National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf, is at the moment locked in a battle with the Governing Council of the agency over a N30 billion residual fund and another N17million allegedly blown on a trip to Geneva, Switzerland by Prof. Usman Yusuf.
As a result, the Council has issued the NHIS boss a query dated May 25, 2018 demanding explanations on the N30 billion and another dated June 4, 2018 asking Prof. Usman to explain why he blew N17 million on a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, without approval.
The latest controversy is coming barely five months after the NHIS boss was recalled by the presidency from an indefinite suspension slammed on him by his supervising ministry.
Saturday Sun newspaper reports that, according to the first query signed by the Chairman of Council, Dr Enyantu Ifenne and seen by them, the NHIS boss was accused of procedural gaps, deceit and violation of Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy in engaging Cowry Asset Management Ltd as asset manager/financial adviser to invest the controversial N30billion.
This is in addition to approving the payment of N2.4million engagement fee and N500,000 quarterly retainership fee for Cowry Asset Management Ltd on May 8.
The Council argued that this was in clear violation of a specific directive from the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole stopping NHIS from tampering with the N30billion residual fund.
The TSA policy requires all federal ministries, departments and agencies to domicile their funds in the TSA with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except where the agency is granted exemption by the Federal Government.
But Yusuf, who was suspended by Adewole last year over corruption allegations and nepotism, has defended himself saying the Health Minister gave his approval for the investment of the N30billion.
An emailed reply to the Council on May 19, 2018, on why he traveled to Geneva without the required approval, Prof Yusuf said he got his approval to travel via a letter signed by “the Permanent Secretary FMoH on the authority of the Honourable Minister.”
According to him “The World Health Assembly is an annual event attended by Ministers of Health from over 94 member nations. Nigeria’s delegations include the Hon. Minister of Health as the leader of the delegation and the Heads of Agencies under the Ministry.
Responding to a similar allegation recently, Prof Yusuf had said that his mandate in the NHIS remains to sanitise the system and grow the scheme, while accusing those reporting him to the media as corrupt Nigerians who wanted the status quo to remain.
“They won’t have the time to do all the nonsense they did in the past. Every penny will be taken back into the scheme. I am in NHIS to do the right thing. And I will do it transparently. I will follow what the NHIS Act says. Corruption will no longer be condoned in this scheme,” he said.
On concerns that the yield on the investment was meant to stockpile funds for Buhari’s re-election bid, as speculated, the NHIS boss said:
“This is not the Jonathan era. They think Buhari will do that nonsense? Where we come from, we are brought up well.
NHIS money is blood money, and it is meant to serve our people. Billions have been stolen. Now I am here as the chief executive officer, I will grow the scheme for our people. Every penny that comes in as an investment will be shown to the world, not all the nonsense they did in the past.”