By Jude Johnson
The United Youth Alliance Against Corruption (UYAAC) on April 21, 2017 wrote a petition against the embattled Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, containing several allegations bordering on fraud, nepotism and outright abuse of office.
The letter, which was signed by the UYAAC Coordinator, Mr. Solomon Agbo, was copied to the Presidency, Vice-President, Acting SGF, Minister of Health, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, ICPC, DSS, Nigerians, Press, Head of Service of the Federation, NHISLC President, TUG President, Permanent Sec Fed Min. of Health, and NSA.
Part of the statement read: “In line with the tenets set forth by the ideals of our country’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, on the principles fair play, transparency, rapid targeted development, acts devoid of corruption and elimination of all primordial sentiments, which hitherto had almost torn the seams of our national existence.
“I thus elect to bring to the attention of the government and general public the nepotistically inimical and criminally oriented acts currently being machinated and executed by the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf.”
“More so, knowing the pains that my immediate constituency (The Youths), who have been grossly shortchanged in the sharing of National resources, but are, constrained to make financial contributions to the NHIS pool from their meager incomes. We will rise as a group to fight and oppose any plan to criminally mortgage our health insurance. Never will we sit and witness the rot that occurred to pension funds befalls our health plans.
“Professor Usman Yusuf’s expertise in the field of pediatrics and exposure in healthcare delivery is not in doubt. The issue at stake is whether he is corrupt, violating financial laws of the country, nepotically inclined and therefore not a reflection of integrity and sincerity personified by President Muhammadu Buhari who appointed him.
“Corruption is one of the burning issues in Nigeria; it cuts across various strata of governance. My focus in the first of these series of addresses is the NHIS, under the leadership of Professor Usman Yusuf.
“NHIS as it stand today is riddled in a mess and monumental corruption institutionalized by the current head of the scheme. Where there’s corruption in government somebody or everybody is making a lot of money, which makes it dangerous.
“We also know accepting fraud from our leaders means accepting fraud in our personal lives.”
A quick rundown of the grey areas as it affects the operations and orientation of NHIS are listed below:
- The first fraudulent act of the Executive Secretary was perpetuated through the training programme of staff. The total sum of 860 million naira was budgeted for training in the 2016 budget. Immediately Prof. Yusuf assumed duty, he set in place machinery to award contracts for trainings which were all devoid of laid down procedures. These trainings where not targeted to improve the capacity of the staff but towards his personal profiteering, as will be observed in the empty content of the trainings particularly in the ICT sector. This he perfected with his cronies by organizing five (5) different trainings namely: 1) ICT, 2) Risk Management, 3) Healthcare Financing, 4) Communication strategy, 5) Public Procurement.
All these spending he carried out were above his approval limits, but he was always heard to claim that he has the ears of the President, they being from the same state, and whatever your complaints, they will go nowhere.
Under the ICT training the contractor, First Digital and Techno-Law Forensics ltd spent over 400 million naira by contract splitting which is anti-ethical to laid down procurement rules, all designed to profit the owner, Mallam Mahdi, who happens to be his benefactor and confidant. This he achieved by positioning him to supervise all the contracts nationwide in ICT, First Digital incidentally got the bulk of these jobs.
In one of the trainings, a course fee of 520,000 naira per staff for three days local training was approved without recourse to diligent planning but with the mindset to profiteer his cronies. After a lot of hue and cry from the general staff the fee was cut to 270,000 naira under suspicious circumstances.
Thus the fraud began, most of these trainings which were scheduled to hold across the 36 states and the FCT never held, while those that held was incomparable to the funds which had all being released for the trainings. There was absence of training materials in most of the designated venues of the trainings.
Multiples of payment vouchers ranging between 19 million, 18 million and 21million where raised to cover up for the payment of over 400 million naira for these trainings. One of his cronies, Mr. Aliyu Dodo Lawal who was instrumental in this cover up should be held to provide more documentary evidence.
In a similar vein over 250 million naira was arranged between Prof. Yusuf and a consultant, AMA Health Consult, owned by three retired managers of the scheme, who are also bosom friends of the ES, namely: Abdulsalam Bala, Dr. Kabiru Mustafa and Dr. Thomas Adeoye.
It is on record that when these men were kidnapped in 2014, Prof. Yusuf paid part of their ransom, giving them this contract is not a pay-back but a channel through which he will still profiteer from the monies realized.
The training in question was awarded initially at 300,000 naira per staff for 3 days, but after vociferous outcry from staff it was again reduced to 250,000 naira.
Similarly, a training of over 120,000,000 million naira was approved for staff training outside the country to his friend Mahdi, on Risk Management, all geared towards kickbacks.
The amount of 150,000,000 million naira was also approved for the consultant in the training of Report writing, who also happens to be his brother who is a retired director, by name Alh. Kabiru Yaradua.
It should be observed that all these approvals by Prof. Yusuf are above his approval threshold according to laid down norms of the service, circumventing this by contract splitting.
- That Professor Usman Yusuf approved Supply of E-library equipment to a Company named Promatrix Global resources Ltd for 28 Million Naira with the company getting paid before execution. This is against procurement rules.
Attached as Appendix 3A-3C and 4A-4C, are different store receipt vouchers with differing dates on when goods where supplied but same date of payment. The goods where supplied on the 06/04/2017 while the job had been paid for on the 28/03/2017 but the vouchers were tampered with by the GM Finance and Accounts to cover the above mentioned anomaly. Assuming that the job was executed on the 27/04/2017, how possible is it to install and make payment within a day. These are questions the ES, GM F&A and GM Audit should answer for.
