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The Nine Sins that Saw Usman Yusuf Out of NHIS

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The Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has released a list of infractions that eventually prompted theindefinite suspension of the embattled Executive Secretary of the Scheme, Usman Yusuf. They are presented as follows:

(1) 2018 Budget Crisis
At the Inauguration of the council in March 2018, NHIS had no approved budget for its activities for 2018. Therefore, council underscored passing the 2018 Budget as priority. Unfortunately, management of the scheme seemed unmindful of the financial and operational risks and consequences of running a public entity without approved budget. Sadly, ten months into the financial year, the scheme has no approved budget.

To arrest the drift and expedite progress, the finance committee and council held five meetings, dedicated to the budget culminating in a resolution on 24th July 2018 which directed the Executive Secretary (ES) to amend, reflecting final council positions and represent for Chairman’s signature to avoid further delay.

Some highlights of the required amendments include the following;

a) Removal of the N264 million padding discovered in the budget proposal.

b) Reduction of the 2018 training budget from N1billion to a realistic N250 million to avoid the training stampede in 2017 when N919, 664, 800 was spent, in just three months, without needs assessment and departmental; training plans.

c) Removal of the N100 million posting and transfer provision since the council had adopted an early policy that transfers/postings shall be contingent upon outcome of comprehensive staff audit to enable the scheme align transfers and postings with needs, structure, skills and organization strategy.

D) Removal of the frivolous provision of N50 million for an additional SUV for the ES considering that one was acquired for him only last year.

However, after many reminders through council members, the ES forwarded the budget documents on the 6th August, 2018 without the amendments as directed. The Chairman subsequently, returned the budget documents to weeks later with detailed analysis. Significantly, till date there has been no response, compliance nor correspondence on the matter whatsoever from the ES despite written reminders sent to him by the Chairman.

2) Fraudulent Inflation Of The Cost Of Bio-metric Capturing Machines
The 2018 Budget Proposal submitted by the ES included the procurement of biometric capturing machines at a unit cost of N11, 500, 000.00 whereas the market cost is only between N700, 000.00 and N1, 4million depending on specifications. When council finance committee requested for more information and vendor presentation to justify the astronomical cost, the ES blatantly refused to oblige. It is significant that the ICT project cost escalated, without justification, by 42% from N7, 783, 185, 805.37 in 2015 to N18, 864, 674, 612.85v in 2016 and N14. 975, 032, 572.30 in 2018. Unfortunately, the ICT project which should significantly improve operational efficiency and service delivery is stalled because Executive Secretary denied council critical information requited for decision making on the project.

3) Attempt to illegally Execute N30 Billion Investment in FGN Bonds:
The ES submitted memos to council on 27th March and 25th April, 2018 requesting approval to invest N30billion residual funds. While the memoranda referenced ministerial approval for the investment dated 18th August 2017, it failed to disclose ministerial memo dated 29th August 2017 which withdrew the earlier approval stating that investment would violate the prevailing Presidential order on operating TSA.

If the ES had succeeded in misleading the council to approve this investment, the scheme would have violated the presidential order on the operations of the TSA. In addition, the attempt by the ES to execute the N30 billion FGN bonds Investment through a private company instead of directly through the CBN, would have resulted in the scheme incurring investment arbitrage costs of between N600million to N1.2 billion which would have accrued to the private company.. Consequently, on account of the wilful failure to fully disclose critical information, council stayed action on the investment.

4) Unlawful Staff Postings And Wilful Defiance of Council Directive
Organization execute staff transfers and postings to match skills with needs and also align skills with organizational structure and strategy. Therefore Council directed management on 7th May, 2018 to conduct management review and comprehensive staff audit to maximize organizational benefits from staff postings and transfers.

Furthermore, to stabilize the management cadre, strengthen institutional memory and create proactive, consistent, confident professional insulated from unpredictable political appointees, Council resolved that, henceforth the authority to appoint, post and discipline staff of the directorate cadre shall reside with council in accordance with provision of the NHIS Act. No 35, 1999 section 8 (4a).

However, on 3rd October, the ES conducted massive postings and transfers of over 85 staff, in defiance of council resolutions. Furthermore, there is no reason, rhyme or rationale for postings.

First, the postings are arbitrary and, in some cases, punitive. For example, the GM procurement was posted to a zonal office and replaced by another GM who has no experiences of procurement. Also with postings, another GM, with no accounting or IT management experiences was posted as GM Contribution Management.

Secondly, the financial cost to the scheme, N48million in staff relocation allowances is not approved in the 2018 budget because council stepped down the N100 million proposed for postings.

