The Acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Attahiru Ibrahim, on Thursday vowed to deal decisively with any worker that abuses his or her position.
Mr Ibrahim disclosed this in his first press statement since he was appointed to man the state-run health scheme for three months.
He is taking over from the embattled NHIS Boss, Usman Yusuf, who has been suspended for three months over alleged fraud and mismanagement of funds.
The new acting executive secretary, until his appointment, was the General Manager in charge of Contributions Management Department at NHIS Headquarters in Abuja.
In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Ibrahim said his team would be hitting the ground running to reposition the agency.
He said while there was work to be done, there no effort would be spared to sanction staff that went beyond their briefs.
“We realized there is a lot of work to be done in order to boost staff morale. This is aimed at reassuring them that they’re first of all human beings who deserve some dose of dignity and realigning their focus with a new vision. This becomes compelling as not a few staff are still under a state of siege owing to, frankly speaking, a seeming gap and disconnect between the management and the workforce,’’ Mr Ibrahim said.
He stressed that the new management was prepared to prove that the scheme can actually work in Nigeria.
“Our primary reason for being in NHIS is to ensure Nigerians benefit from quality health insurance. Our primary reason for being here is to ensure major stakeholders we engage either in the supply chain or in the health management chain put Nigerians first.
“We are aware that no condition is permanent as the saying goes. Therefore, stakeholders and members of the public must never find it difficult to relate to us. We shall not hesitate to pull the plugs on anyone in the system who abuses his or her privilege of service”, he added.
PREMIUM TIMES had broken the news of Mr. Yusuf’s suspension last week over corruption allegations.
The suspension came weeks after the Senate launched investigations into his activities as the NHIS chief.
The lawmakers accused Mr. Yusuf of misappropriating N292 million which he allegedly spent on health care training “without recourse to any appropriate approving authority.”
Mr. Yusuf, however, refused to accept the suspension, and in a July 12 letter, exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, addressed to the Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, said he would not obey the suspension order, listing five reasons for his decision.
In response, the health ministry in a statement on Friday said it dissociated itself from Mr. Yusuf’s letter stating that NHIS is an agency supervised by the Health Ministry and the Administrative Panel of Inquiry raised by the Ministry to investigate activities of the agency haD commenced its assignment.
In a bid to further rid the scheme of corruption, Mr. Adewole also suspended eight top management staff of the scheme days after suspending Mr. Yusuf.
Taking a contrary position, however, Nigeria’s House of Representatives had called for Mr Yusuf’s reinstatement on July 12th.
A spokesperson for the health ministry, Boade Akinola, had said the ministry had not been informed of the resolution.
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