By Peter Orengo
There was drama at the NHIF headquarters after the fund chairman was suspended by the Government barely hours after he threw out the Chief Executive Officer. Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o showed Richard Muga – the chairman of National Hospital Insurance Fund Board of Directors – the door after the latter had communicated the decision to suspend CEO Richard Kerich and four other senior managers.
At the same time, it emerged that a company that received Sh202 million from NHIF to cover medical services for three months beginning January, is 99 per cent owned by a person whose identity is yet to be known. It also emerged that Clinix Healthcare Ltd received Sh91.3 million from NHIF for 21 facilities – some of which were not open by January when the contract was signed.
Sacked NHIF Chairman Richard Muga [Photo:File/Standard]
On Thursday morning drama at the NHIF offices started moments after a board meeting of 10 directors failed to agree on Prof Muga’s proposal that, among others, called for the suspension of part of the management over a string of scandals at the multi-billion shilling scheme.
Muga went ahead and suspended the officers, a decision that infuriated other board members and invited the wrath of Prof Nyong’o, who overturned the decision and instead suspended the chairman.
"The Board of NHIF has communicated to me that you unilaterally sacked the Chief Executive and four other managers. You have no mandate as the chairman. This is a breach of protocol and insubordination to me," said Nyong’o.
But Muga stood his ground and dared the minister to go ahead and de-gazette him, arguing that he was not the appointing authority.
The differences among board members played out publicly as they clashed before media cameras, with the chairman often interjecting when his deputy spoke.
"Don’t listen to him, he is not the chairman. I am the chairman and I am the only one mandated to make announcements here, forget about what he has said," said Muga, when his deputy, Wilson Sosion, sought to speak to the media.
At some point, Medical Services Permanent Secretary Mary Ngare stormed the press conference where she delivered the Government position. "All we know is that the board and management is intact and nobody is allowed to either sack or suspend anyone except the minister and the appointing authority," said Ms Ngare.