The National Health Insurance Scheme paid allowances worth N4.93bn to its staff from January 2016 to December 2017.
This is part of findings made by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Anthony Ayine, whose office was not empowered to institute probes against non-compliant agencies of government.
According to Ayine, 11 ministries, departments and agencies have never submitted their audited reports to him as stipulated by law.
In 2016, 160 failed to submit their audited accounts to his office, while 175 failed to do so in 2017.
“During the periodic check of National Health Insurance Scheme, Abuja, various irregular and unapproved allowances amounting to N4,931,475,094.63 were paid to members of staff during the period January 2016 to December 2017,” the 2017 audit report seen by PUNCH, read in part.
“The payments violated Public Service Rule 130102 as they are not part of the allowances listed as payable to officers in the Federal Public Service.
“Allowance differential payment is illegal and alien to the public service as public service allowances are paid on the basis of grade level as at the time of payment.
“Sitting allowance was paid for holding day to day committee meetings for which the officers received salaries in violation of Circular Ref No. SWC/s/04/S.310/T/65 of April 8, 2016 which says that ‘public officers on monthly salary are not entitled to sitting allowance for holding meetings in their offices.”
Some other allowances paid by the scheme include upfront allowance, upfront differential allowance, 13th-month salary allowance, pre-retirement overseas training allowance, a terminal benefit or exit package, and sitting allowance.
The report noted that the terminal benefit allowance is different from what the Contributory Pension Act provided for.
Bemoaning the poor finance and public sector accounting values in the civil service, Mr Ayine said, “A number of major weaknesses and lapses in the management of public funds and resources were identified across several MDAs during the annual audit.
“Our findings range from irregular expenditures to failure to surrender surplus revenues to the treasury, all running into billions of naira.
“Overall, our findings are indicative of significant weaknesses in expenditure control, accounting, and financial reporting and in the completeness and accuracy of the consolidated financial statements.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in July sacked the immediate-past Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Usman Yusuf, over numerous allegations of corruption and personal enrichment.
Another former Executive Secretary, Olufemi Thomas, is standing trial over a $2.1m corruption scandal.