The Federal Government appears to have faulted the controversial suspension of the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha on Monday declared that no governing board of a Federal agency or parastatal has the power to remove the chief executive appointed by the President.
Recall that the chairman of the NHIS board, Ifenne Enyanatu, had on 18 October, announced the indefinite suspension of Yusuf. Which the NHIS boss ignored.
Enyanatu, noting that the governing council resolved to suspend Yusuf because it had received several petitions against him, added that the board had the permission of the minister of health to suspend Yusuf, pending investigation.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while acting as President had about eight months ago approved similar suspension of the NHIS boss, however upon resumption to duty, President Muhammadu Buhari annulled the suspension.
Amid the controversies Yusuf’s recent suspension had generated, the SGF said government boards have no such powers to suspend chief executives appointed by the President.
He said the board may “however articulate infractions, investigate wrong doing and make recommendations to government through the supervisory ministry”, Mustapha further clarified.
He stated this during the 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 was the second in the series organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, in conjunction with the DFID.
Mustapha said government was concerned that most governing boards have not understood their roles in the corporate governance of the agencies they superintend.
According to him, some of them have been committing infractions by unduly interfering in the day-to-day activities of their parastatals and agencies, and 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.”
On what the roles of the boards and ministers should be, he said their duties 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,” he added.