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 alleged fraud levelled against him.
In Yusuf’s absence, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Ben Omogo, has been deployed to oversee the affairs of the scheme.
A statement issued yesterday by the Permanent Secretary (General Services Office) for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Olusegun A. Adekunle, stated that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the establishment of the panel after due consultation.
The seven-man panel, which will submit its report within two weeks, is to be headed by Dr. Hassan Bukar, a retired Permanent Secretary.
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 act as the panel’s secretary.
The panel will be inaugurated by the SGF, Boss Mustapha on Friday.
Though government reiterated that it will neither tolerate acts of indiscipline from any appointee nor will it permit corruption, the statement restated that the roles of governing boards of parastatals are prescribed in the statutes, guidelines and extant circulars.
It stated that the position of chief executives of agencies and parastatals are implemented in accordance with their mandate.
The statement vowed it 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.