By Kate Obande-Okewu
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja ordered Prof. Usman Yusuf, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to immediately proceed on administrative leave.
Buhari gave the order in a statement signed by Mr Olusegun Adekunle, Permanent Secretary, General Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).
He further directed that Mr. Ben Omogo, Director, Administration Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), should oversee the affairs of the scheme.
He said that the leave was to ensure unfettered investigation by the Independent Fact-Finding Panel to be inaugurated on Friday.
The panel, to be headed by Dr. Hassan Bukar, has Mrs Jummai Idakwo, OSGF as the Secretary.
Members are Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, Director, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Adewale Owolo, Director, Audit, Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF), Mr. Shamsuddeen Bello, Deputy Director, Expenditure, OAGF.
Other members are Mr Ishaq Yahaya, Director, Certification & Compliance, Bureau of Public Procurement, and Dr Ekanem John Udoh, Director, Science, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
One of the terms of reference (TOR) of the panel are to investigate the alleged infractions listed by the NHIS Governing Council in its letter dated Oct. 18, 2018 and determine the extent of culpability or otherwise of the Executive Secretary with regards to the allegations.
It is mandated to make appropriate recommendations based on the findings from TOR I, identify, investigate and make recommendations with regards to issues that led to the unhealthy relationship between the board and the Chief Executive Officer.
The panel is further to Investigate and make recommendations on the extent of the involvement of staff Unions’ within the institution as to the current impasse between the Governing Board and Executive Secretary and to examine all governance challenges in the NHIS and make appropriate recommendations.
The president directed that with the establishment of this panel which has two weeks to report its findings, the earlier body set up by the Governing Council stood dissolved.
He added that the government recognised the importance of the scheme as a strong mechanism for the delivery of public healthcare and reassured Nigerians of the determination of the government determination to place high premium on public interest.
The president said that the Federal Government had found it necessary to restate that the objectives for establishing Parastatals was in fulfillment of the need to deliver services to Nigerians faster and better.
He added that government had also considered it necessary to restate that the roles of Governing Boards and Councils were as prescribed by the statutes, guidelines and extant circulars.
He added that the position of chief executives of Parastatals was to ensure that policies of government as enunciated by boards and councils were implemented in accordance with their mandate.
“Government, has however, observed with deep concern, the growing tension between boards and chief executives and their attendant implications for governance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, government will neither tolerate acts of indiscipline from any appointee nor will it harbour any acts of corruption.
“Government will, however, ensure that due process is followed strictly in trying to maintain discipline and probity in public service,” the president said.