NHIS Paid ES, 5 Of­fi­cials N30m For For­eign Course Not At­tended

Sunday Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Nu­rud­deen M. Ab­dal­lah & Olayemi John-Men­sah

The act­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance Scheme (NHIS) At­tahiru A. Ibrahim and five other senior staff col­lected N30.6 mil­lion trav­el­ling al­lowances for a train­ing in the United States which they didn’t at­tend, Daily Trust on Sun­day in­ves­ti­ga­tions have shown.

This is com­ing at a time the scheme also paid N9.4 mil­lion as sit­ting al­lowance for a com­mit­tee work that lasted only eight days.

The NHIS has been em­broiled in lead­er­ship tus­sle be­tween the Min­is­ter of Health Pro­fes­sor Isaac Ade­wole and its ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary Pro­fes­sor Us­man Yusuf.

The min­is­ter set up an in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee to probe Pro­fes­sor Yusuf, who was con­tro­ver­sially sus­pended on July 6 over al­le­ga­tions of N960mil­lion fraud, which he has de­nied.

Anal­y­sis of of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dences be­tween the health min­istry and the NHIS re­vealed that Pro­fes­sor Yusuf was ac­tu­ally sus­pended for his re­fusal to grant the min­istry’s dozens of re­quests for spon­sor­ship of its of­fi­cials to for­eign events, ex­e­cu­tion of phoney con­tracts, char­ter­ing of air­craft for the min­is­ter, all run­ning into hun­dreds of mil­lions of naira, among oth­ers.

The 21 mem­bers of the min­is­te­rial panel set up to probe the sus­pended ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary were paid N19,184,000 from the Trea­sury Sin­gle Ac­count (TSA) of the NHIS on Septem­ber 14, 2017, as sit­ting al­lowance for its three weeks work, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial doc­u­ments an­a­lysed by Daily Trust on Sun­day. N30.6m for course not at­tended Apart from the act­ing ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary, other of­fi­cials who col­lected the money for the unat­tended trip are Egwu Emmanuel Adikwu (Gen­eral Man­ager, Fi­nance), Dr Emmanuel I. Ohuakanwa (Gen­eral Man­ager, For­mal Sec­tor), Issa Salau Ataiza (Chief of Staff to act­ing ES of­fice), Mo­hammed Ah­mad Gana (Per­sonal As­sis­tant to act­ing ES), and Oche David Ojoch­en­emi (Pro­to­col to act­ing ES).

The money was paid pur­port­edly to at­tend the Global Flag­ship Course on Health Sys­tems Strength­en­ing and Sus­tain­able Fi­nanc­ing: The Chal­lenge of Uni­ver­sal Cov­er­age, or­gan­ised by the World Bank in Washington DC, United States from Oc­to­ber 21-31, 2017.

But Daily Trust on Sun­day in­ves­ti­ga­tions have shown that de­spite pock­et­ing the money, none of the six of­fi­cials at­tended the pro­gramme.

Of­fi­cial doc­u­ments an­a­lysed by this news­pa­per re­vealed that the of­fi­cials were paid in Au­gust 2017 through the scheme’s Trea­sury Sin­gle Ac­count (TSA) with reference num­ber 177673938.

Break­down of the pay­ment shows that At­tahiru col­lected a to­tal of N6, 492, 400, com­pris­ing N5,234,800 for 10 days es­ta­code and N1,241,600 as course fee. The GM fi­nance Adikwu, GM for­mal sec­tor Ohuakanwa and Chief of Staff Ataiza each got N5, 330, 000 for the unat­tended course, com­pris­ing N4,072,400 as es­ta­code and N1,241,600 course fee, ac­cord­ing to the TSA doc­u­ment.

While the act­ing ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, Gana, was paid N4, 689, 000, com­pris­ing N3,410,000 as es­ta­code and N1,241,000 course fee. The act­ing ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary’s pro­to­col of­fi­cer, Ojoch­en­emi, ac­cord­ing to the NHIS of­fi­cial doc­u­ment, was paid N3,410,000 as es­ta­code and N64,000 course fee, to­tal­ing N3.374,000.

The spokesper­son of NHIS Ayo Osinlu con­firmed that the senior of­fi­cials were paid the money and they couldn’t at­tend the pro­gramme be­cause they were “late for ad­mis­sion,” in a writ­ten re­sponse to Daily Trust on Sun­day.

Osinlu said, “the team from the Scheme for the Global Flag­ship Course in Washington couldn’t at­tend the Oc­to­ber edi­tion of the course be­cause they were late for the ad­mis­sion for this edi­tion.

“They have how­ever been now duly ad­mit­ted, and are prop­erly sched­uled to be part of the Fe­bru­ary 2018 class of the course.”

He, how­ever, said they would at­tend the same course by Fe­bru­ary next year. But in­side sources told this news­pa­per that the World Bank pro­gramme is an an­nual event holds ev­ery Oc­to­ber.

