The embattled Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has been accused of ‘illegally’ suspending the Executive Secretary (ES) of National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, for refusing to accede to series of demand for money to fund contract and other expenses in the ministry.
According to a letter made available to THE ICON, Adewole through the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry – Binta Bello, had on the 12th of May, 2017 requested Yusuf to authorize the release of $37,383 and N4,080,000 for oversea traveling of six delegates of the ministry to a World Health Organization conference scheduled to hold in Geneva, Switzerland between 22nd and 31st of May 2017.
It was gathered that the request ran contrary to an existing government circular from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) directing Ministers not to pressurize their parastatals to sponsor such requests.
THE ICON gathered that the NHIS boss refused to honour or act on the letter, given the above reason.
In another letter dated March 28th, 2017 with Ref. No: DFA/CORR/001, the Minister wrote to the NHIS boss through the Permanent Secretary, directing him to pay the sum of N197,072,500 only for rehabilitation works in some Federal Medical Centers (FMCs), contract awarded by the Ministry in 2016 and directed him to pay the money to the Ministry’s Account Number: 0020155061015 in the CBN, when there is no budgetary provision for this payment in the NHIS 2016 budget.
THE ICON gathered that the NHIS boss inquired from the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) in the FMCs as to whether there were such projects being executed, but they all confirmed to the contrary.
A source in the Ministry of Health, described the requested sum for FMCs contract payment “as a conduit to siphon tax payers money by the Ministry.”
The source added that the Minister had also violated the Civil Service Regulation on the relationship between ministries and parastatals by requesting for two Toyota Prado SUVs, on loan, from NHIS pending the completion of the Ministry’s procurement processes.
The source revealed further 20 months after, the Minister has not returned the vehicles but they are been fueled, serviced and insured by NHIS enrollees’ money.
The source said: “An official vehicle was purchased for the ES two months ago at the cost of N49.1million which is well within the limit of NHIS Tenders Board. Interestingly, the ES has never used it since its delivery two months ago, it is parked in the NHIS parking lot”
On why the NHIS boss bought the vehicle, the source said: “When Prof. Yusuf assumed office on 1st August 2016; we did not have an official vehicle for him. Because, on 16th November 2015, the Minister of Health requested from the NHIS two vehicles for his and the Permanent Secretary Health’s use, on loan, until the Ministry finished its procurement process.
“The Auditor General’s 2015 periodic check on the NHIS recommended the immediate retrieval of these vehicles from the ministry of health as it is a violation of Civil Service Regulation on the relationship between a Ministry and its Parastatal.
“However, twenty months later, these vehicles are still with them and are fueled, serviced and insured by NHIS enrollees’ money.”
It could be recalled that the House of Representatives has ordered the Minister of Health to, within 7 days, recall the suspended NHIS boss and to allow him to continue with his sanitization programme in the agency.
The lawmakers alleged that the NHIS helmsman’s refusal to accede to series of demand for money by the Minister led to his suspension.
See attached documents…