The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Attahiru Ibrahim, have been summoned to the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Head of Media and Public Relations of the scheme, Ayo Osinlu, disclosed this to to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) wednesday.
This could be in relation to the reinstatement of the suspended Executive Secretary of the organisation, Usman Yusuf, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Osinlu said Yusuf had not reported to the office since his reinstatement
“NHIS Executive Secretary, Yusuf, is yet to resume office after his reinstatement by the federal government on Tuesday, February 6,” the agency quoted him to have said.
“The acting Executive Secretary, Ibrahim, and health minister, Adewole, were invited to the Presidential Villa and we are waiting for the outcome of the meeting.”
In July, Adewole suspended Yusuf for three months over allegations of fraud.
Adewole had set up a committee to probe the NHIS ES. The minister said the investigative committee found Yusuf culpable in the discharge of his responsibilities.
At the end of the three months, the minister extended the suspension indefinitely.
The minister said while the report of the committee had been forwarded to the president, Yusuf’s suspension had been extended “pending the decision of the president.”
The executive secretary had challenged the authority of Adewole, arguing that only Buhari could take such action against him.
He had said the allegations referred to by the minister were also being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), which had not submitted its findings as of the time he was asked to step aside.
But Adewole said Yusuf’s response to the petition was unsatisfactory.
His reinstatement sparked outrage across the country, with some saying Buhari recalled him because he is from the president’s state of Katsina.
Insiders had told TheCable that since Yusuf was appointed on July 29, 2016, he had been violating every procurement law, dishing out contracts to cronies.
TheCable learnt that the final straw was the purchase of a Prado SUV by Yusuf for N58 million shortly before Ramadan, even though his approval limit was N2.5 million.
A number of Prado SUVs were attached to his office, but he still went ahead to buy a new one, according to insiders.
Yusuf had denied all the allegations, maintaining that he was victimised for fighting corruption in NHIS.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, yesterday in Abuja said he was not aware that the reinstated Executive Secretary of NHIS was being investigated by an anti-graft agency.
Mohammed who made the remark while answering questions from State House correspondents, however, said if he is indeed being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), his reinstatement won’t stop his probe.
“I am not aware that the EFCC is investigating the recently reinstated Executive Secretary of NHIS but if that is the case, I don’t think his reinstatement is a bar to any investigation.
“I didn’t say I’m not aware of his investigation. I said by EFCC. I was precise. I said I am not aware that the EFCC is investigating him and that if it is true, that the fact that he has been reinstated does not mean a stop to it. “That is what I said. I am not saying I’m not aware that he was suspended or any investigation is going on. The fact that he has been reinstated does not mean that the EFCC will not continue with its investigation, that is what I said,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has chided the presidency for reinstating Yusuf.
The PDP, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the presidency’s action as shocking, scandalous and a mockery of justice.
The party also mocked the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled federal government for allegedly covering up a cabinet minister reported to have bought a property worth N280 million in Abuja from alleged corrupt enrichment.
“The presidency stinks of corruption and has lost all claim of fighting graft, as long as it continues to protect indicted officials of the APC administration,” the statement added.
The PDP added that it was disgusting that the same presidency that is brandishing a medal of African Union Anti-Corruption champion, would short-circuit the processes, arm-twist anti-graft agencies and pull out an indicted government official, while he was still a guest at the EFCC where he was being grilled for his alleged malfeasance.
The statement said, “This is a government official probed and thoroughly indicted for abuse of office and fraud to the tune of N919 million by a committee set up by the minister of health, comprising senior officials of the Health ministry, Department of State Services (DSS), and the ICPC and which report was submitted to the president last September
Also, labour, under the umbrella of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), yesterday questioned the recall of Yusuf, by President Buhari.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, ASCSN Secretary-General, Alade Bashir Lawal, said the action of the president was capable of being interpreted to mean that the government’s anti-graft war was selective and designed to deal with specific targets.
“How can a government official being investigated for a whopping sum of N919 million fraud by the EFCC)be reinstated by the Government that came to power promising to sanitise the system,” Lawal said.
“This is very unfortunate. We, therefore, urge President Buhari to rescind his action and allow Yusuf to leave the system in peace.”
The union also regretted that the action of Mr. President was capable of lending credence to Professor Yusuf’s “arrogant public statements several times that he could not report to the Minister of Health since he dealt directly with Mr. President.
“Thus, if Yusuf resumes as Executive Secretary of NHIS, it will amount to passing a vote of no confidence on the minister.
“What type of a government are we claiming to be running that anyone who is close to the president will become lawless, will not obey public service rules, nor report to the supervisory minister, running a government agency as his personal estate because he is close to the powers that be.
“This is the type of action that continues to give the likes of United States President, Donald Trump, the effrontery to be deriding Africa and its leaders.”
According to the ASCSN, the investigative panel set up by the Minister of Health to look into the atrocities of Professor Yusuf which include engaging a consultancy firm in which he is alleged to have vested interests is serious public demeanour that should not be condoned.
The union’s statement added: “It is also on record that Yusuf had recruited persons from his primordial constituency who are on grade level 10 in the state public service and imposed them on the staff of the NHIS by placing them on grade level 15 and above.
“This is one intervention too many and as such Mr. President should allow Yusuf to retire from service to have time to run his personal business.”
This Day News