The staff and management of Nigeria’s Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) between 2016 and 2017 helped themselves with several ‘irregular’ and unapproved allowances totalling N6.8 billion, a recently released audit report has revealed.
These infractions were recorded during the reign of Usman Yusuf, the controversially sacked NHIS Executive Secretary, according to the 2017 Annual Audit from the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF).
The report adds a new layer to the barrage of allegations of fraudulent activities that tainted Mr Yusuf’s trenure.
The 2017 report, which is the latest by the auditor-general, listed several irregular allowances within the period under review.
They include Upfront Allowance; Upfront differential Allowance; 13th Month Salary Allowance; Pre-retirement Overseas Training Allowance; and Sitting Allowance.
The above payments totalling N4.9 billion violated Public Service Rule 130102, as they are not part of the allowances listed as payable to officers in the Federal Public Service, the report found.
The OAGF submission revealed that these allowances were paid without providing approvals of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, contravening the act of the commission.
The report said differential payment is “illegal and alien” to the public service.
Another N1.8 billion was paid to staff as ‘administrative allowances; Children Education Allowances; and domestic allowances’.
These payments were not approved by the relevant authorities, contravening 2004 circular which states that “all self-funded federal Parastatals and Agencies which wish to monetise their fringe benefits should always submit the proposal package to the National Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission for necessary evaluation and approval before implementation”.
Besides irregular payments to staff, the report said the federal health insurance office engaged in at least another 13 illegal financial dealings amounting to N748 million during the period under review.
The scheme spent a total of ₦355 million on capital projects which were not appropriated for in 2016 and 2017 Capital Appropriation Act – a practice “contrary to Financial Regulations 417”, a further breakdown of the document revealed.
According to the report, NHIS also spent ₦161 million on International travels ”without any evidence of approval by the Head of Service of the Federation.”
Similarly, ₦20 million was paid to retiring officers to attend pre-retirement workshops outside Nigeria.
The report said further examinations revealed ”there was no letter of invitation/admission or certificates of attendance from the various institutions where the conferences and training were held.”
Also, there were no air tickets and visas attached to prove that the officers embarked on the training.
The NHIS was equally accused of paying N72 million and N31. million respectively for the verification and accreditation of Health Maintenance Organizations without any form of evidence to confirm if the verification and accreditation exercises took place.
The report observed that several vehicles were illegally allocated to the Executive Secretary, ”his personal aides and allies”.
The AOGF highlighted several extant regulations contravened by the aforementioned irregular financial dealings. It recommended a total refund in most cases.
AGENCY STEEPED IN FRAUD
The 2017 OAGF report has shed more light into several accusations of fraud that characterised Mr Yusuf’s reign at the NHIS.
In his three-year stint (2016 to 2019), the controversial official was sent on suspension twice within a year; accused of fraud, gross misconduct, insubordination and continuous infighting with staff and management of the scheme.
In November 2018, the governing board of NHIS raised an alarm that the agency was near a “tipping point” and may collapse within the next three years.
Reached by phone on Monday, Mr Yusuf dismissed a PREMIUM TIMES reporter and the audit report using expletives.
But even before Mr Yusuf, monumental fraud, opacity and impunity had become standard practice at the NHIS, a PREMIUM TIMES 2018 report revealed.
The 2016 annual report from the OAGF revealed that billions of naira were unaccounted for by the management of the NHIS in the previous seven years.
The NHIS, which was meant to reduce out-of-pocket spending on health, has remained stuck due to fraud and controversies as indicated in the OAGF report. It has also faced technical, legal and administrative challenges.
A decade-and-a-half after its inception, the NHIS covers only about five per cent of the Nigerian population, mostly civil servants. While millions of Nigerians remain uncovered, the few enrolled under the scheme complain of poor service delivery.
Reformer on board?
As at press time, Ayo Osinlu, the NHIS spokesperson, had not returned nor responded to calls and text messages seeking clarification from the scheme over the new findings.
Meanwhile, the scheme appears to be moving on from its dark days.
After the axe fell on Mr Yusuf last June, Mohammed Sambo who was appointed as his replacement, has been taking steps to get the scheme back on track.
In his maiden interaction with staff and management of the NHIS, the new Executive Secretary revealed his three-point agenda for the scheme.
They include ”restoring value system that will transform NHIS into a credible result-driven organisation”, he said.
This he said, would resolve the crisis and restore public confidence in the scheme.
Mr Sambo, a professor of Health Policy and Management, has also been engaging with several stakeholders in the scheme.
CREDITS: PREMIUM TIMES
PCRC Decorates Bauchi Governor As National Patron, Present Him With Certificate Of Honour
The National leadership of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) on Wednesday decorated Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of Bauchi state as its National patron.
Accordingly, the forum presented a certificate of honor to the Governor in recognition of his relentless efforts, philanthropic gestures and excellent performance towards the upliftment and development of PCRC in Nigeria.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Council Chamber, Government House, Bauchi, the National Chairman of the Committee, Faruq Abdullahi Maiyama said the honour done to the Governor was in appreciation for his outstanding support to the PCRC when he was the FCT Minister notably the allocation of land.
He noted with satisfaction, the support and cooperation of the state government to the Police Community Relations Committee in the state especially the inauguration of the Community Policing Advisory Committee and the Community Policing Committee in Bauchi.
“I am very impressed to be in Bauchi not because of the reception accorded to us, but this is the first time we are coming to Bauchi for our NEC meeting in which the governor would be decorated as the National Patron. Kauran Bauchi is a National figure haven served before as FCT Minister where he supported us in many ways.”
