……..Agency struggles with angry individuals deleted from enrollees register
The crisis rocking the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) seems not have abated , with the Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf and the immediate past, Acting Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr. Attahiru Ibrahim, exchanging accusations of fraud.
Yusuf , who was recently reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari, to the chagrin of unions in the agency had asked the NHIS Governing Council chaired by Dr. Enyatu Ifenne to take disciplinary actions against Ibrahim and three other directors.
The NHIS, Executive-Secretary alleged that the top management officials paid upfront a lawyer they engaged to defend the agency in a case instituted by immediate past E.S of the agency, Femi Thomas, over his removal in April 2015, Premium Times reports.
In December 2017, the National Industrial Court gave judgment in favour of Mr Thomas, ruling that N172.1 million be paid to him as his emoluments for the remaining four years of his tenure.
But Ibrahim as Acting head of NHIS hired a lawyer, Yunus Usman, to appeal the judgment and paid him N44 million as fee. This action has been described as fraudulent by Yusuf, who took the matter to the governing council of the agency, arguing that four directors had acted contrary to procurement laws, paying the lawyer’s fee upfront.
The four directors in response to an Establishment Committee set-up to look into the matter countered Yusuf, saying he has no case and is simply on a witch-hunt.
“We wish to state emphatically and for the records, that the pressure and harassment of the officers under investigation is being mounted by the Executive Secretary, Prof Usman Yusuf as an extension of the culture of siege he has imposed on the organisation since he arrived on the scene, and the vicious witch-hunt and selective persecution of those he considered as not in his favour, particularly for raising the flag against his high-handedness and wanton abuse of due process for personal advantage,” Mr Ibrahim wrote in a memo dated July 9 to the chairman of the governing council.
“This effort is to appeal to the council to kindly ensure that natural justice and equity are upheld in the consideration of this matter, considering that a thorough analysis of the infraction alleged against us pales significantly compared with the enormous and grievous infractions that have been committed and are still being committed by Professor Usman Yusuf as Executive Secretary, in terms of volumes of funds involved and his unprecedented impunity and disrespect for constituted authority.”
According to Premium Times, Ibrahim also raised new allegations of fraud against Yusuf, other than the cases based on which a panel raised by the minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole indicted him, saying following his reinstatement, the E.S took N3.5 million as “fuel money” for the period he was on suspension.
This is as Yusuf awarded contracts to a company owned by his elder brother, despite the firm not being registered for the services it was contracted to handle.
“The Executive Secretary awarded contracts to Lubekh Nigeria Limited for Consultancy for Media and Special Public Relations for NHIS at contract sum of N43 million. The company was found and confirmed to be owned majorly by Alhaji Kabir Yusuf Yar’Adua, the elder brother of the Executive Secretary. The evaluation of the submissions by respondents to this lot was done by Hassan Kabir Yar’Adua, the son of the owner of the company.”
“This action amounts to fraudulent practice and conflict of interest contrary to Section 57 (12) (b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 which states that “A conflict of interests exists where a person: possesses a direct or indirect interest in or relationship with a bidder, supplier, contractor or service provider that is inherently unethical or that may be implied or construed to be or make possible person gain due to the person’s ability to influence dealing.”
“Aside these, the said Lubekh Nigeria Limited lacks the competence to execute the contracts awarded to it by NHIS, as the company was registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission “to carry on business as food processors, building and construction.”
……NHIS struggles with angry individuals deleted from enrollees list
Another crisis that the NHIS has been grappling with and which aggrieved staff of the agency blame Yusuf for is the many cases of enrollees who have called and visited the customer care departments in state offices and its headquarters to vent their anger for being delisted.
NHIS sources told Frontline News Online, that Yusuf has been confronted with the problem he created as quite frequently, stranded enrollees call or visit the agency’s offices and Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), demanding to know why their names were removed from the list of enrollees without notice.
The complaints from enrollees, the allegations of fraud against Yusuf, sources further disclosed have formed part of petitions sent to the NHIS board by unions in the agency, who are involved in a cold war with the Executive -Secretary.
“Right from the NHIS head office where our staff were affected, to Abuja and other states, we have been struggling to manage the protests of enrollees, who in most cases, found out that they had been delisted at the hospital.
“It was under the reinstated Executive-Secretary that names were removed from the enrollees list for appearing multiple times. The world was told that there are 23,000 fictitious names, but this a fallacy.
“The 23,000 names he talked about didn’t come from an investigation he conducted. Rather, it was part of a review carried out by the ICT department in 2014. Part of the methods used to scrutinise 33,000 names then, was to compare photographs used for suspected dual or multiple enrollment”, the source said.
“After extensive scrutiny including, checking the date- of- birth of such persons, we decided not to tamper with the names because, we didn’t have the capacity to deploy biometrics which is the best way of detecting multiple registration beyond doubt.
“We told management this. But he (Yusuf) and the consultants he brought -in, didn’t listen. He proceeded to have names delisted and came up with stringent methods to get anyone re-registered. We have been dealing with the backlash for months and the complaints keep coming up till date”, the source further disclosed.