The Peoples Democratic Party alleged in Abuja on Thursday, that the All Progressives Congress and cabal in the presidency had turned “the National Health Insurance Scheme into their Automated Teller Machine where funds are taken at their conveniences.”
The party said the nation had yet to recover from past revelations of an alleged withdrawal of N10bn when an alleged fresh plot by the Federal Government to loot another N25bn from the coffers of the scheme was exposed.
It said that Nigerians were still lamenting the N10bn stolen earlier from the agency’s savings in the Treasury Single Account by the cabal in the presidency.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that the APC and the Presidency had been bleeding the nation, adding that the very idea of stealing funds meant to provide health lifeline to the already impoverished Nigerians was agonising and showed that the ruling party had lost all scruples.
He said, “Our nation is now faced with daily pillaging of our national patrimony by the APC interests and a notorious cabal, who operating under the cover and protection of the Buhari Presidency, have turned our revenue agencies, particularly the NHIS into cash cows to painfully milk funds for the APC’s ill-fated 2019 re-election bid.
“When we say that this Buhari administration is debauched, many do not realise to what extent. This administration is so brazen in stealing in the NHIS that the Presidency has to recall and reinstate the indicted Executive Secretary of the Scheme, Prof. Usman Yakubu, while he was still being quizzed by the EFCC for alleged corruption.
“Betraying its complicity in the NHIS racket, the Presidency has refused to speak out on allegations that it reinstated the suspended Executive Secretary to conceal the earlier looting and protect members of the cabal and has also refused to order any form of investigation into the exposed frauds.
“The magnitude of direct looting that is going on in revenue agencies, such as the NNPC, the Nigerian Ports Authority, Customs, Federal Inland Revenue Services, MDAs and even the TSA already infiltrated by the Presidency cabal and the APC interests, who hide under spurious investment portfolios, inflated concessions, allocations, jobs and other financial sleazes to siphon public funds are better imagined.”
Ologbondiyan said that in the last three years, the nation had witnessed unparalled impunity to the extent that the President could even unilaterally make approval of releases of public funds without recourse to the legislative instrument of appropriation.
But the board of the NHIS said it had begun a forensic audit of the accounts of the scheme including the alleged N10bn said to have been removed from the agency’s account which had become a subject of legislative probe.
A member of the governing council, Senator Bassey Otu, said this during a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.
Otu was responding to a question on whether N10bn was really missing from the NHIS account and if the board would investigate the matter among other allegations of misappropriation of funds.
The board was also asked to reveal how much was really missing from the NHIS’ coffers and if anyone would be punished for any act of malfeasance.
He said, “Forensic audit has been done and we have looked at all the issues. Definitely people will be called to answer questions, those that have to face some more uniformed people will have to do it and those who have to explain to Nigerians why things went that way will also have to do it.”
The board member further stated that the funds in the NHIS accounts did not belong to the government but the people.
He added that ideally, the NHIS should not be part of the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government since the money did not belong to the government but the enrollees.
Otu said, “The NHIS is an insurance company. The funds should not be in the TSA in the first place. There have been a lot of issues talking about some amounts of money.
“The money is not enough because the government isn’t paying its full contributions and if you are talking about Universal Health Coverage which other countries are taking very seriously, then we cannot be playing with these matters.”
The NHIS had earlier clarified that no N10bn was missing but the money was transferred to the Consolidated Revenue Account and not the TSA thereby causing confusion at the Ministry of Finance.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the NHIS council, Dr. Enyatu Ifeney, said all the 57 Health Management Organisations seeking re-accreditation failed to meet the standard requirements set by the scheme.