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‘Even if one million Tucano jets are deployed, banditry will not end’ —Prof Usman, Ex-NIHS boss

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A former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, says even if one million Tucano jets are deployed against Fulani herdsmen by the Federal Government, the problem of banditry will not be solved due to the militarisation of the process.

Prof. Usman who spoke at a policy dialogue and cultural festival organised by the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Sociocultural Association in Abuja on Thursday, said banditry was a social problem that will not go away with the use of military force but through dialogue.

At the interactive session with the theme “The future of Fulani Pastoralists in Nigeria” which was the first of it’s kind with the aim of addressing the challenges confronting the Fulani ethnic stock in Nigeria, Prof. Usman who delivered a keynote address at the session, said attacking banditry with military might would only force the bandits to get more desperate and adopt new strategies.

“Banditry is a social problem and Nigeria is increasingly militarising it. There is a role for the military, but there is not going to be a military solution to banditry anywhere in this country.

“Even if one million Tucano jets are deployed against the bandits, it will not solve the problem.

Read also :2023: Wike promises to end banditry in six months

“You can have a million Tucano jets you cannot solve this problem.

“Only if we all come in to solve this problem, and it is not time to blame anybody; we are all in this mess together and somebody told me we all bore this ‘pregnancy’ and gave birth to this monster called banditry.

“We are all responsible for this problem directly or indirectly, and the soldiers are called to clean up the mess. I told them, military, you cannot do this alone,” he said.

Usman also alluded to the fact that the menace of banditry is fueled by “drugs supplied from southern Nigeria and arms supplied from the core-North and neighbouring countries like Niger.”

In 2018, Prof. Usman ran into troubled waters when he was suspended by the then Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, over allegations of “misappropriation of funds, high handedness, nepotism, misconduct, flagrant disregard for superior authority and use of inappropriate words on a senior officer.”

He was specifically accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of misappropriating N860 million budgeted by his agency for training in 2016, disrespect for rules in the award of contracts for the supply of e-library equipment and award of media consultancy contracts to his brother, and the payment of funds to contractors before supply of goods in connivance with the heads of finance and audit at the agency.”

Prof. Usman’s suspension order was carried out when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was the acting President. But when President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country from a medical trip, the ex-NHIS boss was immediately recalled and reinstated.

However, President Buhari in early July 2019 finally dismissed Yusuf as Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The director of media of the health ministry, Boade Akinola, said the termination of Mr Yusuf’s appointment was based on the recommendation of a panel of inquiry which the Nigerian government asked to probe allegations of fraud and abuse of office made against him.

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