Osinlu said, “the team from the Scheme for the Global Flag­ship Course in Washington couldn’t at­tend the Oc­to­ber edi­tion of the course be­cause they were late for the ad­mis­sion for this edi­tion.

“They have how­ever been now duly ad­mit­ted, and are prop­erly sched­uled to be part of the Fe­bru­ary 2018 class of the course.”

Another source said, “NHIS knows that a can­di­date can only at­tend this course upon se­cur­ing a space in the pro­gramme, yet they went ahead to pay th­ese peo­ple 10 days es­ta­code and other al­lowances know­ing full well that they were not ad­mit­ted to the pro­gramme.” N9.4m for 8-day sit­ting al­lowance Another fi­nan­cial scan­dal in the scheme was the pay­ment of N9.4 mil­lion to a com­mit­tee set up by Min­is­ter of Health on April 6, 2017 through a let­ter with a reference num­ber C/4501/T/83.

The com­mit­tee’s terms of reference was to look into the stag­na­tion of pro­mo­tion of some staff of the NHIS.

The 15-mem­ber com­mit­tee com­prised five mem­bers from the min­istry, five from the NHIS and five as sec­re­tar­iat staff of the min­istry.

Daily Trust on Sun­day in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that the com­mit­tee sat in the board­room of the NHIS from 9am to 4pm for eight days and that they were given break­fast and lunch through­out the du­ra­tion.

A staff of the NHIS who de­clined be­ing named for fear of vic­tim­iza­tion said, “at the end of their sit­ting, Pro­fes­sor Yusuf was pre­sented with a bill of N10mil­lion as sit­ting al­lowance. But he (Pro­fes­sor Yusuf) wrote the Min­is­ter of Health, stat­ing why he could not ap­prove this pay­ment cit­ing Pub­lic Ser­vice Reg­u­la­tion.”

Of­fi­cial doc­u­ments re­viewed by this news­pa­per re­vealed that as soon as the min­is­ter sus­pended Pro­fes­sor Yusuf, the act­ing NHIS ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary paid the money even though his ap­proval limit was for only N2.5 mil­lion.

The TSA doc­u­ment an­a­lysed by Daily Trust on Sun­day show each of the two co-chair­men of the com­mit­tee was paid N100,000 daily, mak­ing it N800,000 each for the eight days’ work.

The co-chair­men of the com­mit­tee are Haladu M. Keana and Lawal Tinau.

The re­main­ing 13 mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, in­clud­ing the sec­re­tar­iat staff were paid N75,000 daily each, to­tal­ing N600, 000 each for the eight days’ work.

Among the mem­bers of the com­mit­tee are Com­rade Omo­meji A. Razaq, Chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Senior Civil Ser­vants of Nige­ria (ASCSN) and Com­rade Olawuyi Y. Kay­ode, Chair­man of the Med­i­cal and Health Work­ers Union of Nige­ria (MHWUN).

Other mem­bers are Mrs. Lau­rat E. Elayo, Mrs. V.E Jemide, Mr. E.E Ebri, Mrs. P. A. Og­baudu, Mr. Peter Uzoue, Mr. Sani Ab­dul­lahi, Ha­jia Fadi­matu Bello, Mrs. Ale Oluway­omi Lu­cia, Ms Maryam N. Aliyu, Mrs. To­bias T. Chris­tiana, and Kabiru Sal­isu.

Another source in­side the scheme said “the com­mit­tee was cre­ated to com­pen­sate loyal staff. That is why union lead­ers who

But Daily Trust on Sun­day in­ves­ti­ga­tions have shown that de­spite pock­et­ing the money, none of the six of­fi­cials at­tended the pro­gramme.

have been writ­ing pe­ti­tions against the for­mer ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary were en­listed to ben­e­fit from the largesse.” Pay­ments within the law - NHIS The head me­dia and pub­lic re­la­tion depart­ment of the NHIS, Osinlu, in a writ­ten re­sponse to Daily Trust on Sun­day, said, “The com­mit­tee on Staff Stag­na­tion was a Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee that was set up with elab­o­rate in­put from sus­pended ES (ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary), Us­man Yusuf, to look into the cases of some staff who were set back in their pro­mo­tion and se­nior­ity prospects in the scheme, with a view to cor­rect the im­bal­ance and un­fair­ness.

“Mem­bers of the com­mit­tee were paid their al­lowances in ac­cor­dance with ex­tant cir­cu­lar in that re­gard.

“The Com­mit­tee ac­tu­ally sat for 12 days and re­quested to be paid ac­cord­ingly,” he said.

He said, “the act­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, At­tahiru Ibrahim, scaled it down to eight days in strict ad­her­ence to the guid­ing cir­cu­lar that stip­u­lated a max­i­mum of eight sit­tings for such com­mit­tees.

“There­after, the al­lowances were paid fol­low­ing due and com­pe­tent ap­proval.”

Min­is­ter of Health, Prof. Isaac Ade­wole

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