On July 2nd, 2019, President Muhammadu Buharisacked Prof. Usman Yusuf from his position as Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The President sacked Prof. Yusuf following recommendations from a panel set up by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in December 2018 to investigate allegations of fraud and misdemeanours leveled against him by workers of the organization. The panel, having found him culpable, recommended that the president dismiss him from office.
Earlier, a similar panel set up by the Federal Ministry of Health in 2017 also found Prof. Usman Yusuf guilty of corruption and mismanagement of about NB1billion (N919million) and recommended his sack from office.
“Following the recommendations of report by an independent fact-finding panel on the NHIS, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the termination of appointment of the Executive Secretary, Prof. UsmanYusuf, who has been on administrative leave and has approved the appointment of Prof. Mohammed Samboas the new executive secretary,” the Director, Media, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola stated while announcing Prof. Yusuf’s sack,
As Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf was in a rare and unique position to activate positive developments and needed reforms in the nation’s health sector especially primary health across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The above was realizable because NHIS was more than adequately funded by the government due to the importance accorded to the scheme.
But rather than work for Nigeria and its people, Prof. Yusuf mindlessly concentrated on enriching his pockets, diverting monies meant for providinginfrastructure and human development of primary health care into personal use in order to fund and bank-role his opulent lifestyle that provoked workers of NHIS who revolted and called for his probe. It is necessary to state that Prof. Usman Yusuf is one of those to be held accountable over the sorry state of Nigeria’s health sector especially the very critical primary health subsector of the nation’s economy.
Since he was sacked and disgraced from office on grounds of corruption, fraud and other related financial crimes, Prof. Yusuf has been in hiding, probably enjoying the huge amount of money he made as the boss of a very critical sector like the NHIS.
But like every Tom and Jerry, Prof. Yusuf has come out of his hiding place and found the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to make public speech, believing that Nigerians must have forgotten who he is and how he shortchanged the nation by diverting money meant to fix the health sector into his private coffers, as submitted by two different panels that investigated and found him guilty of corruption.
Recently Prof. Yusuf shameless granted interview to a media platform where he ‘passionately’ talked about the coronavirus pandemic and the need for prudent management of resources meant for the pandemic. He also criticized some states for the level of infection.
Reading his interview, anybody who does not know Prof. Usman Yusuf and his track records especially his unwholesome activities, a little part of which were revealed by the two panels that investigated his corruption-ridden tenure in NHIS would think that a saint granted the interview.
But do you blame Prof. Yusuf? He must have thought that, like everything we do here, the people must have forgotten his various atrocities against the Nigerian state among which was enriching himself with resources appropriated by government and entrusted into his hands to fix the nation’s health insurance scheme.
Prof. Yusuf can now talk in the public because over two years of his sack due to corrupt practices, he is still walking as a free man instead of been arrested, tried, and convicted to rot in jail where he rightly belonged. If the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) were up to their callings, they would have picked Prof. Usman Yusuf since he was sacked to show example to others who hold public offices that the wages of corruption is jail.
It may even be that by making public statements and granting interviews, Prof. Yusuf is scheming to get a new appointment from the Federal Government, probably related to the COVID-10 pandemic, and why not? Didn’t they say that anything goes in Nigeria?
It would be recalled that while he was the chief executive officer of NHIS, workers of the Scheme staged industrial protests several times accusing Prof. Yusuf of corruption and diversion of public funds, among others crimes.
One of the protests took place on October 2018, when NHIS senior workers urged the Federal Government to sack Yusuf due to his corrupt tendencies.
The workers had, at a press briefing, under their umbrella Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria restated some of his misconducts, adding that he had earlier been suspended from office the previous year. They accused him of refusing drop his corrupt tendencies after his recall from suspension handed over to him by the then minister of health, Isaac Adewole.
Bonaventure Melah, a former Managing Editor of Daily Times Newspaper is the Publisher of African Leadership Scorecard News and Magazine E-mail [email protected] Mobile 08036062975