The House of Representatives on Wednesday summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and her Health counterpart, Prof. Isaac Adewole, over the deduction of N10bn from the Treasury Single Account of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Also summoned were the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Minister of National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma; the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris; and the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze.
The money was taken in two tranches of N5bn in December 2016 and N5bn in January, 2018.
The deductions, which became a public issue just as the reinstated Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, resumed duty, had generated a fresh controversy at the agency.
It had initially been tagged as “missing,” prompting the House Committee on Healthcare Services to invite Yusuf on Wednesday to explain what happened to the N10bn.
The committee is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Imo State, Mr. Chike Okafor.
President Muhammadu Buhari had abruptly recalled Yusuf from a seven-month suspension for alleged corrupt acts at the NHIS.
Speaking before the committee, Yusuf stated that it was inappropriate to have described the N10bn as ‘missing.’
Rather, he said the money was deducted from the NHIS account by the finance ministry and the AGF as operating surplus recorded against the NHIS.
The ES said there was the erroneous classification of the NHIS as a revenue-generating agency that was required to remit operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
He recalled that as of December 2016, the Ministry of Finance was already asking the agency to remit N8.8bn as operating surplus from 2012 to 2015.
“I went to the minister (finance) to explain that we are not a revenue-generating agency and that we didn’t breach any Act, neither were we expected to remit operating surpluses.
“The money we keep is contributed by Nigerians and the government for their health services, as different from revenue,” he told the committee.
But, Yusuf stated that despite the explanations, the N10bn was deducted.
However, Okafor and other lawmakers insisted on hearing from Adeosun, Adewole, Udo-Udoma, Emefiele, Idris and Akabueze before deciding on the next line of action to take.
The motion was immediately endorsed by the session to summon the aforementioned officials of government.
Meanwhile, Okafor asked the ES to share his suspension experience with the committee and his current relationship with Adewole.
Responding, Yusuf disclosed that he used the seven months to review some of the decisions he took while he was in the office.
Referring specifically to his relationship with Adewole, he added, “I have never had any personal issues with my supervising minister. He knows and I know that this is not personal.
“He is my senior in the medical profession and he is very qualified to be the minister. I have complete respect for him.
“The first office I visited on my resumption after the suspension was his office.”