Finally, the strategic and operational benefits of the postings are negligible and a colossal waste, particularly in the context of the gross deficit 2018 budget proposed by the ES. Sadly, the postings and the stampede to pay allowances without budget approval, two days before this council meeting, constitute a defiant, proactive and insubordinate act by ES and underscore the prevalent fiscal and management recklessness.

It is on record that the ES signed the minutes of the meeting of 7th May 2018 and the extract therefrom which established council resolutions on general postings and specifically, postings of directorate cadre staff as NHIS policy.

5) Wilful Refusal to Implement Council Directive on the Disbanding of Illegal Union
The ES refused to implement council resolution directing a local chapter of the Nigeria Civil Service Union in NHIS from operating in NHIS as a parallel staff union within the scheme. Contrary to assurances to council that the resolution had been implemented, the said union continues to operate, and generate tension with active support of the ES. His current defense for this act of defiance is that his lawyers, not NHIS legal department advised him to ignore council resolution on the matter.

6) Unauthorized Staff Travel In Defiance of Council Directive
In May 2018, ES requested for approval to travel to Geneva for himself and four other staff, including his personal assistant. Approval was granted for him but denied for the other four. However, he traveled with the four staff in defiance of the council directive. This unauthorized entourage arrived in Geneva just one day before the conference closed. This trip cost NHIS the sum of N17million which exceeds limit of N2.5million. He failed to justify his action in this regard, when council demanded one.

7) Superfluous Arrogation of Project Vehicles
The ES remains insensitive to the consequences of the gross budget deficit operated by scheme and continues to aggregate non-essential spending. For example, he arrogated seven project vehicles to himself. Three of these cars are for the office and four are located in his house. Also, one vehicle is allocated to his personal assistant who is not entitled to a vehicle. Besides, he is paid N500 thousand fuel allowance monthly for seven project vehicles to himself in the face of critical transportation challenges in states and zonal offices. The 2018 budget proposes additional N50million to procure another Toyota land cruiser for the ES. He has defiantly presented this item in the final draft against council directive. At the last council meeting the evidence submitted by Union petition was presented, he insisted the pool of vehicles were his entitlements as CEO. He then stormed out of the meeting.

8) Insubordinate Conduct by the ES
Council members, in particular the chairman, have been subjected to verbal assaults, unruly outbursts and various forms of unprofessional behavior by the ES, These include not limited but habitual lateness to council meetings. Some examples eloquently make our case here:

24th July, 2018 the ES arrived one hour late to the emergency budget review meeting holding next door to his office and offered no apology to council.

In August 2018, he unilaterally cancelled scheduled council meeting, rescheduled it and issued meeting notice to members without reference to chairman.

On October 17th, he sauntered to the meeting 35 minutes late, without apology, and demanded that his agenda, assembled without consultation, be accepted as the operated agenda for the meeting.

Explicit and wilful refusal to implement many council decision.

9) Failure to provide leadership for development of the strategic plan for the Agency despite Council’s Directives

As it stands, 13 years after establishment NHIS does not have a strategic plan. In March, 2018, Council directed management to work with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive 10 year strategic plan.

He argues that the strategic plan, management review and the staff audit are not his priority and is unable to appreciate the urgency and the significance of these critical management tools to reposition NHIS to achieve its mandate.

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You’ve Nothing to Offer Nigerians, Only Insults, Akwa Ibom Gov Slams Tinubu

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, on Monday, replied the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, saying that he (Tinubu) always resorts to abusing and insulting people during campaigns because he has nothing to bring to the table for Nigerians.

He also said that despite being insulted by the former Lagos State Governor, he would prefer to allow peace to reign by ignoring him and focusing on helping install good governance to rescue Nigerians from their present woes.

Emmanuel spoke on Monday evening at Government House, Uyo while inaugurating newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commissions, as well as a Transition Committee to ensure the smooth transition of power to the next administration.

Recall that Tinubu had during his rally in Uyo Monday afternoon, reportedly said, “Akwa Ibom, that boy wey bring Atiku here, wey de call himself Governor, tell him enough is enough! He lives in my backyard in Lagos, If no be say we be one, I would have driven him home. You see that mansion he is living, I would just use lizards, pigeons and scorpions to put him inside.“

But reacting few hours later, the Akwa Ibom State Governor said, “for the country to remain in peace, one party must ‘play saint’ and that is why he would refrain from replying Tinubu.

Emmanuel who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential campaigns said, “I also go to other states, and if you watch our campaigns, my principal (Atiku Abubakar) has never spoken about any Governor, he has never spoken openly about Asiwaju before.”

