Nigeria: Embattled NHIs Boss Apologises for 'Past Mistakes'

Photo: Premium Times
Usman Yusuf.

The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Yusuf Usman, on Thursday offered a public apology over his alleged insubordination to the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, and "past mistakes' over which he was suspended last year.

The minister set up a committee to investigate alleged misconduct by Mr. Usman, but he was later reinstated in February by President Muhammadu Buhari who has not made public the report of an investigation committee that was turned over to him.

Mr. Usman spoke in public for the first time on the saga. It was in Abuja at a media briefing organised by the newly inaugurated 11-member governing council of the NHIS.

"My suspension in the past seven months was for me as the Chief Executive Secretary of the scheme a time of sober reflection. Whatever is it I did not do right, I will correct," he said.

"My relationship with my leadership in the Ministry of Health to a very large extent I will correct and any mistake made. I make that pledge today," he added.

There has been perceived tension between Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Adewole since the NHIS boss was suspended by the minister July 2017 over allegations of gross misconduct.

The panel the minister set up after Mr. Yusuf's suspension later indicted him of infractions that ranged from nepotism to mismangement of public funds, although the report of the findings was not formally released.

President Buhari in February reinstated Mr. Yusuf, stirring a national furore and protest by some staff of the agency.

Some of the staff who protested at the premises of the agency when Mr. Yusuf reported back to his office complained of alleged highhandedness against the NHIS chief.

Mr. Yusuf, a paediatrician, also pledged to the management, staff and unions in the agency on Thursday that he will mend ways with them.

"My relationship with my management and staff will be corrected. We will sit down, we will fight and we will hug. It's all because of our passion for the people and nothing else.

"I will do all I can to change our ways and put the enrollees at the centre. We have a duty and we are changing the name of the enrollees today to lives. Enrollee just sounds like a name for inmates.

"It's a human being and I am an enrollee. I go to the hospital incognito and I see the suffering of the people, so we need to make a difference in the lives of the people.

"We have not done the right thing in the past and my pledge is that we will serve our people better this time," Mr. Usman said.

In her remark, the chairperson of the governing council, Enyantu Ifenne, described Mr. Usman's speech as 'opulent'.

"This is very opulent", she said.

Ms Ifenne, also a paediatrician, urged the staff and management of the scheme to "drop your guns and open your hearts so as to bring competence to the table.

"The organisation needs to heal. The board is here to hold it while it heals and we are not going to allow them to take too long to heal so people can rebuild their confidence in the scheme," she pledged.

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