Reps probe NHIS fraud scandal
Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously resolved to investigate the lingering crisis bedevilling National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) bothering on financial impropriety.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion of national urgent importance titled: ‘Urgent need to prevent the NHIS from degenerating into a theatre of war, sponsored by Diri Douye (PDP-Bayelsa).
In his lead debate, Duoye noted that the governing council of NHIS on 18th October, 2018, announced the suspension of Usman Yusuf, NHIS Executive Secretary over alleged fraudulent activities and infractions.
He also noted that prior to that, the council has also issued the Executive Secretary series of queries demanding explanations on the alleged infractions which he didn’t respond to.
The lawmaker recalled that the latest pandemonium comes moths after the Executive Secretary was controversially reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari following his suspension by the Ministry of Health over similar allegations.
“The House takes cognizance that the governing council of the National Health Insurance Scheme announced the suspension of Prof. Usman Yusuf over allegations of fraud and severe infractions, including but not limited to public procurement infringements, unlawful staff posting, will full defiance of Council’s directives, violation of Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account policy and superfluous arrogation of projects;
“The House is aware that the council had issued the Executive Secretary queries dated May 25, 2018 and another June 4, 2018, prior to the suspension.
“Again the House is aware that the latest pandemonium is coming barely five months after the NHIS Executive Secretary was controversially reinstated by President Buhari from an indefinite suspension slammed on him by his supervising Ministry of Health, in July 2017 over similar alleged gross misconduct, corruption and nepotism.
Duoye noted that the suspended NHIS accounting officer defied the authority of the Goberning Council to suspend him by violently breaking into the Abuja Head office of the scheme aided by heavily armed police who indiscriminately tear-gassed and manhandled staff.
The lawmaker further expressed concern that the agency on which the hope of the nation’s universal health delivery is hinged, far from being a theatre of health has generated into a theatre of war.
In his intervention, Toby Okechukwu (PDP-Enugu) bemoaned the circumstances surrounding the crisis which according to him bothers on issues of leader, lack of capacity and corruption which is the major platform on which the APC government was voted in.
“The major platform which the government came to power is to fight corruption and it is sad that this agency is embroiled in controversy over issue of procurement and travel cost running into 17 million naira; something is really wrong.
“If the council and the head of the agency can’t find necessary to provide services to Nigerians, then they shouldn’t be there”.
On his part, Edward Pwajok (APC-Plateau) who cautioned for the House to await the outcome of the investigation before arriving at a position, pointed out that the Act establishing the scheme is unclear whether the council has the power to suspend the Executive Secretary as such, the need for the investigation.
Pwajok also stressed that the investigation would enable the House determine whether the allegations made on the Executive Secretary is true or not even as it would determine if there is a need for the act to be amended.
In adopting the motion, the House resolved to constitute an Ad-hoc committee to probe the crisis as well as the scheme’s operations.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja
Big Read |