ABUJA —No fewer than 50 policemen, yesterday, took over Office of National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, in Abuja, following staff protests over the reinstatement of the Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf.
Yusuf was reinstated by the Federal Government last Tuesday, after a seven-month suspension by Minister of Health, Prof. Issac Adewole, over allegations of gross misconduct.
The policemen were mobilised to NHIS to avert possible breakdown of law and order as two groups of pro and anti-Yusuf protesters stormed the headquarters of the agency to either express their support for or resist Yusuf’s return as Executive Secretary.
The anti-Yusuf protesters, under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, MHWUN, were led by the branch Chairman of ASCSN, Mr. Abdulrazaq Omomeji, said they were asking the reinstated Executive Secretary to give way for investigations into the allegations against him to be concluded
The other group, on the platform of Concerned NHIS Staff, led by Mr. Uchenna Enwelike, expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for reinstating Yusuf and urged Nigerians to support him in the provision of a focused and result-oriented leadership to the scheme.
Enwelike, who addressed the pro-Yusuf group, said: “We all know that Professor Usman has already brought to bear his expertise and wealth of experience acquired over the years, home and abroad, to address the lingering problems of the scheme.
“We must all, therefore, give him the necessary support he may require to achieve this mandate for the benefit of all.
“The task of putting NHIS in the front burner of the Nigerian health system is enormous and realisation of its mandate critical in attainment of Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goal.
“The national unions of MHWUN and ASCSN should call the different factions of their local chapters in NHIS to order. They should be advised to re-channel their energy in helping the enrollees who are either poorly treated or denied access on regular basis.”
However, Omomeji contended that most members of the pro-Yusuf group were NHIS staff employed and given undue promotion under the watch of the reinstated Executive Secretary.
He also alleged that Yusuf had penciled down, for victimization, the names of staff members who testified against him at Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and Independent and Corruption Practices Commission, ICPC.
Omomeji urged EFCC to continue its investigation on the finances of the scheme for the benefit of enrollees and to strengthen healthcare delivery in the country but challenged the ICPC to shun its hypocrisy over Yusuf’s case and publish its reports on the matter.