Last week’s reinstatement of the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, has generated a lot of controversy. It would be recalled that Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, in June 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct, nepotism, and theft of public funds to the tune of N919 million naira.

Labour, Civil Society Organizations and Opposition parties, have condemned the President’s action, citing it as another example of the President’s penchant for nepotism, favouritism and clannishness, and a dent on the government’s anti-corruption war. Supporters of Yusuf and apologists of the government have on the other hand, claimed that most of the allegations against him are unsubstantiated, full of alterations, mix up in dates, and based on bias.

It is curious to note that Buhari ordered the reinstatement of Yusuf while none of the other 8 senior officers suspended along with him were recalled. Could this be because none of them is Hausa/Fulani? It is instructive to also note that one of the reasons why Yusuf was indicted by an administrative panel set up by the Minister was because of nepotism in appointments into the NHIS. Yusuf allegedly recruited his kinsmen who were on grade level 10 in the State Public Service and imposed them on the staff of the NHIS by placing them on grade level 15 and above. Was his reinstatement a reward for recruiting kinsmen of the President into the NHIS and giving them appointments which they were unqualified for? Yusuf’s arrogant statement that he could not report to the Minister since he was appointed by the President and not the Minister drips of nepotism. Would that statement have been uttered if the tables were reversed- A Southern Executive Secretary and a Northern Minister?

The consequences of Mr President’s action are too numerous to mention. Reinstating Professor Yusuf without recourse to the Minister who suspended him renders the Minister impotent and promotes insubordination both in the Health Ministry and in other Ministries headed by Southerners that have parastatals headed by the President’s kinsmen. Investigations by the EFCC and other investigative bodies would be jeopardized as evidences would be tampered with, and potential witnesses will be threatened, sacked, redeployed or killed. Another fallout from this saga is that the NHIS boss is now independent of the control of the Minister and would be reporting directly to the President. The Minister would also be reluctant to act on issues involving NHIS and would rather stay aloof. More so, Yusuf would have no genuine respect for his boss Adewole.

I am not surprised that Mallam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President, has been fingered as the brains behind this ignoble act. He is the head of the Presidential Cabal- according to Aisha Buhari, wife of the President- responsible for promoting tribal hegemony in the Buhari administration. I would not be surprised if Dr. Munir Gwazo, the suspended Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who was suspended due to corruption allegations against him, is reinstated once he finds favour with Mallam Abba Kyari.

In other climes, Professor Adewole would have resigned his appointment but not so in Nigeria. Abroad, when people leave government, they go into high paying jobs in the private sector. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case because the public sector pays more than the private sector. I doubt if he would be able to resist the pressure from family, friends and well wishers not to throw in the towel, because of the “benefits” that they derive from his occupation of such high office.




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