NHIS Controversy: Boards have no power to suspend CEOs of parastatals – SGF

No governing board of a Federal agency or parastatal has the power to remove the chief executive appointed by the President, the secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha declared today.

The declaration came amidst controversy over the suspension of the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS).

The board may “however articulate infractions, investigate wrong doing and make recommendations to government through the supervisory ministry”, Mustapha further clarified.

He made the clarification at an induction programme for governing board members of federal parastatals, universities and medical centres at the Transcorp Hilton. The CEOs were also in attendance.

The induction, the second in the series, was organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, in conjunction with the DFID.

On 18 October, the chairman of the NHIS board, Ifenne Enyanatu announced the indefinite suspension of the executive secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf, eight months after a similar suspension by the minister was annulled by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Enyanatu said the governing council resolved to suspend Yusuf because it had received several petitions against the NHIS boss. She said the board had the permission of the minister of health to suspend Yusuf, pending investigation.

“We consulted and got the approval of the Minister of Health before this suspension, ” she said.

However, Yusuf ignored the order.

Mustapha certainly had the NHIS in mind when he gave the clear-cut clarification today.

He said government was concerned that most governing boards have not understood their roles in the corporate governance of the agencies they superintend.

He then went on to list some of the recurring infractions being committed by the boards.

Some of them are undue interference by board chairmen in the day-to-day activities of their parastatals and agencies, blatant disregard for extant regulations guiding the conduct of board meetings.

Others are alleged interference in the function of the CEOs, issuing directives to staff, without recourse to the CEOs, imposing disciplinary measures against the CEOs, in flagrant violation of the laid down rules and using labour unions as agents of distractions in the agencies.

The government secretary also gave further clarifications about the roles of the boards and ministers.

The role of the boards, he said, are limited to setting operational and administrative policies for their agencies in consonance with government policy directives.

“A Board shall not be involved directly in the day-to-day management of a parastatal or an agency. A Minister exercises control of parastatals at policy level through the board of the parastatal only.

“The board must only operate as a part time board, in accordance with extant rules that forbids allocation of official quarters to members on a permanent basis and payment of estacode allowances for only overseas travels approved by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and their part-time Ministry.”

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