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NHIS PRESIDENTIAL INVESTIGATIVE PANEL: STILL WAITING FOR THE REPORT, FIVE MONTHS HENCE — Maiwada Dammallam

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Nothing could be more embarrassing than the statement accredited to the Assistant Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Olusegun Adetola, in which he blamed the just concluded general elections as the reason the government is yet to make public the outcome of the Presidential Investigative Panel on the recent crisis in the National Health Insurance (NHIS).

President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 2, 2018 directed the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof Usman Yusuf to proceed on administrative leave while setting up a Presidential Panel to investigate supposed infractions labelled against him by the Chairman of NHIS Council Dr. Enyantu Ifenne who attempted to illegally suspend him indefinitely.

The Panel was composed of distinguished men and women with diverse experiences and backgrounds in the Federal Civil Service from the Offices of the SGF, Accountant General, Auditor General, Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP). Attorney General, Fed. Ministry of Health, DSS and chaired by a retired Federal Permanent Secretary.
The Panel heard from all stakeholders; Minister of Health, he Executive Secretary, NHIS Board, NHIS Management and Staff, NHIS Unions, Leaders of NLC and TUC, HMOs, Leaders of Healthcare facilities, and enrollees. They also heard from the ICPC that has been investigating corrupt practices in the NHIS since 2013.

The SGF while inaugurating this Panel, gave it seven terms of reference and a deadline of two weeks to submit its report which he promised to make public and government’s swift action on its recommendations.
It has now been five months since inauguration of the Panel and four and a half months since it submitted its report to the SGF and Nigerians have not heard anything but this recent excuse from the SGF’s office of election being responsible for the delay.
If other Ministries and Agencies continued to function during the elections, why is the report of the Investigative Panel of this important Agency sitting in the SGF’s office gathering dust?
What this delay and lame excuse do is give room for unhealthy speculations on the intentions of this government.

Lest we forget, serious allegations were made against Prof. Yusuf which this Panel set out to investigate. Justice and fair play demands that if this Panel finds him guilty, the report should be made public and he should face the full wrath of the Law but, if not, he should be exonerated on National TV as was done when he was accused. In addition, he should be immediately reinstated to continue his fight against corruption and injustice in the NHIS.

The way this matter has been handled so far, is demoralising and a big disincentive for any Nigerian willing to take the big leap of faith and risk it all to come back home to serve his country. This government should support, commend and protect any Chief Executive courageous enough to doggedly stand up against corruption and injustice.
THIS REPORT SHOULD BE RELEASED UNEDITED TO THE PUBLIC AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

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