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Promoting Good Governance.

Boards of parastatals lack power to suspend CEOs, SGF reiterates

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SECRETARY to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has reiterated that the board of any government agency lacks the powers to remove or suspend the head of that agency.

Mustapha made this known during the induction ceremony of the governing board members of some federal government agencies, universities and medical centres in Abuja, on Monday.

Mustapha urged the board members not to misunderstand or overreach their duties, explaining that the governing board of an agency has no business with the day-to-day running of the agency.

“The role of the boards are limited to setting operational and administrative policies for their agencies in consonance with government policy directives,” Mustapha explained.

“A board shall not be involved directly in the day-to-day management of a parastatal or an agency. A minister exercises control of parastatals at policy level through the board of the parastatal only.

“The board must only operate as a part-time board, in accordance with extant rules that forbids allocation of official quarters to members on a permanent basis and payment of estacode allowances for only overseas travels approved by the office of the secretary to the government of the federation and their part-time ministry.”

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Mustapha added that the presidency is worried about the recent development where the board members of an agency are trying to exert undue interference over the functions of the head of the agency in “blatant disregard for extant regulations guiding the conduct of board meetings”.

He maintained that a governing board of an agency imposing sanctions on the head of that agency is a “flagrant violation of the laid down rules”.

Though he did not mention it, it was obvious Mustapha was referring to the face-off between the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, and the agency’s governing council.

The board of the NHIS had imposed an indefinite suspension on the Executive Secretary following what the board described as several allegations of wrongdoing which included abuse of office and corruption. The board said a panel had been set up to investigate the allegations.

But Yusuf refused to obey the board’s directives, insisting that only the President who appointed him has the powers to sanction or remove him from office.

Attempts by a faction of the labour union at NHIS to prevent Yusuf from entering the agency’s premises in line with the directive of the board a week ago failed, as police used tear gas to disperse the protesters and escort the executive director into his office.

The ICIR has also reported that, according to the NHIS establishment Act, only the President may remove the Executive Secretary from office.

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