- That he Professor Usman awarded a media consultancy job to his brother Alhaji Kabir Yar’Adua, meanwhile the Honourable Minister for Health had previously instructed the ES to disengage the Head of Procurement, who led the tender board meeting and signed those award letters, therefore, all those awarded contacts including that of E-library which was paid for before Execution as mentioned earlier are all illegal as it has contradicted the procurement laws of the land, therefore, funds must be refunded.
- Payment of funds to contractors before supply of goods in connivance with Head of Finance, Mr. John Okon and Head of Audit, Shehu Adamu to help in covering up the payment of funds before execution of contracts. See Appendix 3 and 4.
- The leadership of NHIS has developed the culture of spending the Schemes funds without prior approval of the supervising minister, claiming Mr. President had given him blank approval.
- Professor Usman Yusuf has severally awarded contracts above his 2.5M Naira threshold which is against procurement act, and most of the contracts were awarded to Mallam Mahdi and his brothers.
- That he encouraged the supply of fake products and substandard goods to the store, with a warning to the GM Finance and Accounts of the consequences of turning them down. Instead of encouraging him to be unto his job and deliver on good quality
- That most of the contracts given during his time are inflated to over 100 percent.
- That he has bragged repeatedly of having the backing of Mr. President in disobedience to his supervising Minister, Minister of Labour, TUC and NLC with his continued non obedience of the aforementioned, the question begging for an answer now, is Mr. President aware as he claimed, we doubt this very much, is our President encouraging corruption or what?
- Mr. Vincent, the head of insurance is an Actuarial Scientist by profession, while there is an insurance expert in the scheme Mr. Ibanga and Mr. Solomon was transferred to Minna based on intimidation antics of Vincent, since both the ES and Mr. Vincent have an ulterior plan to fleece the scheme.
- I would also want the security agencies to find out how insurance brokers are chosen for the scheme? Is it by Mallam Mahdi and Prof. Usman Yusuf?
- One of the insurance companies so chosen, Guinea Insurance never had an office in Abuja, but were brought on board to facilitate the criminal activities of the above mentioned duo. The EFCC should check their books. The ES has always insisted that you don’t need to choose your HMO, but what is his interest in insisting on particular insurance companies? This is pertinent questions to be answered.
- Each HMO pays 7.2 million naira to the insurance company, presently there are over 34 national HMOs, the EFCC should also beam it searchlight on this matter. Why the flat rate?
- Also of foremost importance is the declaration of Prof. Yusuf that he will not give jobs to any one that is not his person, which he has been doing. Let the names of companies that he awarded contracts to since August 2016 be brought out and their financial transactions examined, since most are his cronies and fronts through which he arranges kick-backs.
- Also, Prof. Usman was found out to have grossly abused his office and paved an avenue for him to fleece the scheme through the set in policy of assisting enrollees of the scheme in seeking medical attention. He single-handedly increased the approved financial support to one Fatima Saidu Dabai from a sum of N10, 800,000.00 to N16, 220,600 which he directed to be paid to Katameya Firstcall Hospital Ltd as against the first approval to pay directly to the lady. It was discovered that the said hospital is owned by his friend, also he flouted the rules of the scheme which state that aid will be offered to only enrollees, and hospitals to be used must be accredited by the scheme. Both of which he flouted.
This same case was also observed in the person of Nnodim Chinyere, where a sum of N16, 079,100.00 was arbitrarily approved by the ES flouting the same rules stated above in the same hospital. Attached to back this up is Appendix 6A-6C.
It should be observed that there are many enrollees currently awaiting supports which he has thrown into the dustbin.
The ES denied a staff of the Kaduna office, Mr. Al Amin Mohammed medical assistance which ultimately lead to his demise, while these two persons mentioned above were not even enrolls.
This same act is what he had previously accused the HMOs of conniving with enrollees to cheat the scheme which he is now perpetuating.
- The ES without recourse to laid down norms approved the sum of N210, 000,000.00 for Electronic media, in connivance with the GM Finance, GM Audit and the new Media Head.
- Sadly, corruption has become so common in NHIS, that people are averse to thinking of NHIS without this phenomenon. Files are now routed by hand to prevent discovery of all these untoward acts. NHIS is on downward slope, destruction and collapse, the Economic and financial crime commission must rise to the occasion and face the glaring truth, courage and foresight to do the needy. The path to greatness has been handicapped by institutionalized corruption spearheaded by Professor Usman Yusuf.
- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should as a matter of urgency demand for all the files to these cases and go to NHIS procurement department for documents that will back up these claims.
- The EFCC will have to demonstrate to the Presidency, Nigerians and the international community that she is serious in fighting corruption and fraud in high places by proving her efficiency and effectiveness in the way and manner it handles this petition against the Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, Professor Usman Yusuf.
22.Since he has been saying that he has security report against his GMs please let him bring it out, we shall help him to prosecute them and also the scheme funds that he said he has recovered let him make the names of HMOs concerned so we can help him prosecute them.
- The labour bodies should also scrutinize the activities of the local chapters there, since their inactivity to these glaring misdeeds makes one suspect as they may also be complicit in the rot.
PRAYERS: Sir, my humble request is for the anti-Corruption bodies to independently investigate the activities of the scheme, while Prof Usman Yusuf just as in the case of the SGF, should also be immediately suspended together with the GMs of Finance and Audit Head so that there will be further investigation to allow the law take its natural course. If the SGF will be suspended so that due process will be followed then why not Prof. Usman and his corrupt Directors! Otherwise justice, fairness and equity will never be achieved.