The panel set up by the Federal Ministry of Health to probe the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, and other activities at the NHIS has submitted its report to the Presidency.
Our correspondent, who visited the Presidential Villa on Friday, was given a copy of the report by a senior government official.
The panel described Yusuf as a public servant who “portrayed a holier-than-thou attitude but in the background, milked the agency dry” by conniving with others to perpetrate fraud to the tune of over N919m.
According to the panel, the sum of N919m was dubiously given as payment to consultants for staff training.
The committee said, as the head of the agency, Yusuf was personally responsible for all administrative, procurement and financial lapses.
The report read, “His (Yusuf) deceitful attitude coupled with ‘name-dropping’ of Mr. President as having sent him to sanitise the NHIS caused more harm than good to the scheme.”
The committee, therefore, recommended that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission probe the agency for diversion of funds and contravention of the Procurement Act of 2007.
The report stated that Yusuf contravened the act through nepotism and other irregular awards of contracts and should be sanctioned in line with the provision of the act.
Explaining how the alleged staff training scam took place, the committee said in some instances, the number of trainees was far more than the entire number of employees at the agency, while in some other instances, some employees were registered for the same training in two different states at the same time.
Most of the consultants were said to have charged about N250,000 per participant.
The report read, “The total number of staff at the NHIS is 1,360. The total number of staff trained by the scheme based on analysis of payment vouchers on training was 1,992, while the figure submitted by the NHIS was 2,023 within three months (October-December 2016).
“The difference between the number of staff trained and the number of staff on the nominal roll was as a result of manipulation of names. It was discovered that some staff did not attend (training) but payments were made for both course fee and staff allowances.”
The panel alleged that some consultants were directed to remit part of their fees into a specified private account as kickbacks.
For instance, GK Kanki Foundation was reportedly directed by the Assistant General Manager (Insurance) at the NHIS, Mr. Vincent Mamdam, to pay N2.8m into a Skye Bank account with number 1040569204 belonging to one Magaji Garba.
The committee revealed that, “The total course fees paid to the training firms was N508, 036, 096 while staff allowances for all the training was N411, 608, 704 totalling N919, 644, 800.”
According to the panel, the Procurement Department of the NHIS was not involved in the engagement of consultants for all the training programmes as the transactions were basically between the suspended NHIS boss and the Human Resources Department in contravention of the standard procurement process.
The committee said huge sums of money were also diverted through local and foreign trips taken by NHIS employees.
It said the estacode per day and per diem allowance for NHIS staff were in contravention of extant rules.
The NHIS boss received $900 estacode (for foreign trips) and N50,000 per diem (for local trips).
The panel revealed that for certain trips which were fully sponsored by companies or hospitals, the suspended NHIS boss still went ahead to receive estacode and per diem allowances.
The committee accused Yusuf of paying allowances and salaries to persons who were not employees of the NHIS.
It therefore asked the suspended NHIS boss and other staff who committed such infractions to refund N82m in travel allowances.
In its recommendation, the panel said, “The committee found that the total amount spent on the training was N919, 644, 800. The entire process and his actions involving all the foreign trips, engagement of training consultants and documentation of their payment processes amounting to N508, 036, 096 were devoid of due process.
“Therefore, the sum of N508, 036, 096 should be recovered from the training consultants by the NHIS.”
The report also indicted some management staff of the agency and several other companies.
Attempts to speak with the suspended NHIS boss proved abortive as he neither responded to phone calls nor text messages sent to him on Saturday evening.