Admin l Monday, July 17, 2017
ABUJA, Nigeria – Over 30 civil rights organisations, under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Groups, on Monday, described as biased the ethnic intervention on the suspension of the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman, by the Northern Youth groups and the House of Representatives.
While describing the action of the embattled boss of the NHIS as insubordination, the coalition advised him to “tender an apology to the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Nigerians for the gross misconduct.”
The action of the lawmakers, it said, amounted to “an ugly and unprecedented approach”, advising them to endeavour to uphold their position on issues relating to allegations of corruption as witnessed in the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal.
The investigative committee set up by the Minister of Health, the coalition said, should start their assignment immediately and make their findings open to the public and adhere to due process. The COCSGs made its position known in a communique issued at the end of its emergency meeting held in Abuja where it passed a vote of confidence on Adewole.
The resolution was signed by the President of COCSGs; Bassey Etuk Williams; Secretary, Abubakar Ibrahim; Chairman (Communique Drafting Committee), Mallam Musa Usman and Secretary, Obiora Nwosu.
Others are its Coordinators in South-West, Olayinka Tunde; South-East, Ogechi Akoma; North-Central, Alhaji Sidi Ali; South-South, Nelson Osaise; North-West, Alhaji Shehu Dambata and North-East, Hajiya Binta Yakubu. The group however observed that condemning the purchase of vehicle on loan for official use was improper as the engagement of vehicles for official use cannot be considered as a violation of civil service regulation on the relationship between ministries and parastatals.
The communique reads: “The 48 hours ultimatum given to the Minister of Health to revert the suspension of the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Yusuf Usman, or be sued by the Northern Youths Development Association and the biased call for his immediate reinstatement by the House of Representative formed the crux of our deliberation.
“We condemn in strong terms the use of ethnic platforms to intervene on a national issue especially when it bothers down on corrupt practices. We observed that the trend could escalate into ethnic rivalry and tension. However, we support any objective interrogation on good governance and accountability and hence the issues emanating from the Ministry of Health and NHIS deserve public scrutiny.
“We hereby pass a vote of confidence on the Hon. Minister of Health. The Executive Secretary of NHIS should respect the suspension order placed on him to allow for proper investigation of the said allegations. His refusal to obey the suspension order is an act of insubordination and should not be encouraged as his refusal could create unwarranted tension in system. Yusuf Usman should show remorse and therefore apologise to 180 million Nigerians and the Minister of Health for such gross misconduct. We condemn the lawmakers biased conclusion and allegation that the suspension of the executive secretary of NHIS was due to his refusal to accede to series of demands for money by the Minister of Health.”
The group frowned at the outcry over the manner in which the committee set up to investigate the NHIS was constituted, while it also condemned the assertion that the members of the committee were corrupt.
The COCSGs described as unfortunate the fact that request of about N5 million for sponsorship of officials to the 70th World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in May, 2017 was neither approved nor released by Yusuf.
The group said, “While we as a group are for an egalitarian society and due process and at the same time ensure that the fight against corruption must be won, we however condemn in strong terms the flagrant abuse of privilege through arrogance and disrespect to constituted authority as all are equal before the law and we must ensure we build a strong institution and not personality. It is sacrosanct for all Nigerians to note that a service to a nation of over 180 million citizens is an honour.
“We condemn the observed frosty relationship between the Executive Secretary of NHIS and the Minister of Health as the bitter gesture will certainly retard the achievement of the intended progress desired by both of them and the Government of Muhammadu Buhari.
“We believe that the investigation will avail Prof. Usman Yusuf the opportunity to defend his reputation and clear himself of the allegations. We observed that the budget of the NHIS is captured under the annual budget of the Ministry of Health therefore, it is expected that the minister supervises and interrogates the implementation of the budget.
“We demand that the Minister engage all legal means to prosecute all persons involved in the alleged monumental corruption discovered during the reign of the former NHIS boss. We therefore implore the minister to avail the civil society of his achievements within the two years in office.
“We urge all to support the ongoing reform process in the polity especially those that has to do with fight against corruption and ensure that due diligence is carried out by the committee set up to investigate the allegations against NHIS Executive Secretary and make the investigation Public for record purpose, and also urge the Executive Secretary to obey the instruction concerning his suspension to allow for thorough investigation into the matter. We support President Muhammdu Buhari anti-corruption war but condemn the use of ethnic platform to engage in the fight.”