By Christiana Ekpa
The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme NHIS, Prof. Nasiru Sambo yesterday admitted and apologized before the Public Accounts Committee of the House Representatives that there was no audited accounts in the agency for the past six years due to the frequent change of its Chief Executive Officers.
Prof Sambo made the revelation in Abuja at the resumed Public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Committee Chaired by Rep. Oluwole Oke titled:”Refusal of Non-Treasury Funded and Partially Funded Agencies to Render their Audited Accounts covering the period 2014-2018 to the Auditor-General of the Federation
Sambo who was grilled alongside the General Manager, Finance and Administration of the Agency John Okon further told the lawmakers that immediate past Executive Secretary of the Agency even refused to sign the available one of the 2014 on the pretext that he was not in the Office when the expenditures were incurred.
The NHIS boss who apologised for the infractions however disclosed that efforts were on top gear for a comprehensive auditing of the financial accounts of the Agency being one of the mandate given to him by the Federal Government when he was appointed about seven months ago.
While corroborating the submission of the Executive Secretary, Mr Okon who was the Head of the Audit during the period under review before him elevation said that concerted efforts were made to get the accounts but to avail.
He also stated that the absence of the Covering Board of the Agency who could have approved the audited accounts of the Agency under the period under review contributed to its inability to have approved audited accounts.
Responding , the Chairman of the Committee and some others such as Hon.Teeser Gbillla (Benue,APC) and Hon. Bulus Maren (Plateau, PDP) faulted the response from the agency saying that it was contrary to extant public sector financial regulations.
Consequently the Committee ordered a comprehensive status enquiry into the activities of the agency with a view to ascertaining how their health insurance coverage had been carried out in the last six years.
Rep Oke wondered how such an all important Agency of the Federal Government would have operated within the period under review with billions of Naira budgeted for it without any audit check for once
Oke who also accused the heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDAs who refused to appear before the Committee of sabotaging governance of the country warned the heads of the MDAs to stop hiding under the guise of absence of governing Boards that would approve their audited Accounts as reasons for not coming before the parliament with the documents as the long arm law would catch up with such people.
In a related development, the Committee also stepped down the submission presented before it by the management of the Lagos International Trade Fair led by Mrs Lucy Ajayi, saying that the audited account was fraudulent, cooked up which would not stand the text of time
The Committee therefore ordered the Agency to appear before it this Friday along with the external Auditor who audited the accounts who must come along with his professional practicing licence and proof of his professional qualifications based on various infractions discovered in the documents.
Also, the Committee sent back the financial Director of the Development Bank and insisted that its Chief Executive officer should appear before it in person as he has many explanations for the Parliament on the operations of the two years old Agency.
Other Agencies which also appeared before the Committee are the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, National Information and Technological Development Agency, NITDA, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND amongst others.