declaration came amidst controversy over the suspension of Yusuf by the NHIS governing council.

On October 18, the Chairman of the NHIS board, Mrs. Ifenne Enyanatu, announced the indefinite suspension of the executive secretary, eight months after a similar suspension by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, was annulled by the Presidency because due process was flawed.