BY MUSA SIMON REEF, ABUJA – The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, has rebuffed ministerial directive over alleged illegal recruitment of 15 management and senior staff without following due process.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who supervises the Agency, had directed the NHIS Executive Secretary to, as a matter of urgent importance, delete the names of the 15 illegally recruited staffers from the payroll of the Scheme.
Forefront had in its March edition exclusively reported the illegal recruitment that were also lopsided in favour of a particular geo-political zone amongst other activities taking place at the Scheme that are perceived as inimical to the smooth operation of the agency.
A petition addressed to the Minister of Health by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), called on the Minister to ensure the agreement arrived on the illegally recruited staffers by the NHIS are promptly implemented to avoid breakdown of law and order and or industrial action by the union.
In the letter dated May 4, 2017, with the headline, ‘Demand for the Implementation of the Report In Respect of the vexed Issue Of Illegal Secondment Of Officers In The NHIS: Urgent Need To Call The Executive Secretary To Order,’ the Union alleged that the Prof. Yusuf has turned himself into “an emperor” and running the Scheme as a personal estate.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Executive Secretary NHIS only informed the seconded officers to step aside while he kept assuring them that he is doing some work in the Presidency, Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, including the Office of the Head of the Service of the Federation towards their eventual return to the NHIS.
“On the strength of that promise, he has refused to delete their names from the payroll. Thus, the affected secondees were illegally paid April salary by the Executive Secretary against the due process,” said the senior civil servants in the letter.
Apart from the threat to declare industrial dispute on the matter, they wondered why Yusuf should be allowed to defy a ministerial directive and an agreement with a labour union on the matter.
“For the record, the affected officers who were illegally seconded to NHIS were documented at the point of resumption. The Executive Secretary, NHIS has vowed not to document their exit, notwithstanding the ministerial directive and the collective agreement approving the cancelation of the illegal secondments.
“Since he has conquered the NHIS and made it his personal estate where decisions of the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are treated with contempt and the organised Labour are to be seen and never to be heard, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, after a meeting of its members in Abuja on Thursday May 4, 2017 wishes to demand as follows:
“1. That the Hon Minister, Federal Ministry of Health should enforce the report/agreement on the NHIS without further delay.
“ii. Evaluate the activities of the seconded officers during their stopover in the NHIS,” the letter added.
NHIS had recruited no fewer than 15 staff out of which 11 are from his North-west geo-political zone, with one from Taraba State in North-east and three from North-central zone, including a driver was yet another issue.
Yusuf, who has boasted severally before staff of the agency that he is not answerable to the minister of health but has a presidential mandate is allegedly engaged in deliberate distortion in career patterns and progression within the Scheme.
According to an insider, the official designation of a Grade Level 15 officer in the Scheme is General Manager (GM) and in this category, the ES engaged four substantive Level 15 officers but rather than designate them appropriately, he smartly ascribed ‘Head’ as their official designation.
Strangely too, a female staff with a birth date of October 24, 1984 (name withheld) from Kano State with Personal File number NHIS/2038 was catapulted to the position of Assistant General Manager (AGM), an equivalent to Assistant Director in the civil service in very suspicious and curious circumstance.
Findings indicate that the lady, who is slightly above 32-year old, may have spent less than 10 years in service to get to the position whereas those that graduated from the university at about the same time she was born are presently in the directorate cadre, just as her seniors in age, with more years of working experience and higher qualifications in the same department are at best Principals officers, Assistant Chiefs but certainly not Assistant Directors.