The House of Representatives’ committee on health on Wednesday summoned the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; to explain why they classified the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a revenue generating institution which should pay ‘operating surplus’ to the federation account.
Also summoned are the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
The decision followed the submission of the reinstated Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, who appeared before it to give an update on the status of the re-accreditation exercise for Health Management Organisations (HMOs) which had been suspended at the instance of the committee to allow for audit of their activities.
The committee demanded clarification on a recent report that the executive secretary had been indicted in a fresh N10 billion fraud at the agency, an allegation which the executive secretary dismissed and described as malicious and untrue.
The official who was suspended months ago by the minister of health on allegations of fraud and official impropriety was recently reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari despite public consternation.
Prof. Yusuf, at the hearing, said funds under the NHIS is a trust which must be taken seriously.
He explained that the N10 billion was deducted from its TSA (Treasury Single Account) account with the CBN by the Ministry of Finance, which had informed him via a letter that the NHIS ought to be a revenue generating agency and by implication, ought to pay its operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
He however said he had since protested the inclusion of the scheme among revenue earners as this is not captured in the Act establishing NHIS.
On the re-accreditation of the 57 HMOs whose licences expired last year, Prof. Yusuf said preliminary report on their evaluation had been submitted and is being considered.
He said one of the conditions they must meet is the provision of a certificate of non-indebtedness from the hospitals they served.
He added that he had almost become a ‘debt collector’ as a result of the failings of the HMOs. He warned the HMOs to either sit up or be dragged to the EFCC.
“I am tired of being a debt collector,” Prof. Yusuf said.