By Olugbenga Salami
Senate, on Wednesday, directed its joint Committees on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases, and Health to wade into the emerging crisis of confidence and corruption in the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA.
Specifically, the upper legislative chamber asked the committees to carry out thorough investigation into the matter and other infractions, and inform the Senate of the findings within two weeks.
The Senate resolution was sequel to a motion on the growing crises in the two agencies, sponsored bye Senator Mao A. Ohuabunwa, PDP-Abia North during plenary.
Presenting the motion, Senator Ohuabunwa informed that “major crises have been brewing at the NHIS over allegations of high-handedness, budget distortion, fraudulent cost manipulation, illegal investments and unprofessional manipulation of the human resources of the agency”.
He added that all these issues have pitched the management of NHIS against its employees and the governing board, noting that this had been jeopardizing the interests of the general public.
The lawmaker lamented that same situation is also applicable in the NPHCDA where the Executive Director has been accused of high-handedness, reckless spending in the purchase of unwanted vehicles, intimidation and unwarranted transfer of senior staff members without regards to due process.
According to him, Senate was “conscious of the fact that these unguarded executive and administrative processes pervading our public agencies, if not verified, checked and redirected for good, the important roles of our public agencies in advancing the economic, social and general well-being of our citizens will be seriously impaired”.
Senator Ohuabunwa added that the nation’s “nascent democracy will gradually lose its steam to emerging impunity of government appointed self-serving titans now looming large” if urgent action is not taken.
He, however, reminded that it’s part of the constitutional role of the senate “to periodically embark on oversight functions of the ministries and agencies of the federal government for the purpose of enthroning good governance, probity, reducing high-handedness of operators, eliminating corruption and improving overall efficiency”.
“Many of our public agencies today, have moved away from direct focus on serving the citizens, advancing economic and social development – to furthering impunity that border on personality cults, and these certainly run counter to the objectives of the federal government”, he stressed.
In his remarks, the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki commended Senator Ohunabuwa for the motion and charged the two committees to do thorough job on the crises so as save the nation’s health sector from jeopardy.