The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Friday announced the suspension of the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, for three months.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that one of the allegations against Yusuf was that he bought a sport utility vehicle for N58m.
In a statement signed by the Director of Media and Public Relations at the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, the minister said the suspension was due to a series of petitions written against Yusuf.
The statement read in part, “The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has directed the Executive Secretary / Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, to proceed on three months suspension with immediate effect.
“According to the directive, the suspension was a result of various allegations and petitions against him. The minister also said he had directed the setting up of an investigative committee to look into the various allegations in accordance with the public service rules.
“The suspension became necessary to allow for an uninterrupted investigation. Prof. Usman Yusuf was, however, directed to hand over to the next most senior general manager in the agency.”
The minister advised members of staff of the agency to be law-abiding, vigilant and safeguard all government properties including valuable documents.
However, the minister’s order seems to already have been flouted as the suspended NHIS boss reportedly left the premises with two matted woven bags otherwise known as ‘Ghana must go’ bags with unknown contents.
When our correspondent visited the NHIS on Friday, several union leaders said the suspension was long overdue.
Our correspondent was informed that the bulk of petitions written against the NHIS boss centred on abuse of office, nepotism and insubordination.
In one of such petitions, Yusuf was accused of buying a brand new Toyota Sports Utility Vehicle with number plate, NHIS 12Y-01 FG, for N58m, which was above his spending limit of N2.5m and without the express permission of the minister.
He was also accused of awarding contracts to his cronies without following due process.
Yusuf was said to have favoured northern Muslims while many Christian southerners were often treated unfavourably.
The suspended NHIS boss, whose appointment was allegedly influenced by members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Kaduna cabal, was also said to have committed several acts of insubordination against the health minister.
A member of the Medical and Health Workers Union, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Yusuf’s attitude had seriously affected the success of the NHIS as he had fought with Health Maintenance Organisations.
The unionist said, “The suspended NHIS boss bought a sport utility vehicle of N58m a few weeks ago without the permission of the minister. Ordinarily, he has no right to make a transaction of over N2.5m without the permission of the ministry since the NHIS has no board.
“He victimised many members of the union and even frustrated the NHIS. Ideally, HMOs are supposed to be paid three months in advance so that they can pay hospitals on time but he was paying HMOs one month in advance.”
When our correspondent called Yusuf to hear his side of the story, he picked up the telephone but upon hearing that the person on the other end was a journalist, he immediately cut the call.
Subsequent calls put through to his phone were rejected while a text message sent to his telephone was not responded to as of the time of filing this report.Punch