*Agency also spends over N2m on Diesel monthly
*Consumes 8000 litres
*Spends 2.2m on toners
*Hosted support for online websites and functionalities at N49 million in March, 2020
Surprise and disbelief greeted the faces of members of the House of Representatives yesterday who became livid with the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS for spending N152,487,900 on the procurement of face/nose masks, hand sanitizers, protective wears, and hand gloves during COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
Outside this figure, the Scheme also expends at least N2, 480, 000 on diesel on monthly basis for its head office in Utako, Abuja, and office annex in Wuse 11, Abuja.
In March 2020, the agency spent the sum of N49, 200.000.00 on what it called a vital contributors program for hosting support of the online websites and functionalities.
The revelations were made at a hearing of the House Committee on Finance which had summoned some Ministries, Department and Agencies, MDAs to interface with them on remittances into the government coffers.
Essentially, the hearing was to step up this year’s revenue monitoring exercise to shore up the national income in line with the constitutional mandate and standing orders of the House.
Details of the expenditures contained in a document submitted to the Committee showed that on April 17, 2020, the Scheme was supplied with N5000 pieces of disposable face mask rated at N2,423,750.00
On April 17, 2020, there was also a supply of 500 bottles of hand sanitizer (500ml) for N2,423,750.00
On May 20, 2020, the Scheme also took the delivery of 500 packs of N95 face mask and 500 packs of the disposable face and nose masks at N37,186,825.
On May 2020, there was a supply of 1000 sets of disposables coverall protective suit and 1000 disposable latex hand gloves at N37,186,825.
Similarly, on May 20, 20020, there was a supply of 250 pieces of decontamination spray pump at N9,075,000
On June 26, 2020, the Scheme got a supply of hand sanitizer with customized logo on label for N47, 970,000.
On June 26, 2020, it took another delivery of disposable face/nose masks for N30,724,200
On June 26, 2020, there was another supply of disposable face/nose masks for N15,951,000.
On the procurement of diesel, the document also revealed that on March 3, 2020, there was a supply of 8,000 litres of diesel to head office at N2,480,000.00
There was also another supply of 8000 litres of diesel for its office at Wuse 2, Abuja at N2,400,000.00
The Scheme spent N49,200,000 on March 24, 2020, on vital contributors program for hosting support of the online websites and functionalities.
Similarly, on February 26, 2020, there was a supply of calculators and stationeries at N2,473,537.50.
Members of the Committee which included Hons. Nicholas Ossai and Soho had raised questions on the expenditures, requesting a response from the NHIS Executive Secretary, Professor Mohammed Sambo who had appeared before the Committee with his team.
In his defence, Sambo said the agency also provided more items under its social corporate responsibility for some social workers on the frontline.
He said: “On the huge expenditure to tunes of millions with respect to the COVID-19 items, we are National Health Insurance Scheme, we are supposed to be a strategic purchasing agency by mandate. During COVID-19, there was a plan of the ministry of health on sectoral response to Covid-19 and because we are dealing with healthcare facilities, we all know that at the beginning of COVID-19, most of the healthcare workers abandoned their duty post because they don’t have items for their protection. As part of our corporate social responsibility, we identified first-line organizations like police and so on.
“We gave them those items and we also recognized hospitals that have a huge enrollment of NHIS enrollees and we supplied them with these items.
“All the documents are available if the lawmakers need them. So this expenditure is not restrictive to NHIS. We have been directed to ensure the protection of our people.
“On electricity, we all know last year, there has been a lot of erratic supply of electricity. We have a big office in Utako and in Wuse. In our office in Wuse, we had to maintain a cooling system. We have a huge infrastructure that requires cooling. As we are improving our infrastructure now, we are talking about the level of electricity that is being consumed in the future. All the expenditure in respect to COVID, some of the MDAs wrote to PTF that they need these items, they wrote to us.
“In respect to the toners, NHIS has a total of 38 state offices, 9 zonal offices as well as two offices at Abuja. So, when we are buying these items, we are not buying them as one toner per purchase. We buy them within the threshold to furnish the state and zonal offices, that’s why you see that the consumption rate is high”.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary gave highlights of their revenue generation and remittances.
According to him, money generated from the addition of extra dependants enrollee in 2019 was N33.81 million; N12.88 million in 2020; N6.8 million so far generated in 2021.
On the accreditation and registration of Health Management Organizations, HMOs, Sambo said that N47.35 million was generated in 2019; N45.5 million in 2020, and N11.49 million so far in 2021.
Similarly, the agency also generated from the tenders paid by contractors N1.61 million in 2019; N620,000 in 2020, and N700,000 so far in 2021.
He said “The total revenue generation for 2019 was N32.14 million, for 2020 is N58.9 million and fr 2021 is N18.5 million.
“We have remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of N20.5 million which represent 25 per cent for the total revenue for 2019, we have remitted N14.7 million which represents 25 per cent for 2020, and for 2021, we have remitted N4.46 million and all the evidence of remittances are encapsulated in this submission”.
In his closing remarks, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Saidu Abdullahi who stood in for the Chairman, James Faleke said that the hearing was not to witch hunt any agency.
Abdullahi said that the Committee would not hesitate to activate the relevant provisions of the law should any agency of government fail to appear before the Committee.
He said: “We have just started the revenue monitoring session for the year 2021. The objective is to ensure that we shore up the revenge generation of the country. As I stated that the country has the capacity to fund the budget size of 13 to 15 trillion. All we need to do is to work together with the executive particularly the MDAs to ensure that we block all areas of leakages and ensure there are responsible for the consolidated revenue fund. We have just started and we expected to have taken more agencies today but unfortunately, just the NHIS turned up.
“This exercise is not a child’s play. We are not here to make noise or impress anybody by showing our faces on camera. We are taking it very seriously. It is in the spirit of measuring the performances of the agencies, in the spirit of ensuring that we mobilize more resources so that the executive would be able to fund the capital without necessarily looking at the angle of borrowing which has become the easiest way out of managing our budget.
“So, we expected to have Petroleum Equalization Fund, PTDF, Nigeria Oil Spillage, and Detection Response Agency, and even the Export Processing Council. But only NHIS turned up. We would not take it lightly with any agency. It is not child’s play. We are here to make this country work and for us to it, we have to work in collaboration, we have to work collectively for the good of our people.
“So, we give a second chance to the agencies. We would write again to them and if peradventure they decide not to turn up, we will have no other option than to refer back to the provisions of the constitution and do what is necessary for this country.”
The chairman also asked the agency to finish it with other relevant documents.
“This not going to be the end of our engagement with you. We will go back to study some of these documents, Of course, there are certain requirements that we will write you to particularly, we need your budget for the year 2021 from there we will be able to deduce whether or not your personnel is paid from the Federation Account or through what you mentioned earlier.
“You need to furnish us with details of HMOs that you have registered,
“Then also you need to tell us the rates you charge in terms of tender fees and of course we expect that you do open bidding. We need to know the number of companies that actually bidding for each of the projects from there we will be able to tell the expected revenue from that source.
“The Clerk will put a letter across to you, notifying you of these requirements and the next day that we will be meeting with you”, Abdullahi said.