By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, who was directed to proceed on administrative leave by President Muhammadu Buhari, has said that his suspension by the Governing Board was a ploy to cover up high level corruption at the agency.
Appearing Friday before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the alleged fraud at NHIS, Yusuf
said his suspension on October 18, 2018 was deliberately planned because he was to present a report on the violation of the public procurement processes and forensic result on the activities of HMOs at the agency to the board same day.
“Why was I suspended on October 18 and not 19? October 18 was the day I was going to present a result of the forensic audit of the activities of HMOs. It was a preemptive coup at the NHIS. It was a gang up to stop my fight against corruption”, he alleged.
He further alleged that his refusal to release N975million to the Ministry of Health was also part of the reasons he became a target.
“This led to the setting up of a panel to probe me and the panel delivered as the panelists were given N19m and even the security too were given money,” Yusuf alleged, adding that it was “a preemptive coup against transparency.”
Urging the committee to invite the ICPC and the EFCC to clarify issues, Yusuf said the two anti-graft bodies had given him a clean bill of health on the allegations leveled against him.
“These are all allegations that have been recycled. They were all investigated by the ICPC and EFCC; and they found nothing and I was cleared. They wrote to me clearing me,” he said.
Represented by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Alhaji Abdulaziz Abdullahi, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, insisted that Yusuf was suspended for his financial recklessness and refusal to follow due process.
He alleged that the embattled executive secretary approved a N210m contract for electronic media, and singlehandedly made his brother media consultant to NHIS.
The minister also said Yusuf did not carry out his statutory functions as an accounting officer pursuant to 20(1) and (2) of PPA 2007 saying “All the allegations levelled against him are correct.”
However, the chairman, National Civil Service Union (NCSU), Mr. Shehu Gajo, contended that Yusuf was not given a fair hearing.
He said the Association of Senior Civil Servants had imbibed the habit of frustrating previous executive secretaries of the agency.
“Right from the days of Femi Thomas when the agency was created; once management fails to meet up to its bidding, the association crushes such a management”.
Also on Friday, the adhoc committee invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to appear before it on the issue.
The committee chairman, Hon. Ossai Ossai, who spoke at the ongoing hearing, said Mustapha and Emefiele should assist the committee with what they know about the agency.