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Fresh facts have emerged how the suspended executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme ( NHIS) Prof Usman Yusuf abused the office of the executive secretary through financial recklessness have emerged.
In a document seen by this paper, the sum of N14, 833,000.00 was approved and released by the NHIS to Prof Usman Yusuf and four others as estacodes and flight tickets. The suspended ES received a whopping sum of N2, 484,000 as estacode at an inflated exchange rate of N460 to a dollar. While others in the entourage also received monies at the dubious exchange rate.
According to an insider, the former ES and others collected the monies and didn’t embark on the trip. “The ES and four other travelled to Kaduna and spent one week before returning to Abuja on the pretence that they travelled out. When asked to produce tickets for accounts reconciliation, he waved it off.”
Dubious Payment to Katamaya Firstcall Hospital:
Another document seen by this medium indicated how the suspended executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Prof. Usman Yusuf connived with Katamaya Firstcall Hospital Limited to receive money from the coffers of the NHIS. In the document seen it revealed that the suspended NHIS boss approved the sum of N16, 220,600 through payment invoice no: NHIS/0219 for treatment at the hospital.
“Mrs. Fatima Saidu Dabai is not an enrollee of the NHIS as evidenced in her letter of appeal to the suspended ES of NHIS dated 16th November 2016. The suspended ES cancelled his earlier approval in the sum of N10, 800,000.00 in her favour on the recommendation of one Dr. Hamza Aliyu and instead approved the sum of N16,220,600.00.”
The report further indicated that the suspended ES did not follow the existing rules in granting interventions to patients with life-threatening cases. A source in the know of the workings of the NHIS stated that it was an anomaly for the NHIS to refer or make payment to any hospital that is not accredited by the NHIS.
“Katamaya Firstcall Hospital Limited is not accredited by the NHIS. It is believed in some quarters that the hospital is owned by a crony of Prof Usman Yusuf that was why he approved payment on three occasions to the hospital.”
The document further revealed that of a case of one Mrs. Nnodim Chinyere who according to the report did not appeal to the NHIS for any assistance but the sum of N16, 079,100.00 was approved and released to the same Katamaya Firstcall hospital for her treatment. “ Katamaya Firstcall Hospital in a letter dated 15th January 2015 appealed for financial assistance on her behalf. In the hospital’s appeal, the estimated cost of treatment was N16, 079,100.00 and there was no evidence that confirmed her status as an NHIS enrolee.”
“The sum of N16, 079,100.00 was also approved for one Odimayo Ibironke who was referred to NHIS by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital where she was treated. She is an enrollee of the NHIS but this time around Katamaya Firstcall was paid the sum of N16,079,100 on her behalf.”
A source in the NHIS hinted on how the suspended ES refused to render assistance to a staff of the NHIS who needed to travel to Egypt for medical treatment. “Umar Amin Brigade made repeated appeals to the suspended ES for financial assistance, but the suspended ES refused till Umar Amin Brigade died”
Some sources wondered why the sum of over N48 million was paid to a hospital that does not seem to have the capacity to handle complex medical cases. They also questioned why the NHIS would engage the services of a hospital that is not accredited by the NHIS.
“Katamaya Firstcall Hospital is not accredited by the NHIS, and it is a violation of the rules for the NHIS to patronize such facilities.”
A contract for Inverters and iPhones:
In a document seen the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Executive Secretary, Pharm. Atieza Issa signed a memo with REF No: NHIS/ES/08/111/311 titled “Request for Release of Office Equipments” on July 4, 2017, seeking the approval of the executive secretary for the release of “office equipment from the NHIS store
“The Executive Secretary may wish to be informed that some office equipment were procured for the enhancement of the functions of the executive secretary at home.” And the request was approved by the executive secretary on the same day.
The contract letter with REF No: NHIS/PROC/17/120 for the supply of the equipment in focus was awarded to Mozabella Attelier Limited on 16 June 2017 at the sum of N2, 295,000.00 and stated as CCTV equipment with inverter
“I am pleased to inform you that your quotation for the procurement of eight cameras CCTV with inverter system at the contract sum of N2, 295,000.00 has been approved by the National Health Insurance Scheme.”
The contract letter was signed by one Idris Mohammed, a general manager in the procurement department on 16 June 2017. And on 4 July 2017, a memo from the executive secretary’s office approved for the release of the same items from the store to the executive secretary’s house under the guise of “office equipment to enhance the office of the executive secretary from home.”
Purchase of iPhone 7 as an official working tool:
In another document seen Usman Yusuf in his capacity as the executive secretary of NHIS approved the sum of N681,750,000 ( Six Hundred and eighty-one thousand seven hundred and fifty naira) for the purchase of an I phone seven as the official working tool for the office of the executive secretary. The document which was authored by one Isaac Ciroma, a deputy general manager in the office of the executive secretary and dated October 20, 2016.
