NHIS is an Agency Steeped in Fraud

NHIS is an Agency Steeped in Fraud
Long before the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) made the headlines with the recent crisis surrounding its repeatedly suspended Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf, the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF) had raised an alarm on how monumental fraud, opacity and impunity had become the culture of the agency. The annual report of the AuGF on the accounts of Nigerian agencies for the year ended December 2016 revealed that billions of naira were unaccounted for by the management of the NHIS in the previous seven years. The report, which is the latest by the AuGF, indicated that fraud and mismanagement as alleged against Mr Yusuf are standard practice at the agency and actually predate his administration. Mr. Yusuf, 54, took over the state-run health insurance provider on July 29, 2016 but his tenure has been bedeviled by 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. Thereafter, Mr. Adewole asked a panel to investigate the allegations. Although several documents had revealed the panel indicted Mr. Yusuf and recommended sanction, President Muhammadu Buhari reinstated him seven months later. However, 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 victimized. 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 investigates the allegations against him.

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