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Thursday 09th April 2020,
Hope for Nigeria

Fresh Crisis rocks NHIS; Governing Council rejects budget, accuses management of ‘padding’

Anxiety is growing at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) following the rejection of the 2018 budget of the agency by its Governing Council over alleged improprieties.

The scheme’s Governing Council is empowered by law to review and approve the budget of the NHIS.

The budget was delayed by the protracted crisis at the agency that got to a climax last year when the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, sent the Executive Secretary, Usman Yusuf, on indefinite suspension over allegations of misconduct and corruption.

Days after, the minister suspended eight other senior officials of the agency.

Thereafter, Mr Adewole asked a panel to investigate the allegations against Mr Yusuf and the other officials. Although documents in possession of PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the panel indicted him and recommended sanction, President Muhammadu Buhari reinstated the executive secretary seven months later.

Since his reinstatement February this year, the agency has been engulfed in infighting as Mr Yusuf and some senior officials traded accusations of fraud.

Worried by the effects the long delay in having a budget in place was having on the operations of the agency, the governing council which came into office early this year, called a series of meetings over the budget.

At an emergency meeting on July 24, the fifth over the budget proposal presented by the management, the council finally directed the management to present an amended version reflecting its deliberations to the council chairman, Enyattu Ifenne, for final approval.

But when on August 6, the management presented the amended budget reflecting a N65 billion expenditure plan to the council chairman, Mrs Ifenne pulled back from giving approval.

In a memo dated August 20 to the executive secretary, she pointed out six major anomalies which she noted would make it “illegal and improper” for her to sign the budget as presented.

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