There is tension in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) over a recent recruitment of four new general managers and 11 other senior staff.
The issue, according to investigation, has to do with the manner the new recruitment was allegedly done, which “did not follow due process.”
Besides, 10 senior staff were reportedly transferred out of Abuja, “with southerners, as targets.”
Former executive secretary of the agency, Femi Akingbade, who handed over to Prof. Usman Yusuf, has been sent to Edo State as South-South Zonal coordinator.
In the new recruitment, 11 were picked from the North-West, with four coming from Katsina State, alongside the current Executive Secretary, three from the North-Central and one from the North-East.
Other senior staff, including former spokesman of the agency and Deputy General Manager Media and Public Relations Division, Ayo Osinlu, Laja Abereoran, deputy general manager and Kayode Bello an assistant general manager were posted out of Abuja.
Staff are asking questions about the process of recruitment of the new staff.
A staff, who is not authorised to speak with the media, told newsmen, nevertheless, that “not only were fresh recruitments made, despite being presented as secondments from other government parastatals, the vacancies were not advertised, even as the Ministry of Health was not not informed,” due to the absence of a governing board for the NHIS.
It was further gathered that following several complaints, Senate summoned the NHIS boss and Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in November 2016, “for explanation, through the Senator Lanre Tejuosho-led Committee on Health. The minister simply washed his hands off the recruitment.
“In the civil or public service, if you transfer service, your date of employment is the date from where you are coming from. But, all these 15 people have the date of their first and present date of appointment to be the one by the NHIS.
“Old staff of the scheme are also worried about the confusion being caused in order to avoid questions. Four people were appointed on Grade Level 15 but are being called Heads of Divisions, when there are general managers on the same grade level who, by our structure, are head of divisions,” another source said.
It was equally gathered that a former staff of the Economic and Financial Crimes Comission (EFCC) was employed as an Assistant General Manager on Grade Level 13.
Against this backdrop, a chapter of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) in the agency is spoiling for war. The ASCSN claims it was “left in the dark about the recruitments.”
When contacted, spokesperson of the agency, Abba Zayyan asked newsmen to call back and when this was done, hours later, he directed that one Mathews Egwaba speak on his behalf.
Egwaba, on his part, said the management of the agency would be willing to address the matter and other important issues concerning the NHIS, but did not say when or how.
“If you look at how the NHIS is currently staffed, the South East would have produced the highest number in the next generation of General Managers, then the next set would have been dominated by the South-West, all by dint of hard work. But now, this natural progression is under threat.
“There is practically no way a 33 year old would have qualified to be an Assistant Director in the main civil service or its equivalent, an Assistant General Manager in the NHIS, yet we have one brought-in at this level.
“The Executive-Secretary keeps saying he has the mandate of the president. But I don’t think any president, talk more of the current president who doesn’t condone a lack of due process will support the current abuse of an agency’s structure the way it has been done”, another source told newsmen.
When contacted spokesperson of the agency, Abba Zayyan asked to be called back and when this was done hours later, he directed that one Martins speak on his behalf.
Martins on part said the management of the agency would be willing to address the matter and other important issues concerning the NHIS, but didn’t say more than that.