Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, July 28, 2016, approved the removal of chief executives of five major parastatals in the nation’s health sector.
This was disclosed in a statement by the director of Press and Public Relations in Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Bolaji Adebiyi.
Those removed include the director-general of Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, director-general of National Agency for the Control of Aids, Prof. John Idoko, and chief executive of Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, Prof. Innocent Ujah.
Also removed is the executive director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Ado Muhammad, and acting executive secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. Olufemi Akingbade.
They were replaced by Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu (NCDC), Dr. Sani Aliyu (NACA), Prof. Babatunde Salako (NIOMR), Prof. Echezona Ezeanolue (NPHCDA), and Prof. Usman Yusuf (NHIS).
According to the statement, Ihekweazu is the Managing Partner of EpiAfric, a public health consultancy firm that focuses on Africa, while Aliyu is a Consultant in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
Salako is the provost of the College of Medicine at the University of Ibadan; Ezemolue is a Professor of Paediatrics and Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA; while Yusuf is a Professor of Paediatrics at St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, US.
No reason was given for their removal.
Sources, however, said it may be connected to allegation by foreign donor agencies that funds were being diverted, particularly in the Federal Ministry of Health.
The minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, however, said affected agency heads had not been sacked but “replaced.”
“They have not been sacked, they have been replaced. So, you can quote me that government has decided to replace them, but they have not been sacked. They are five of them,” he said.
When asked what must have prompted the move and whether the decision had anything do with the report of Global Fund and Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative, Adewole said it was part of the government’s change mantra
He said, “I believe it is part of the desire for change and to bring on board new blood. As you may be aware, some of them have been there for about seven years. And this administration has been in office for one year. I am saying there is the need to bring on board new blood and that is the agenda of the government.
“Well, I wouldn’t know if it has any links with the reports and indictments. It is only Mr. President that can confirm that. But I am sure that the President must have taken many things into consideration before approving the new changes.”
The Health Ministry and some of its agencies and departments have been accused by GAVI of diverting funds meant for the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Also, GAVI in its report of 2014 accused Nigeria of mismanaging immunisation fund