The panel set up by the Federal Government to investigate the crisis in the National Health Insurance Scheme has recommended immediate dismissal of the Executive Secretary of the agency, Prof Usman Yusuf.
A copy of the report which was obtained by The PUNCH accused Yusuf of breaching the Public Procurement Act as well as the Public Service Rules.
The seven-man committee headed by Dr Hassan Bukar, a retired permanent secretary, nonetheless, did not recommend Yusuf for prosecution.
The committee added that the NHIS boss, who has been on suspension since November 2018, had an unhealthy relationship with members of staff of the agency; local unions, health management organisations and health care providers.
This, the panel said, would have a negative effect on the health sector if he was allowed to retain his position.
Yusuf, who said, “Fu*k the Minister of Health” during an interview with The PUNCH in 2017, was also accused of embarrassing the government through his unguarded social media comments.
The committee said the NHIS boss deserved to be dismissed for failing to explore internal administrative remedies before suing the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the NHIS last November.
The report read in part, “Relieve the executive secretary of his appointment. Justification: Inability to work in harmony with all the relevant stakeholders in the scheme for the attainment of the scheme’s mandate.
“Established cases of infractions of the Public Service Rules i.e. insubordination and refusal to carry out lawful instructions from superior authorities (governing council and the Federal Ministry of Health) contrary to PSR Rule 030301 (0), unauthorised public utterances contrary to Rule 030421 (id), and relevant service-wide circulars.
“Established cases of infraction of the following provisions of the Public Procurement Act: Sections 16(6) and 32(7).
“Infraction of Rule 3125(i) (a) and (b) of the Financial Regulations;
“Embarrassed government through unguarded social media comments.”
The panel also recommended for immediate removal the 13 senior officers improperly seconded to the NHIS from other government agencies by the suspended NHIS boss.
The committee also recommended the immediate dissolution of the Dr Eyanatu Ifienne-led NHIS governing council for suspending Yusuf when it clearly had no constitutional powers to do so.
It said there was a crisis within the governing council of the scheme and this could negatively affect the smooth running of the agency.
The report partly read, “Dissolve the governing council. Justification: The panel observed the role of the governing council in the present imbroglio and noted from the interactions that the council has become factionalised and is incapable of providing the required leadership for the scheme.
“The governing council embarrassed the government by exceeding its mandate when it suspended the executive secretary.”
The committee subsequently advised the Federal Government to appoint an interim management team to avoid a vacuum and ensure the smooth running of the scheme.
It said the proposed committee would have a six-month lifespan and should be led by a seasoned administrator with a health system experience and other technical members drawn from the offices of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Bureau of Public Procurement and Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
The panel said the proposed committee would report to the Presidency during its tenure.
It called on the Federal Government to amend the Act establishing the NHIS to make health insurance compulsory for Nigerians even as it advised the government to ensure that “the NHIS is ICT driven.”
Investigations by The PUNCH showed that the committee report was submitted to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, on December 24, 2018.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari government has failed to take any action in almost five months, thereby worsening the ongoing crisis in the health sector.
The NHIS crisis began in early 2017 when it was alleged by members of staff and the organised labour that Yusuf was diverting public funds to private use.
He was said to have brought in 13 officers from other government agencies and gave them undue promotion.
The NHIS boss was subsequently suspended by the Minister of Health in July 2017 while a committee was set up to investigate Yusuf.
The committee accused Yusuf of fraud to the tune of N919m and recommended that anti-graft agencies investigate and prosecute him if need be.
However, Yusuf, who is said to be close to the cabal at the Presidency, was asked to return to his position, an action that triggered public outrage.
Months after his return, Yusuf again ran into trouble with the governing council of the NHIS for, amongst other things, paying consultants N508m without due process.
Recall that the Assistant Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olusegun Adetola, in an interview with The PUNCH on April 17 named the just-concluded general elections as the reason the Federal Government had yet to make public the outcome of the probe initiated into an alleged fraud of N919m in the NHIS.
Adetola, in the interview, said, “As you are aware, the report has been submitted to the SGF and forwarded to the President. We had general elections that were completed only last week and that involved many government agencies.
“The report was submitted just before election activities began. This must have delayed the public presentation. I am sure that soon, it will be made public. It is not a forgotten document.”
Somali Jihadists Kill Three Americans in Attack on Kenya Military Base
Jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, killing three American citizens and destroying several aircraft and military vehicles, officials said.
Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were pushed back and four jihadists killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.
The American military, however, said three US citizens died in the attack including a service member and two civilian defence contractors.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said in a statement.
Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.
Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally backed government — which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.
The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.
Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30 am but it was repulsed.
“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.
Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.
An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.
Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.
Shabaab claimed to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.
The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.
Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.
AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.
Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a 10-hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.
The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”
AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.
US military network
The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.
The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country
Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.
The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.
In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.
On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.
According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.