President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the embattled Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, to proceed on administrative leave effective from November 5.
The directive was conveyed in a letter signed by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Wednesday. The letter was signed by the permanent secretary in the office, Olusegun Adekunle.
“This is to allow for unfettered investigation into allegations of infractions and financial malfeasance levelled against him by the Governing Council of the institution and other stakeholders,” Mr Adekunle noted.
“In his absence, Mr. Ben Omogo, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been deployed to oversee the affairs of the Scheme,” he added.
A seven-member panel has also been constituted to probe the allegations against Mr Yusuf.
The panel, headed by Hassan Bukar, has two weeks to submit its report.
The panel’s terms of reference include to investigate infractions alleged against the executive secretary and determine his culpability; identify, investigate and make recommendations on the issues that led to the frosty relations between the Governing Council and the ES; examine all governance challenges in NHIS and make appropriate recommendations among others.
The formal inauguration of the panel is scheduled for November 2 in the office of the SGF.
Mr Yusuf was suspended by the board of the NHIS on October 18 over alleged fraud and infractions. Its his second suspension over similar allegations since he assumed office in 2016. In both cases, he questioned the powers of the minister and the council to suspend him.
Read the full letter announcing the president’s position on Wednesday.
BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT
RE: SUSPENSION OF THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY (ES) OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME (NHIS)
The Federal Government has found it necessary to restate that the objective for establishing Parastatals is in fulfillment of the need to deliver services to Nigerians faster and better. It has also considered it necessary to restate that the roles of Governing Boards/Councils, are as prescribed by the statutes, guidelines and extant circulars and that the position of Chief Executives of Parastatals is to ensure that policies of Government as ennunciated by Boards and Councils are implemented in accordance with their mandate.
2. It 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 habour any acts of corruption. Government will however ensure that due process is followed strictly in trying to maintain discipline and probity in public service.
3. With specific reference to recent developments at the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. President has after due consideration approved the establishment of an independent fact-finding panel to investigate the alleged infractions by the Executive Secretary and report back within two weeks. The Membership of the Panel include:
(i) Dr. Hassan Bukar – Chairman
(ii) Dr. Emmanuel Meribole – Member
Director, HPRS, FMH
(iii) Mr. Adewale Owolo – Member
Director, Audit, (AuGF)
(iv) Mr. Shamsuddeen Bello, – Member
Deputy Director Expenditure (OAGF)
(v) Mr. Ishaq Yahaya – Member
Director, Certification & Compliance,
(vi) Dr. Ekanem John Udoh
Director of Science (FMS&T) – Member
(vii) Mrs. Jummai Idakwo – Member/Secretary
Director, Administration (OSGF)
TERMS OF REFERENCE (TOR)
(I) To investigate the alleged infractions listed by the NHIS Governing Council in letter dated 18th October, 2018 and determine the extent of culpability or otherwise of the Executive Secretary with regards to the allegations;
(II) To make appropriate recommendations based on the findings from TOR I above;
(III) To identify, investigate and make recommendations with regards to issues that led to the unhealthy relationship between the Board and the CEO;
(IV) Investigate and make recommendations on the extent of involvement of staff Unions’ within the institution as to the current impasse between the Governing Board and Executive Secretary; and
(V) To examine all governance challenges in the NHIS and make appropriate recommendations.
4. The Panel which is headed by a retired Permanent Secretary will be inaugurated by the SGF on Friday, 2nd November, 2018 at 3.00p.m. in the conference Room of the OSGF. With the establishment of this Panel, the earlier body set up by the Governing Council stands dissolved.
5. In order to create room for an unfettered investigation, Mr. President has approved that the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf should proceed on administrative leave immediately. In his absence, Mr. Ben Omogo, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been deployed to oversee the affairs of the Scheme.
6. Government recognises the importance of the Scheme as a strong mechanism for the delivery of public healthcare and wishes to re-assure all Nigerians of its determination to place high premium on public interest.
Olusegun A. Adekunle, Esq.
Permanent Secretary (General Services Office)
for: Secretary to the Government of the Federation