Confusion continues to reign at the National Hospital Insurance firm (NHIF) where embattled acting chief executive officer Adan A. Adan is staying put, even as Medical Services Minister Prof Anyang Nyong’o moves to have a new board take over management of the fund.
Last week Nyong’o fired Adan after The Standard unearthed yet another scandal, this time involving the acting CEO who allegedly sanctioned the hiring of his wife and relatives. On Monday The Standard established Nyong’o wrote to stakeholders last week asking them to nominate new members to the Fund’s board.
Nyong’o, who has been at loggerheads with acting Head of the Civil Service Francis Kimemia over alleged interference in the Fund, is relying on the NHIF Act that gives him powers to appoint its board as opposed to Kimemia.
Confirming the new turn of events, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) said they have already forwarded three names to the minister.
“We have responded to the Minister’s letter calling on us to nominate members to the board as per the NHIF Act. Knut has nominated three names, two men and one woman for the minister to choose from,” the chairman Mr Wilson Sossian told The Standard on Monday.
“The appointment of a caretaker committee by acting Head of the Civil Service, Mr Kimemia should never have occurred in the first place. The NHIF Act cannot be suspended over the State Corporations Act. Both the President and Prime Minister should have appointed the committee as per the NHIF Act,” he added.
Sossian said as far as Knut is concerned, the mandate of the NHIF caretaker committee expired last week and it has no business staying in office even as it emerged PS Kimemia is planning to gazette their extension for another three months.
“NHIF is (funded by) contributors’ money and not the Government’s. It was a mistake for a caretaker to have been appointed at the behest of fighting corruption at the fund when their real interest is the money held by the Fund. Should Kimemia go ahead and gazette the extension, Knut will go to court to protect the fund and the scheme,” Sossian explained.
The Kenya Medical Association, another stakeholder, also confirmed it had received Prof Nyong’o’s request.
“We have responded to the minister by nominating a member. We did this by Friday as a matter of urgency,” Dr Elly Nyaim National chairman of KMA said.
Dr Nyaim castigated the caretaker committee and accused PS Kimemia of interfering with the running of NHIF in total disregard of the constitutional spirit.
“When we voted for a new Constitution we expected that things will be done above board. But when a civil servant displays blatant impunity in the affairs of NHIF, we are left wondering what next. If a PS and a Secretary to the Cabinet can disregard a minister under the behest of fighting political wars, what will his juniors do?” they posed.
Stakeholders now want a speedy resolution to the NHIF management saga failure to which they are threatening to derail the new medical scheme.
“Our members are not being served well under this scheme and if this continues, we will reconsider our position on this scheme,” said Mr Tom Odege, Secretary General of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants (UKCS).
The caretaker committee, which has avoided meeting at the NHIF offices in Upper Hill, is said to have met secretly in Kimemia’s office on Friday where it was assured its lifespan would be extended for three months.
Though a gazette notice has not been issued to that effect, members of the committee who did not want to be named confided in The Standard that Adan was still in office
The chairman of the committee, Mr Mutuma Mugambi could, however, not be reached for comment, while Adan did not answer our calls.
A day after The Standard revealed that Adan sought to have his wife hired by the fund, Nyong’o appointed Mr Simeon ole Kirgotty who is the Director of Administration at the Ministry of Medical Services, to replace Adan.
“I have appointed you to hold brief at the NHIF while I make arrangements to appoint the new board with which you will work to superintend reforms at the Fund. Please ensure the Fund runs effectively, efficiently, and productively,” Nyong’o said in his letter to Ole Kirgotty.
The Minister indicated in the letter that he would soon announce a new board to run the fund and replace the Adan-led committee and the former board, which was suspended last month.
Last month, Justice Weldon Korir ruled that NHIF Act was not followed in appointment of the new team, but the AG appealed aganistthe ruling.
The judge noted that Section 4(1) of NHIF Act stating how the board should be appointed was not followed. Kenya Medical Association filed the case.
By Luke Anami, The Standard