The Senate has directed its joint committee on primary healthcare and communicable diseases and the health committee to wade into the crisis of confidence and corruption in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and that of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The directive comes weeks after the suspension of NHIS Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf.
Mr Yusuf’s tenure has been filled with controversies. His reign partially came to a halt last year July when the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, sent him on indefinite suspension over allegations of misconduct and corruption – after which a panel was asked to investigate the allegations.
On October 18, the governing council of the scheme again announced it was sending the executive secretary on another indefinite suspension also over alleged fraud and misconduct.
But he disputed the powers of the council to suspend him and alleged he was being victimised. The following Monday, he stormed the headquarters of the scheme with a contingent of about 50 police officers to force his way into his office.
President Buhari eventually intervened and directed Mr Yusuf to proceed on administrative leave from November 5, to enable a panel he instructed to be constituted investigate the allegations against him.
Meanwhile, at the NPHCDA, the Executive Director, Faisal Shuaib, has been accused of fraudulent practices and violation of procurement laws.
In a motion titled, “the growing crises in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) And the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)”, Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North) noted the constitutional role of the Senate to ”periodically embark on oversight functions of ministries and agencies for the purpose of enthroning good governance, probity, reducing high-handedness of operators, eliminating corruption and improving overall efficiency”.
He explained that many public agencies have moved away from ”direct focus on serving the citizens and advancing economic and social development – to furthering impunity that border on personality cults and these certainly run counter to the objectives of the federal government”.
“Major crises have been brewing at the NHIS over allegations of high-handedness, budget distortion, fraudulent cost manipulation, illegal investments and unprofessional manipulation of the human resources of the agency; all these being issues that have pitched NHIS against its employees and its Board, – while jeopardising the interests of the general public.
“The same situation is also applicable in the NPHCDA – where the Executive Director has been accused of high-handedness, reckless spending in the purchase of unwanted vehicles, intimidation and unwarranted transfer of senior staff members without regards to due process,” he said.
He also said these, “unguarded executive and administrative processes pervading public agencies, if not verified, checked and redirected for good, will impair the important roles of the agencies”.
The joint committee was asked to wade into the crises at the two agencies, ”so as to thoroughly investigate the matter and other infractions and inform the Senate of the findings within two weeks”.