Usman Yusuf, suspended executive secretary of the National health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), went comical on Monday when asked to comment on the ongoing crisis in the agency.
In what seemed to be a mockery of Patience Jonathan, former first lady, Yusuf sent a three-worded response: “There’s God o”, to inquiries by TheCable.
Jonathan’s wife caught headlines in April 2014 when she used those exact words in reaction to the refusal of some persons to honour the panel she set up to investigate the abduction of Chibok schoolgirls.
After his phone rang out on Monday, TheCable had sent a text message to him to explain his role in the harassment of workers and allegations levelled against him.
At 7:30pm, Yusuf’s terse response was received.
The executive secretary was suspended by the NHIS governing board last week, but he had argued that his suspension was illegal and that he would resume office nonetheless.
He had said only President Muhammadu Buhari had the powers to suspend him.
On Monday, policemen numbering over 30 arrived at the NHIS office in the Utako area of Abuja, amid a lockdown by workers who attempted to prevent him from entering the premises.
After firing teargas at the protesting workers, the entrance gate which was locked was thrown open with the policemen aiding Yusuf’s entry into his office.
Previous efforts made by TheCable to get Yusuf’s reaction to the crisis, particularly the allegations of corruption which the board levelled against him as well as his suspension, were unsuccessful.
Enantu Ifenna, chairman of the NHIS governing board, had, while announcing Yusuf’s suspension at a press conference on Thursday, accused him of financial infractions.
She had alleged the executive secretary had refused to carry out the board’s decisions on critical issues and “institutionalised” corruption at the agency.
She also accused the ES of allegedly inflating the scheme’s 2018 budget, “fraudulently inflating the cost of biometric capturing machines”, and “attempt to illegally execute N30 billion in federal government bonds”.
The board also alleged that Yusuf carried out unauthorised staff travel “in defiance to council directive”, “superfluous arrogation of project vehicles” and added he has been insubordinate.
Yusuf had said he was innocent of the allegations when Isaac Adewole, minister of health, first suspended him last year.