“Your Excellency, you are a man of the people and that’s why we decided to conduct our NEC meeting just to show you our appreciation for your support to us.”
The National Chairman said PCRC was committed to the promotion of peace and security in the country and pledged to work with critical stakeholders in order to achieve the set objectives.
A statement issue by Mukhtar Gidado, Senior Special Assistant on Media, said Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed told the visitors that already, the state government has inaugurated the Community Policing Advisory Committee and the Community Policing Committee to assist police in curbing criminal activities in the state.
The Governor who spoke through his Deputy, Senator Baba Tela said his administration will continue to support security agencies including voluntary organisations in a move to rid the state against all forms of criminal activities and social vices.
“I sincerely welcome you to Government House Bauchi on behalf of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi state, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, we all know the importance of community policing committee and security to our development.”
“In spite of the influx of the population of people who are coming to the state from neighbouring states, we have been able to keep the state safe with the support of relevant security agencies including voluntary organisations.”
Governor Bala Mohammed therefore reassured that, his doors will remain open for improvement in the security of the state and acknowledged the outstanding performances of security agencies in the maintenance of peace and security in the state.
Nigeria @ 60: FCT Minister Of State, Dr. Aliyu Donates Cooking Gas, Food Items, To Trademore Flood Victims
…. Warns Residents To Stay Off wmWaterways.
By Yahaya Idris, Abuja.
As part of activities to mark Nigeria 60th Independence Anniversary, FCT Minister of State, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has donated 50 pieces of Cooking Gas and assorted food items to victims of Trademore estate in Lugbe area of Abuja Municipal Area Council who were recently ravaged by flood.
The minister who visited the scene of the flood used the occasion to warn residents to stay off waterways, while assuring that the administration would approach the Ecological Funds Office for assistance.
A signed press released by SA Media, Austine Elemue, said Dr. Aliyu commended residents of the estate for demonstrating maturity and sense of patriotism during the disaster, stressing that governance is a collective responsibility.
In her words: “I came this afternoon bearing in mind all that has happened to residents of this estate. Despite my tight schedules, I still finds it pertinent to come here in person to commensurate with you over the loss of life of our brother and the wanton destruction of property.
“I am here to also appeal to you as much as possible before any intervention from Ecological Funds office or any relevant government agencies to stay clear of waterways. Certainly, this year’s rain not only in Trademore is very heavy with colossal damages associated with it. This also tells us to appeal to our brothers in this estate and other parts who have constructions along the water-line to move to higher ground for now.
“One, it is better to be alive. This is not time to trade blame over who construct what on the waterways. But we are appealing that if you are along the waterline, you have to move before something else happen to you.
“So I want to appeal to you that natural disaster do happen without advance notice. It is not within your power or that of government. We feel your pains and we know what it means to loss a life. I want to also thank you for your patience and understanding with the government and the situation we find ourselves in”.
The minister used the occasion to task Nigerians to celebrate the 60th independence anniversary of the country, noting that despite the challenges faced by the nation, October 1 was worth celebrating.
According to her, “Nigeria will be 60 years tomorrow. No matter the situation we find ourselves, October 1 still remains a day to celebrate. To come of age and to clock diamond age is not an easy task.
Whatever anybody will think of Nigeria, we appeal to you to put the country first. Country first will move us forward, but patience and collective responsibility will take us further. Nation building is a collective responsibility”.
Earlier, the chairman of Trademore Estate Phase 3, Engr. Adewale Adenaike, commended the minister for her prompt response to the flood victims, just as he tasked the FCT Administration to address the situation urgently before it goes out of hand.
Adenaike, also stated that the ecological problem in the estate was beyond the capacity of the Abuja Municipal Area Council, hence the need for the intervention of Ecological Funds office to come to the aid of residents of the estate.
NAF Names Buildings After Arotile, 9 Other Officers
The Nigerian Air Force has named a two-block of 4 x 2 bedroom married officers accommodation at the NAF Base in Abuja after the late first female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.
This is happening a few weeks after a remodeled Pilots’ crew room ’ at the 115 Special Operations Group, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was named after the pilot who died in a car accident at the NAF Base in Kaduna in July.
Disclosing this during the inauguration of the buildings at NAF Base Asokoro, Abuja, on Wednesday, the Director of Administration, Air Vice Marshal A. Pani, said nine other deceased officers, who died in active service, were also similarly honoured with blocks of buildings named after them.
He said that the buildings were constructed by the Ministry of Defence as part of its 2018 capital project.
Pani stated, “These blocks are, therefore, being named after nine officers and one airman to immortalise them in recognition of their sacrifices.
“In this regard, at NAF Base Bill Clinton Drive, one of the two blocks of 10 x 1 bedroom transit accommodation is named after Flying Officer AA Mohammed (NAF/5082), who was KIA (killed in action) on 5 Sep 20 in Birnin Gwari while the second block of 10 x 1 bedroom transit accommodation is named after Flt Lt Akweke Junior Nwakile (NAF/3014) who was KIA on 21 Jul 14 while participating in Operation Lafiya Dole in the North -East.
“Additionally, the two blocks of 4 x 2 bedroom married officers accommodation are named after Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile (NAF/4512F) who died as a result of road traffic accident on July 24, 2020 at NAF Base Kaduna and Flt. Lt. John Ayonoteh Adams (NAF/3104) who was KIA on Feb 19, 2013 while participating in Operation Zaman Lafiya.”
Abubakar, said the provision of befitting accommodation for the personnel and their families remained a top priority for the NAF.
“We are currently undertaking massive renovations, remodelling and upgrading of existing accommodation in NAF Bases across the country in order to bring them to acceptable standard,” he noted.
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