The National Health Insurance Scheme NHIS, which many Nigerians see as one of the best things to happen to the country, is said to have been plagued by a monumental fraud and observers are insisting that the Federal Government must swing into action to rescue the government agency from a looming disaster.
Accusing fingers of maladministration are being pointed at the Acting Executive Secretary/CEO of the agency, Femi Akingbade, who was reported to have thrown decorum into the wind and manage the agency without recourse to an established act.
It was exclusively gathered that Akingbade and his predecessor, Dr. Thomas were invited by the Department of State Security (DSS) some months back over issues bothering on misappropriation.
There was a case of the approval of two billion naira (N2 Billion) capitation fund that was approved and shared to the HMOs, while the management was alleged to have received kickbacks in several millions of naira from them.
The trade union in the organisation was reported to have raised alarm at the rate and manner in which the Ag. Executive Secretary was running the agency; misappropriating funds that were meant to be injected to other vital programmes of the scheme. It was also alleged that Akingbade was using some of the HMOs as conduit to finance his retention and confirmation as the substantive Executive Secretary/CEO of NHIS.
It was stated on the website of the agency that a capitation for October to December 2015 has been paid to the HMOs on behalf of the enrolled; meanwhile the source queried the process followed and asked why his predecessor did not approve the disbursement to the HMOs.
Another case of mismanagement was the violation of Federal Government’s directive on overseas trainings that was blatantly disregarded as several workers were sent on overseas training during his short tenure, a tactic move to silence some of the union leaders, who were bent on opening his can of worms.
A worrisome aspect, according to a source, was that some management staff actually collected money for trainings without actually attending such trainings or make refund to the scheme’s purse. A particular Assistant General Manager was said to be a beneficiary of the fraud.
We however gathered that the ES is already at loggerheads with the union over the recruitment of staff for the agency without due process.
A senior staff of the agency confirmed that about 160 letters of employment have been issued, while the union has insisted that they would fight against this because the ES and his cohorts did not follow laid down public service regulations and due process. The resultant litigation by the staff union, under the auspices of the TUC, has prevented the appointees from resuming at their duties post.
Another inside source who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said ‘we don’t know the future of those appointees as at now other than a promise that if Akingbade is confirmed as substantial Executive Secretary, he would railroad the incoming council to rubber stamp their absorption into the service as it is their “normal practice.”
All attempts to speak with the CEO proved abortive as he was said to have travelled abroad.
But the spokesperson of NHIS, Mr. Ayo Osinlu said in a telephone chat that the allegations were not true and that the fraud scandal storyr was a product of some elements, who wanted to give the Acting Executive Secretary of the scheme a bad name so that his appointment would not be confirmed by the Federal Government.
The Scheme, established under Act 35 of 1999 by the Federal Government of Nigeria, is aimed at providing easy access to healthcare for all Nigerians at an affordable cost through various prepayment systems. NHIS is totally committed to securing universal coverage and access to adequate and affordable healthcare in order to improve the health status of Nigerians, especially for those participating in the various programmes/products of the Scheme.
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