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From two weeks to eight months: Pres. Buhari’s slow-motion finally reaches the NHIS

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From two weeks to eight months: Pres. Buhari’s slow-motion finally reaches the NHIS

On November 2nd, 2018, the presidency set up a panel to investigate graft allegations against the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Usman Yusuf, and asked him to proceed on administrative leave.

  • The first time Yusuf was suspended by the Governing Council of the NHIS, President Buhari recalled him in February 2018.
  • The second time he was suspended, Yusuf recalled himself and said the Council had no right to suspend him. He got police escorts and forced his way into the premises. It took a public outcry for the president to send him on leave and order an investigation.

Baba-Go-Slow: That investigation was supposed to commence in November and take two weeks. But since then nothing happened until this week (eight months later) when the president officially terminated Yusuf’s appointment following the recommendations of the independent fact-finding panel on the NHIS headed by Hassan Bukar.

According to a statement issued by Mrs Boade Akinola of the Federal Ministry of Health, the President has appointed Professor Mohammed Sambo, as the new head of the NHIS while the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Health has been activated to exercise full powers of the council pending the constitution of a new board.

Why it matters: Professor Usman Yusuf finally bows out after a long battle with staff and the Governing board of the agency, while still embroiled in a court case which concerns the legality of his initial suspension by the ex-minister for health, Professor Isaac Adewole. For a long time Yusuf was deemed to be untouchable due to his repeated defying of the Governing board of the NHIS. His sack is overdue and the time lag between when the panel finished its work and when action was taken is another evidence of the slow pace of action in the current government.

Bottomline: This development finally puts to rest the speculation which has been hanging over the head of the embattled former NHIS boss as well as the legality of his continued stay in office.

Read: Profile of Mohammed Nasir Sambo, the new Executive Secretary of the NHIS.

READ: Nigeria is trying to fund universal health coverage. Here’s what it looks like

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