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Union seeks audit of NHIS, faults severance package for outgoing leaders


MEMBERS of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) at the weekend commended President Goodluck Jonathan for removing the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr. Femi Thomas.

ASCSN also used the opportunity to urge the federal government to go a step further by auditing the finances of the NHIS.

Meanwhile, ASCSN in a statement signed by its National President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Secretary-General, Alade Bashir Lawal has advised President Jonathan to reverse alleged severance benefits of about N3.24 billion for Political Office Holders.

The union expressed worry that in spite of public outcry against “financial recklessness” and alleged sharp practices, “the Presidency still proceeded to approve the humongous sum of N3.24 billion as terminal benefits for Political Office Holders whose tenure will expire on May 29 including Legislators who were re-elected”.

The union said: “This is a sacrilege and unacceptable in an economy where Civil Servants who serve the country for 35years or attain the age of 60 years are not paid any gratuity after Service. We demand that all stakeholders in the Nigeria Project must stand up now and oppose this financial recklessness.’’
  The ASCSN argued that if Jonathan and other political office holders “including all manner of Advisers and Assistants collect such whopping terminal benefits, then, the incoming government of General Muhammad Buhari must ensure that they return the money to the public treasury”.

The statement pointed out that it was inconceivable that in a situation where Civil Servants contribute their meagre salary into the Contributory Pension Scheme and receive no gratuity after long years of service to their fatherland, political office holders who serve for one to eight years and collect millions of naira monthly still awarded themselves such mouth-watering severance benefits”.

It added: “As we write, Public Servants that retired under the compulsory Pension Scheme have not collected their monthly pension since July 2014.
  “There must be a limit to greediness. This is why we call on the Trade Union Movement, the Civil Society groups, and other prominent Nigerians to stand up and resist this impunity.  It may be because nobody said anything about these corrupt practices in the past that the politicians are also talking about life pension for themselves,” the Union added.

ASCSN explained that though “the jumbo pay” was attributed to the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), “there is no doubt whatsoever that the Commission is acting the script from the highest level of Government.

“If the President and all those that have been awarded the jumbo pay refuse to do the needful by rejecting the pay, we will be forced to conclude that we Nigerians are just working and living for our political leaders and this will be too bad,” the ASCSN stated.

It therefore emphasized that if the Presidency was not privy to this scandalous severance benefits, it must publicly distance itself from the ill-advised benefits and reject the offer immediately.

Making reference to NHIS, ASCSN regretted that instead of spending their time performing the functions of their offices for which they were appointed, some Chief Executives waste their energy “witch-hunting union officials and innocent members of staff who they believe will not allow them the leverage to help themselves with the finances of the parastatals”.

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