Five months after the panel set up by the Federal government to investigate the crisis in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) submitted its report, president Muhammadu Buhari is yet to act on the recommendations.
The probe panel led by Dr. Hassan Bukar on December 24, 2018 submitted its finding and recommendations to the federal government through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The panel among other things recommended the dismissal of the NHIS Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf for flagrant violation of the Public Procurement Act in the award of contracts. The panel also found Yusuf guilty of insubordination.
Part of the recommendations reads, “Relieve the executive secretary of his appointment. Justification: Inability to work in harmony with all the relevant stakeholders in the scheme for the attainment of the scheme’s mandate.
“Established cases of infractions of the Public Service Rules i.e. insubordination and refusal to carry out lawful instructions from superior authorities (governing council and the Federal Ministry of Health) contrary to PSR Rule 030301 (0), unauthorised public utterances contrary to Rule 030421 (id), and relevant service-wide circulars.
“Established cases of infraction of the following provisions of the Public Procurement Act: Sections 16(6) and 32(7).
“Infraction of Rule 3125(i) (a) and (b) of the Financial Regulations;
“Embarrassed government through unguarded social media comments.”
The panel also recommended the dissolution of the agency’s board on account of division within its ranks and overstepping its boundaries.
“Dissolve the governing council. Justification: The panel observed the role of the governing council in the present imbroglio and noted from the interactions that the council has become factionalised and is incapable of providing the required leadership for the scheme.
“The governing council embarrassed the government by exceeding its mandate when it suspended the executive secretary” it read.
The Health Insurance agency was in the past few years thrown into a crisis following running battles among the agency’s executive secretary, the board and the Minister of Health. The Secretary, Yusuf was accused of corruption and nepotism by staff and board of the agency. Yusuf was suspended in July 2017 by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole for misappropriating funds to the tune of over N900m belonging to the agency. However, the health Minister was overruled by president Buhari on his return from the United Kingdom where he had gone for medical treatment by recalling Yusuf.
Yusuf again ran into trouble when he was alleged to have awarded contracts worth N508m to consultants without due process prompting his suspension in November 2018 by President Buhari and a probe panel constituted to investigate the alleged infractions.
Buhari’s inaction on the report may not be unconnected with his unwillingness to deal with members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and cabals within his administration found wanting on corrupt practices.