Less than four months after his controversial reinstatement, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, is again in trouble over a N25 billion investment scam.
The newly inaugurated Governing Council of the agency has accused Mr Yusuf of misleading it to act against the policy directive of government, by fraudulently obtaining its approval to invest the sum in securities.
The council also said the Executive Secretary concluded the arrangement for the investment before seeking its approval, contrary to the laws governing the scheme, and ignored key conditions it attached to the approval.
Mr. Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in July 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct.
The minister then set up a panel to investigate the allegations. The panel reportedly indicted the Executive Secretary, following which the minister forwarded the report to the presidency.
But in February, without informing the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari reinstated Mr Yusuf into his office.
The development ignited an uproar, with a group of workers staging a protest at the agency against the return of the executive secretary.
President Buhari later summoned the minister and Mr Yusuf to a meeting at which he urged them to bury the hatchet and work together in the interest of the scheme.
Earlier in December, the president appointed a governing board for the scheme, alongside those of 208 other federal parastatals.
In February, he directed ministers to inaugurate the boards of agencies under their supervision. That directive was carried out on March 6 at the NHIS when the governing board was inaugurated with Enyantu Ifenne, a medical doctor, as chairperson.
However, much earlier in August while Mr Yusuf was still on suspension, the minister gave approval to the acting Executive Secretary of the scheme, Attahiru Ibrahim, to invest “idle funds” of the agency in federal government securities.
This was said to be in line with the National Health Insurance Act (Part IV, Section 11.4), which states that:
“The Scheme shall invest any money not immediately required by it in Federal Government Securities or in such other securities as the Council may, with the approval of the Minister, from time to time, determine.”
According to the letter of approval (HMH/ABJ/032/X/465), dated August 18, 2017, the minister wrote:
“It has come to my notice that the NHIS kept residual balance not immediately required for day-to-day operations idle in Treasury Single Account with the CBN. The Sum has accumulated over the years and has become somewhat sterilised as you continue to hold it in cash thereby leading to erosion in value due to inflationary trends which currently stands at 16.1%