NHIS: Corruption rears its ugly head again threatening our healthcare system

Usman Yusuf, NHIS

Eight months after his recall from his first suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Professor Usman Yusuf was placed on an indefinite suspension on Thursday October 18, 2018 by the Governing Board of the NHIS. His offences ranged from corruption, abuse of office, nepotism among others. According to the Board, its decision came to fore after considering myriads of petitions against the NHIS chief. However, like his first suspension that was botched by the Presidency, it seems the same is happening with the latest suspension.

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In a letter dated October 19, 2018. The suspended Executive Secretary replied the letter of suspension sent to him by the Board. In that letter, he rejected the suspension quoting some section of the constitution and the public service act that empowers the President and not the Governing board to hire and fire him and he has since resumed office. At this juncture, it is important the Presidency enforce the suspension and total removal of the NHIS chief from office. This is important for another independent body to probe the activities of this man based on the offences listed against him. The first panel set up by the Minister for Health accused him of misappropriating 919 million Naira that’s almost one billion but he was returned to the office where there were report that on resumption from suspension he collected all salaries and allowances due to him while on suspension.

The second panel has found him guilty again of more offences than before. While the NHIS Executive Secretary has a right to defend himself, it is important the Presidency effect his removal from that office for two major reasons. One, to discourage others from committing acts of executive disobedience towards their respective governings board as this recurrent disobedience by Prof. Yusuf is sending a bad signal about the absence of discipline in Nigeria’s public service. Two, to prevent the further damage to the already dented anti-corruption stand of this administration as the offences committed by this man needs to be urgently investigated.

The President must effect the removal of Professor Usman Yusuf for an independent investigation into his activities since assumption of office.

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