The chairperson, Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Enyantu Ifenne, says if President Muhammadu Buhari knows a tenth of the ‘atrocities’ committed by the suspended Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf, ”he (Buhari) will throw him out.”
“If (Mr) Buhari knows one-tenth of Yusuf’s atrocities, he will not keep him there for one day, quote me anywhere,” Mrs Ifenne, a pediatrician, noted in a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
The chairperson was reacting to ‘fears’ that the president may overrule the council’s decision to send Usman Yusuf, the embattled head of the NHIS , on an indefinite suspension over alleged fraud and serial infractions.
The executive secretary was previously suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in July 2017 over alleged gross misconduct and fraud. Thereafter, Mr Adewole asked a panel to investigate the allegations against Mr Yusuf. Documents in possession of PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the panel indicted him and recommended sanctions.
In February, however, without informing the minister and against the recommendations of the probe panel, President Buhari reinstated the executive secretary.
Similarly, while announcing his suspension, Mrs Ifenne said the council resolved to set up an administrative panel to examine allegations levelled against Mr Yusuf.
She said the reason for the suspension is to allow the panel an ‘unfettered’ space to do a thorough investigation.
She announced that Sadiq Abubakar will now act as Executive Secretary in Mr Yusuf’s stead for the time being.
The chairperson said the council is not “worried about that (insinuations) for now”, when journalists asked on Thursday how they would react if their resolution was overruled by higher authorities.
“We have done what we should do as people entrusted to make the scheme run smoothly and transparently and we will be remembered for that.”
Fears of Mr Yusuf being brought back the second time after suspension also became rife on Friday especially after he resumed work despite Thursday’s suspension.
Multiple sources at the Abuja office of the agency confirmed to this newspaper that Mr Yusuf came to work and was in his office as at Friday midday.
Mrs Ifenne also confirmed that Mr Yusuf came to work on Friday.
“He (Yusuf) was here today (Friday) because we allowed him to use yesterday and today to clear his office. By Monday he is not going to be allowed in, he will be locked out,” Mrs Ifenne told PREMIUM TIMES
She further drew a line between the ‘president’ and the ‘presidency’, referring to the latter as “an amorphous body of all kinds of players.”
”I don’t think they (persons in the presidency) are sitting on this matter yet and if they do, Nigerians are watching,” she said.
“I will not be intimidated by insinuations from those quarters because I know we are doing the right thing. If Buhari knows what we know, he will do the same and even more.
“The council is in solidarity. We will not be intimidated by amorphous bodies. We are acting within the laws.”
PREMIUM TIMES earlier published in full details a list of nine ‘infractions’ against Mr Yusuf as released by the governing council.
In one of which was about insubordination, the council noted that its chairperson in particular had been subjected to ”verbal assaults, unruly outbursts and various forms of unprofessional behaviour by the controversial Executive Secretary.”