by Alexander O. Onukwue
Prof Usman Yusuf, the suspended Executive Secretary of the NHIS, is refusing to go and claims he is being victimised for fighting corruption.
That is, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole – who is serving the Buhari/Osinbajo administration – is seeking to remove from office because he is fulfilling one of the core focus points of the administration, anti-corruption.
Prof Yusuf’s corruption fight in the agency is supposedly focused on revising the many ghost health insurance claimants and dismantling the non-functional Health Management Organisations involved in the Health Insurance industry in Nigeria. There have been various complaints against the insurers in Nigeria’s health industry, many of who allegedly collect fees from the scheme but do not provide the services which customers demand.
But according to a source who spoke to The Cable, the NHIS boss was actually planning his getaway scheme, despite the defiant stand that he will not respect on any suspension. The source alleged that “Prof Yusuf has already moved out three Ghana Must Go bags containing among other things many documents and the files of all GMs. The location he’s keeping them is unknown till date against all civil service rules.”
The other allegations of corruption against Prof Yusuf, still from an informant to The Cable, involve the wrongful approval for the procurement of a N58 million SUV. Apparently, the Executive Secretary does not have the power to authorise such high expenditures but he went ahead to approve the purchase anyway.
Prof Usman Yusuf was appointed NHIS Executive Secretary by President Buhari in July 2016, with the reputation of a professional in the medical field, practising overseas. Prof Yusuf’s problems began in March of 2017 when the Senate constituted a five-member ad-hoc committee to investigate him over allegations of financial and administrative abuses.
The Senate’s inquiry into the expenditures approved by Prof Yusuf pointed at various sums of money in hundreds of millions of naira for expenditures which, amongst other things, included the branding of T-shirts and face caps “despite the presidential order banning promotional items and souvenirs”. This motion was led at the time by Kabiru Marafa of the APC-Zamfara State.
Senator Marafa listed some other allegations against the NHIS boss, including irregularities in promotion. According to Premium Times, the Senator took up the cause of bringing a case against Prof Yusuf after the HMOs initially went through Senator Lanre Tejuoso of APC-Ogun.
It appears the Senate and the House of Representatives seem to have differing views on the matter. Whatever their differences, the Acting President and the Minister of Health are intent on proceeding with an investigation into Prof Yusuf.