.Armed police officers take over NHIS premises in Abuja
.Protesters vow not to resume work until reinstatement is reversed
Tensions has risen further at the headquarters of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Abuja as two rival group of workers clashed on Monday over the reinstatement of the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Yusuf Usman.
The protesters under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), led by its Branch Chairman, Mr. Razak Omomeji, while condemning the development vowed not to resume in their offices until President Muhammadu Buhari revisits the allegations preferred against Yusuf and reverse his reinstatement.
The workers while venting their anger collaborated the fact that Yusuf has a case to answer before Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The protesters also called on the Head of Service of the Federation to apply the civil service rules, which stipulates that a civil servant cannot remain in the office when he/she has a case to answer before any anti-graft agency.
Omomeji, who vowed that the members staff would continue the protest until Usman was removed, said: “Yusuf has bastardised the scheme and his return would only worsen affairs at the agency”.
He also alleged that most members of the pro-Yusuf group were NHIS workers employed and given undue promotion under the watch of the reinstated Executive Secretary.
According to him, Yusuf had penciled down, for victimisation, the names of members of staff who testified against him at the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He said: “Prof. Yusuf has concluded arrangements to transfer some of our colleagues who testified against him at the EFCC and ICPC to enable him reign freely as well as distort facts and cover-up his mess.
“A few of our members who are staging a counter-protest to rally support for him are mainly those he employed and gave undue promotion in the NHIS. How can a lady born in 1984 be promoted to grade level 15 while some members of staff who graduated in 1984 are still in grade level 16? This is the kind of impunity, ethnocentricism and nepotism as supervised by Yusuf, we are kicking against as public servants”.
Meanwhile, as the workers were chanting anti-government songs, the rival group of workers under the aegis of Unity Group and Concerned NHIS Staff arrived the premises of the building wielding placards with various inscriptions in support of the embattled Executive Secretary.
Addressing journalists, the leader of the group, Dr. Uchenna Ewelike, said that Yusuf’s appointment was to sanitise the decayed and inefficient system in the organisation. He noted that the protesting members of the union are beneficiaries of the rot in the system and resistant to change.
Ewelike said, “We all know that Prof. Yusuf 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 all necessary support he may require to achieve this mandate for the benefit of all.”
In the meantime, about 50 armed policemen were on Monday deployed to the NHIS office in Abuja to avert a possible clash by the two group of protesting workers.
Men of the Nigeria Police Force and Civil Defence Corps officers were stationed at strategic locations in the building while members of staff were subjected to security checks.
The Daily Times recalls that Yusuf was last week reinstated by President Buhari, a development which was widely criticised.
Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, in June 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct and about N919million fraud.
Yusuf was found culpable of infractions that ranged from nepotism to theft of public funds by a panel put in place by the minister.
Also, no ewer than three Senior Advocates of Nigeria have criticised President Buhari for reinstating Yusuf.
They stated that Nigerians deserved an explanation from the Federal Government for reinstating the NHIS boss.