The reinstated Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, on Monday in Abuja resumed duties amidst peaceful protests by supporters and non-supporters.
A pocket of non-supporters early in the morning embarked on a protest against Yusuf, but workers on the platform of their union staged a peaceful protest in support of Yusuf,
necessitating the invitation of the police to maintain the peace
The workers’ peaceful protest at the headquarters of NHIS in support of Yusuf was planned by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN).
Dr Uchenna Ewelike, a concerned NHIS staff, confirmed they embarked on the protest to welcome back Yusuf as the substantive executive secretary of NHIS.
Ewelike expressed appreciation to the government for reinstating Yusuf after confirming his innocence on all unsubstantiated allegations levelled against him.
He also urged Nigerians to support the reinstated chief executive officer to enable him provide a focused and result oriented leadership in the scheme.
“We all know that Prof. Usman has already brought to bear his expertise and wealth of experience acquired over the years, home and abroad, to address the lingering problems of the scheme.
“We must all therefore give him the necessary support he may require to achieve this mandate for the benefit of all.
“The task of putting NHIS in the front burner of the Nigerian Health System is enormous and realisation of its mandate is critical in attainment of Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goal,’’ he said.
He urged NHIS staff to discharge their normal duties without fear of intimidation and harassment by a faction of staff union.
Ewelike called on all security agencies to act within the law and deal with anybody or group of persons with intention of breaking the law disrupting the peace within the work environment.
“As public servants we are guided by ethics of the profession and should not allow ourselves to be used by corrupt stakeholders who are not comfortable with reforms going on in the scheme.
“The national unions of MHWUN and ASCSN should call the different factions of their local chapters in NHIS to order.
“They should be advised to re-channel their energy in helping the enrollees who are either poorly treated or denied access on regular basis,’’ Ewelike said.
Mr Mohammad Gajo, another concerned NHIS senior staff, also lamented on the achievement poorly recorded in the scheme over 13 years of its official launch.
“It is saddening that in the past 13 years of the official launch of NHIS formal sector programme, we are still battling with single digit coverage.
“Today, healthcare providers are not paid promptly by the Health Management Organisations (HMOs), enrollees are dissatisfied due to poor quality of service.
“We are having low coverage of our population in the country when compared with countries at par with Nigeria,’’ he said.
“In this regard Usman was appointed by the President to sanitise the system, this he has commenced in earnest and we must support him in this laudable objective,’’ Gajo said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on Feb. 8, some members of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) protested against the reinstatement of Yusuf as the substantive executive secretary of NHIS.
Mr Abdulrazak Omomaji, Chairman of ASCSN, demanded for a reversal of the reinstatement because Yusuf was under investigation by the EFCC and should not be allowed to hold any public office.
He pledged the support of the union to cooperate with EFCC to unravel alleged financial misdeeds rocking the scheme.
Omomaji urged EFCC to continue its investigation on the finances of the scheme for the benefit of enrollees and to strengthen healthcare delivery in the country.
NAN reports that there is normalcy in the premises of the agency while security agents were seen keeping vigil. (NAN)