“The executive secretary may wish to note the need for the procurement of working material (iPhone 7) as the official phone for the office of the executive secretary to ease both electronic and oral communication within and outside the office.” The contract for the supply of the “working tool” was awarded to Umariatu Consult Limited at the sum of N681, 750.00). While the same specification of phones in the open market goes for N282, 000.00 to N300, 000.00
An insider who didn’t want his name mentioned for fear of victimisation stated that the suspended ES was in the habit of requesting new iPhones. “He would always say his phone was stolen and therefore the office should replace it. In the eleven months that he was ES, the NHIS has bought up to five iPhones for the suspended ES”.
How Suspended NHIS Boss Planned to Siphon N24 billion before his Suspension
Prof. Usman Yusuf allegedly connived with some of his cronies to siphon the sum of N24 billion through a dubious project for the rehabilitation of tertiary healthcare institutions in Nigeria. In the deal, it was shown that the suspended executive secretary decided to carry out this intervention which is not a part of the mandate of the NHIS when the Federal Government requested that the NHIS in collaboration with National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), but the then executive secretary turned down the request and instead smuggled into the NHIS budget the sum of N24 billion for the renovation of Tertiary Healthcare Institutions in Nigeria.
A source conversant with the deal disclosed that the suspended NHIS boss, upon introducing the agreement into the budget, he went ahead and approved for the tertiary healthcare institutions to advertise for the execution of the jobs.
“The suspended executive secretary tried to play a smart one. He introduced the deal into the budget and also approved almost immediately. What he did was to introduce some middlemen to all the chief medical directors that negotiated for a certain percentage for him. And not just that, he positioned his benefactor, one Shehu Mahdi of the Dialogue group of companies to supply most of the equipment” he said.
A source who also pleaded anonymity said that the suspended ES is still very bitter that he was suspended and he has vowed to do everything possible to rubbish the reputation of the health minister and that of the Acting Executive Secretary of the NHIS.
“The suspended ES is bent on going the extra mile to rubbish the minister of health and one of such is the news making the round of one group sponsored by him, named CATBAN who are alleging that the Health minister pressurised the acting ES to release the sum of N10 billion for the revitalisation of primary healthcare centres in the country and also the sum ofN1.9 billion for the procurement of antiretroviral drugs. The group is an extension of the suspended ES, and they are hell-bent on tarnishing the image of the NHIS.”
When this paper reached out to the NHIS, it was stated that there was no such pressure on the acting ES. That the monies in question were a directive that was issued in 2015 by the president for the rehabilitation of primary healthcare center across the country.
“We know where this is coming from. And we are not disturbed because the accusations lack substance. It is just a figment of the imagination of the faceless group called CATBAN and by extension their chief sponsor Prof. Usman Yusuf.” They said.
NHIS Vehicles as Personal Vehicles:
Sources in the transport section of the NHIS stated that the suspended ES converted two vehicles for use by his wife and son. “the suspended ES instructed the transport officer to release the two vehicles to his house. One of the vehicles used by his son was involved in an accident, and the NHIS repaired and returned to his son.”
The source further added that the suspended ES was receiving the sum of N340, 000.00 as a kickback from the transport officer every month. “It was such a terrible case under the suspended ES. He would collect N500, 000.00 every month for fuelling for his vehicle and also demand kickback from the transport officer every month.”
NHIS e-library Project
A contract for an NHIS e-library was awarded to one Promatrix Global Resources Limited at the sum of twenty-seven million naira. Insider sources hinted that the company was used as a front for the suspended executive secretary. “What the company did was to buy some desktop computers and dump in a room and called it e-library room. As we speak, nothing is working in the supposed e-library room. And the company was even paid the full contract sum upfront.”
Another source also hinted that the suspended ES hurriedly granted approval for the library officer of the NHIS Florence Oduah to proceed on study leave in a university in UK with full pay. “The suspended ES did this so that the library officer would not be available for questioning.”
140 billion NHIS Budget:
In a document seen, the NHIS under Prof Usman Yusuf prepared and approved a budget of One hundred and forty billion for the NHIS without the approval of the National Assembly. In the document, the budget presented by Usman Yusuf the suspended ES was #137,409,497,872.57. From this budget, the office of the executive secretary was allocated a whopping N26 billion.
When contacted for comment the Head of Media of the NHIS, Ayo Osinlu stated that the NHIS as led by the acting executive secretary runs an all-inclusive administration. “Anybody or institution that wants clarification on the various allegations can visit the NHIS. These documents are readily available. The NHIS won’t be distracted by some elements who are bent on destabilizing the activities of the scheme. This is just a distraction that the NHIS won’t succumb to.
“The acting ES of the NHIS is an epitome of honesty. He has a track record that can be easily verified. We advise all those bent on tarnishing his image to have a rethink”. He said.
All efforts to get the response of the suspended ES proved abortive.