The headline on THE NATION shocks its readers this morning, by revealing that a sum of N720b Cash is missing. NHIS audit uncovers how funds were stolen through curious investments asking where is the N720 billion “invested” by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 12 years? Nobody seems to have an answer. Not even NHIS boss Prof. Usman Yusuf, The Nation has learnt. He said the “investments” had no approvals of successive Ministers of Health, past boards of the NHIS and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF). He said billions were lost to diversion and underpayment of interest. Banks, former Executive Secretaries, select management staff and interest groups were all neck-deep in the scandal, Yusuf alleged.
According to the NHIS Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, there is no trace yet of the N720billion. Yusuf opened the lid on the corrupt practices in NHIS in a power-point presentation to the agency’s Governing Council in response to a query by the board. He said when he discovered the scandal, he engaged forensic accountants to get to the root of the matter. The Nation had exclusively reported that a team raised by the Federal Government discovered that over N138billion of the NHIS cash was trapped in 17 banks, financial companies and individuals’ pockets from January 2011 to date.
Moving from missing funds to the 2019 elections, President Muhammadu Buhari has informed the N’Assembly that the 2019 polls will cost N242bn. According to THE PUNCH, THE GUARDIAN, NIGERIAN TRIBUNE and DAILY SUN, Buhari has presented a supplementary budget to the National Assembly in which he sought the approval of N164bn out of the N242bn budgeted for the 2019 general elections. Buhari said the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies would need N242bn for the elections, asking the legislature to provide N164bn through virement in the 2018 budget or supplementation, while the balance of N78bn would be covered by the 2019 budget. Buhari, in his letter to the National Assembly, titled, ‘Request for virement and supplementary 2018 budget,’ specifically asked the legislature to re-allocate part of the N578bn voted to the projects inserted into the 2018 Appropriation Act by the lawmakers to fund the elections and critical infrastructure.
The President specifically asked the legislature not to increase the current size of the 2018 Appropriation Act from N9.21tn but to vire N228bn from the N578bn to the elections as well as the critical projects as earlier proposed by the executive in the 2018 Appropriation Bill. President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, read the proposal at the plenary on Tuesday. INEC to spend N189.2bn; NSAO, N4.2bn; DSS, N12bn; NSDC, N3.5bn; Police, N30.5bn; NIS; 2bn
Giving the breakdown of the running costs for the polls, Buhari said INEC needed N143, 512, 529, 445 for 2018 supplementary and N45, 695, 015,438 in 2019 budget, totalling N189, 207, 544, 893. He said the Office of the National Security Adviser needed N3,855,500,000 for 2018 supplementary and N426,000,000 in 2019 budget, amounting to N4,281,500,000. The Department of State Services wants N2,903,638,000 as 2018 supplementary and N9,309,644,455 in 2019 budget, totalling N12,213,282,455. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps requires N1,845,597,000 as 2018 supplementary and N1,727,997,500 in the 2019 budget, totalling N3,573,534,500. Also, the Nigeria Police needs N11,457,417,432 as 2018 supplementary and N19,083,900,000 in 2019 budget, to get a total of N30,541,317,432. The Nigeria Immigration Service also needs N2,628,143,320, out of which N530, 110,078 would come from 2018 supplementary and N2, 098,033,142 from the 2019 budget.
Still on the 2019 elections, DAILY INDEPENDENT reveals the President words assuring ICC of a free and fair, election. Buhari has assured the International Criminal Court (ICC) of free, fair and credible elections in 2019. He noted that efforts were being geared towards averting violence that characterized the 2011 elections which necessitated investigations by the ICC.
“Let me intimate the ICC that Nigeria is preparing to conduct general elections in 2019. Contrary to the tragic incidents that characterized the 2011 general elections in Nigeria which necessitated preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court, I assure you that all hands are on deck to prevent any recurrence of such tragic incidents. We shall do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria witnesses the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019,”Buhari stated on Tuesday, at the Solemn Hearing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the ICC, at The Hague.
Saraki, Legislators Perfect Moves To Dump APC heads NEW TELEGRAPH. Barring any last minute changes to the plans, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki may dump the All Progressives Congress (APC) before the end of the week. New Telegraph investigations indicate that some members of the splinter Reformed APC (R-APC) will be dumping the APC next week as the National Assembly embarks on a long vacation preparatory to the parties’ primaries for various elective offices.
“Just watch out before we leave for the annual recess next week, many of our members (R-APC) will denounce their membership of the APC. We are going to join a party that will guarantee us return ticket for 2019,” a source told our correspondent. The Special Adviser to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on Special Duties, Hon. Usman Bawa, had, on Monday, resigned his membership of the APC.
Finally VANGUARD reveals NAF’s reason for stopping South, M-Belt leaders’ trip to Benue. The Nigerian Air Force, yesterday, explained the circumstances that surrounded its denying landing permit in Makurdi for the aircraft that was to have conveyed Southern leaders to the Middle Belt Forum conference on restructuring on Monday, saying it received information that the plane initially hired for the flight had some ‘snags’. In a statement signed by Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, however, insisted yesterday that the air field in Makurdi was not for civil aircraft operations but military aircraft, stressing that the ongoing ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ meant to checkmate the activities of killer herdsmen and militia in Benue, Taraba states and other places was largely being coordinated from NAF Base in Makurdi, with fighter aircraft flying in and out of the Base. NAF’s explanation, however, drew strong reactions from Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed; Igbo leader, Chief Guy Ikokwu, and Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, who expressed dismay over it. But elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, agreed with NAF’s explanation of the incident.