He added that it was unfortunate that Tinubu, who was granted state-owned facilities such as the airport, security, stadium, and a good atmosphere to come in and sell his manifesto, ended up coming to insult the integrity of over 7.9 million Akwa Ibom people.

The Governor wondered if it is possible for any Akwa Ibomite to go to Lagos that Tinubu stays or the actual state that he hails from, to insult Tinubu in like manner and still be allowed to safely return home, “but here our people at the stadium including some state governors just laughed and applauded him.”

“What makes him think he will govern Nigeria? If I reply him now, people will call me and say, haba oga you are not like that. But I will reply him one day. There is nothing like ‘emilokan’ (it is my turn) here, Nigeria is in God’s hands.”

He maintained further that despite being the highest revenue contributor to the federation account, Akwa Ibom State has not gotten a single kilometre of road from the APC-led Federal Government for nearly 8 years adding that the poor response from the Federal Government also caused the delayed commencement of the seaport in the state.

Meanwhile, the governor thanked the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries for accepting the onerous task of service, and urged them to see themselves as ambassadors and work towards raising the bar of leadership which would encourage productivity and promote good working relationship with subordinates in the service.

“This is one thing I promised Akwa Ibom people that appointment of Permanent Secretaries shall be totally on merit and not by mercy, let those that can do the work be given the opportunity. Permanent Secretary is not a promotion, it is an appointment on merit.

Governor Emmanuel also reiterated his commitments towards enhancing efficiency within Civil Service, noting that during his administration civil servants have been promoted on yearly basis.

He assured that before he exits office more Permanent Secretaries would be appointed into the service to fill vacant positions left by the ones who retired.

Addressing Chairmen of Boards and Commissions, Governor Emmanuel who described them as pillars in government, acknowledged their commitment particularly, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, for winning laurels for the state through his outstanding performance in keeping and making the state the cleanest in Nigeria for five consecutive years from 2018 through 2022, and tasked others to create an impact that will stand them out.

In the same vein, the Transition Committee members were handed the task of ensuring a seamless transition of government to an incoming administration, and also verify all projects executed by the present administration.

The newly appointed Permanent Secretaries are; Mfon Inuaesiet Edemekong Esq., Dr. Stephen Effiong, Atim Chelly Okoko, Iquo Okon Abia Esq., Uwem Sunday Andrew-Essien, Isaiah Robson Ntekim and Emaeyak Nyong Akpan as Auditor-General for Local Government.

The Transition Committee has Mrs. Ekereobong Umoh -Chairman, Uko Udom SAN, Prof Augustine Umoh, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, Mrs. Nsemeke Daniel, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, Mr Elijah Udoiyak, Mrs. Esther Inyang, Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien, Mr. Isaiah Ntekim, Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong and Mrs. Bella Akpanya as members.

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PDP Condemns Attack on Buhari in Kano, Blames Tinubu, Ganduje

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The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, has blamed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attacks on the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, during a visit to the state on Monday.

The spokesperson of the campaign council, Dino Melaye, who shared one of the videos from the reported attack, wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.

“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Bourdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”

A political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who shared another video of the reported attack, said, “They are showing Buhari and APC Shege in Kano and many northern states.”

Similarly, the PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Monday also blamed Tinubu and the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attack.

According to the party, the attack was designed to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections “and derail our democracy having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.”

The statement read in part, “The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.

“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari while performing his official duties in Kano.

“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.

“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.”

Ologunagba reminded Nigerians about Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte.”

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Organ Harvesting: Ekweremadu Battles for Freedom, Appears in Court Tuesday

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A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, will on Tuesday appear again in court in the United Kingdom where he has been accused of human trafficking.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested at Heathrow Airport in London after Staines Police Station received a report from a young man claiming to have been trafficked into the UK.

The young man, who made the report shortly after arriving in the UK from Nigeria, also alleged that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

Ekweremadu was immediately arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court for bringing a child into the UK to harvest his organs.

While the lawmaker had been in custody since June 23, his wife, Beatrice, who was arrested with him, was granted bail by a criminal court in London shortly after their arrest.

Monday (today) makes it 221 days since Ekweremadu was placed in the custody of UK authorities.

The case against the lawmaker which had been slated for May was later scheduled for January 31.

The 60-year-old, who denied the allegations against him, will again appear before High Court Judge, Mr Justice Johnson.

His daughter, Sonia, had on November 7, 2022, appeared in court to defend the accusation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself.

According to Daily Mail, the 25-year-old, who is battling a kidney-related illness, pleaded not guilty to the charge level against her when she appeared again in court on January 13.

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