President Muhammadu Buhari has finally intervened in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) leadership crisis. The President, on Wednesday, directed the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Usman Yusuf, to proceed on administrative leave effective from November 5. A panel has also been set up to investigate the allegations against him.
Backstory: The directive was conveyed in a letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and was signed by the permanent secretary in the office, Olusegun Adekunle.
The letter explained that the directive “is to allow for unfettered investigation into allegations of infractions and financial malfeasance leveled against him by the Governing Council of the institution and other stakeholders.”
“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.”
A panel was also constituted to probe the allegations against Yusuf. The panel, to be headed by Hassan Bukar, will have two weeks to submit its findings.
What the panel will do:
- Investigate infractions alleged against the executive secretary and determine his culpability.
- Identify, investigate, and make recommendations on the issues which have led to the unstable relations between the Governing Council of the NHIS and the Yusuf.
- Examine all governance challenges within 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. This is Yusuf’s second suspension over similar allegations since he assumed office in 2016.
Bottom Line: Yusuf had previously said that only the president could suspend him even as observers wondered why it seemed as though the presidency was blind to the situation at the NHIS. There were even concerns that Yusuf had the backing of the villa, especially because he was escorted into the NHIS premises by armed policement following his suspension by the board. Citizens who have been closely following this saga would now switch attention to the administrative committee and see how the situation is handled going forward.