Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 8 February 2018 | 1,227 times
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that the reinstatement of the Executive Secretary (ES) of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, will not prevent his being probed.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the recall of the ES. who had been suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on July 6, 2017, over alleged corruption allegation, with an admonition that both himself and the minister should work closely together.
But briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, the Minister of Information was asked to explain why the ES, reported to be under probe by anti-graft bodies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was reinstated.
He said he was not aware that Yusuf was being investigated by the EFCC over any allegation of fraud.
But he asserted that Yusuf’s reinstatement would not stopped any probe being carried out against him.
Mohammed said: “I am not aware that the EFCC is investigating the recently reinstated Executive Secretary of NHIS. But if that is the case, I don’t think his reinstatement is a bar to any investigation.”
When asked how come he was not aware, he replied: “I didn’t say I’m not aware of his investigation. I said EFCC. I was precise. I said I am not aware that the EFCC is investigating him and that if it is true, then the fact that he has been reinstated does not mean a stop to it.
“That is what I said. I am not saying I’m not aware that he was suspended or any investigation is going on. The fact that he has been reinstated does not mean that the EFCC will not continue with its investigation. That is what I said.”
Also speaking Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, revealed that FEC had approved the substitution of Lufthansa as a member of the consortium that will provide transaction advisory services for the establishment of National career.
“Council considered and approved that substitution with another company called AMG (Airline Management Group) with Avia Solutions GE to join the other members of the consortium to continue providing that the same cost of N341,200,” he said.
On why Lufthansa was dropped, he explained: “Fundamentally, there are two reasons. One, that particular member of consortium, Lufthansa Consulting, in the wisdom of the council, we felt that consulting is an appendage of the airline group and that might bring conflict of interests because Lufthansa themselves may want to join, partner or help in the process during the procurement phase of this transaction.
“And of course, they are members of Star Alliance, members of One World and members of Sky team. Others may feel shortchanged the person advising us set up that this airline which is going to be private sector driven, is a member of an alliance which they are not part of.
“Secondly, since we appointed the transactions advisers in various aviation projects in May 2017, about six of them. Five of them have gone ahead, the one for construction of airport, the one for aerotropolis and the one for MRO and so on and so forth.
“Most of them have produced the outline business cases and we are on our way to doing the full business case.
“However, Lufthansa Consulting, did not accept the offer neither have they signed any contract. They countered the offer instead.”
Sirika said Lufthansa also gave conditions which the government could not meet.
He added: “One of the conditions is that we should pay them 75 percent of the total cost, which is against our procurement law. They also wanted us to change the contract from Naira to Euro. They also wanted us to open an Escrow account in an internationally recognised bank outside the country where the money will be domiciles, etc.
“So, we found that that was against our procurement law and we have been going back and forth for seven months to see whether they can accept the terms of conditions and even if they had done at that time and they didn’t up till today.
“We couldn’t continue with them because it will compromise the system which we thought should be transparent.
“So, that is why we sought the approval of council to substitute them why a neutral person and someone who will accept the terms and conditions given, to accept payment in Naira, to accept 15 percent payment of the entire cost as against 75 percent, etc.”
In her statement at the briefing Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed that government has appointed of a consortium of banks including Citi Group, Standard Chartered, StanbicIBTC, Whitten-Case and African Practice to handle its $2.5b Eurobond.
Speaking on the use of the proceeds of the USD500 million, she said about N162.50 billion was used to redeem Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs) which matured in December 2017.
According to her, the immediate impact was a significant drop in the Bid Rates at the Auctions of both NTBs and FGN Bonds.
Mrs. Adeosun said In December 2017 and January 2018, NTBs dropped from about 16% to 13% while FGN Bonds dropped from about 16-16.50% to 13.50%
“This translates to savings for Government on new borrowing while also making the cost of borrowing for the real sector cheaper since the sovereign rate serves as a benchmark for other borrowers,” she said.
On the potential savings on the proposed USD2.5 billion Refinancing, Adeosun said the estimated proceeds of the N762.5 billion will be used to redeem NTBs.
“At estimated current NTB rates of 15% (following mop-up operations by
the CBN), the savings from the refinancing of N762.5 billion of Domestic Debt using external capital raising is about N64 billion per annum,” she added.
Minister of Interior, Abdurahman Dambazau, revealed that FEC had approved the purchase of 35 operational vehicles for the Nigeria Immigration Service at a cost of N483.21 million as well the cost of painting the vehicles in NIS colours for N4.09 million.
On his part, the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, said FEC had approved radio equipment to detect illegal radio signals with a view to blocking them.
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