Three unions with members in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) office on Monday protested the resumption of its suspended Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf.
The unions are the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU).
The protest trailed the resumption of Yusuf, after the NHIS Governing Council had suspended him indefinitely for alleged gross misconduct on October 18.
Policemen numbering close to 50 broke the gates to the headquarters of the NHIS, escorting the suspended Executive Secretary into the premises.
The policemen fired tear gas to disperse members of staff, who had attempted to prevent Usman from gaining entry.
The NHIS boss, who was suspended by the governing council of the NHIS for alleged gross misconduct insisted that the board had no power to suspend him.
Mr Abdulrazak Omomaji, Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servant of Nigeria, who led the protest by the union members on Monday, in Abuja, said Prof. Yusuf remained suspended.
“NHIS is guided and governed by an established Act with a constituted governing council, the council resolved using powers and available evidence of alleged corruption to suspend Yusuf.
“Presently there are a lot of allegations against him involving the 2018 budget crisis which include removal of the N264 million padding discovered in the budget.
“He engaged in nepotism in Nov. 2016 by fraudulently awarding contract to Lubekh Nigeria Limited for the training of NHIS staff members who were his relatives, among other allegations.
“He has been suspended, but if he insists on resuming work, then he will be scoring the present government very low in the fight against corruption.
“We stand against his resumption because he resumed with armed policemen and intimidated us,’’ he said.
Mr Olawuyi Kayode, the Chairman Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, noted the present government’s stand on integrity with zero tolerance for corruption.
He explained that the governing council carried out its mandate to suspend him due to infractions discovered in the system with several petitions against him, which the union supported.
However, Mr Mohammed Gajo, a Principal Manager and Chairman Nigeria Civil Service Union, criticised the protest saying the executive secretary was working with a very articulate and robust plan to sanitise the scheme.
He added that the protest by the joint union was an indication that the members wanted to resist positive changes by the executive secretary.
“The ES has recovered a lot of money since his assumption of office; he remitted about N1.2 billion to the TSA account; he insisted that the Health Management Organisations paid back funds meant for health facilities.
“What is playing out today is that those benefiting from these funds and the past administration are fighting, causing crisis and resisting the positive change,’’ he said.
Mr Abubakar Kurfi Mohammad, Assistant General Manager, Planning, NHIS, noted that the governing council chairman suspended the ES with approval of the minister without any form of paper evidence.
“We cannot work with words of mouth, this is a government establishment, there has to be a proof of evidence on paper showing the Minister of health’s approval for the suspension,
“The last time he was suspended, the president reinstated him because he was not found guilty of all the corruption allegations.
“He was appointed by the President and can only be sacked by the President; we have the backing of the presidency and the full support of the Nigerian citizens,’’ he said.