Business

PenCom reacts to allegations its DG spent millions of dollars on estacodes  

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has described as outrageous falsehood and fiction allegations that its Director-General, Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, was paid millions of dollars as estacode during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

The reaction of the commission followed online reports that it spent such a huge amount as Estacode in 2020, as well as further claims that there were documents showing how the monies were paid into her account.

This disclosure is contained in a statement issued by PenCom on Sunday, July 30, 2023, and can be seen on the commission’s official Twitter account.

PenCom said no government official could claim foreign travel allowances in 2020 when there was a global restriction on international travel and most airports were closed, forcing people to work from home and hold virtual meetings. 

The commission said all rates for estacode payments are standardized and foreign trips require strict documentation, “including air tickets, stamped passport pages and evidence of several days spent”. 

It stated that even if the PenCom boss were to spend 2 years outside the country non-stop, her estacode allowances would not be up to a million dollars. 

Allegation a fiction 

The statement from PenCom reads,

  • ‘’Management would like to alert the public to the renewed campaign of outrageous falsehood against the National Pension Commission (PenCom) and its Director General, Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, over some imagined financial impropriety. Although the promoters of this fiction went to the extent of manufacturing documents and listing non-existent bank accounts to make the fabrication look real, fiction remains fiction and can never become the truth no matter how many times it is repeated and recycled. 
  • ‘’It was alleged that the Director General was s paid millions of dollars as estacodes for foreign trips she did not embark upon in 2020. This poor attempt at calumny is exposed by the fact that there was a global lockdown in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic during which international travels were restricted. Offices were shut down and most people had to hold virtual meetings. It is, thus, most outlandish to suggest that any government agency would claim to be paying allowances to its officials for international travels when most airports were shut down globally.’’ 

Jostle for political appointments 

The commission added,

  • ‘’More so, official foreign trips require strict documentation, including air tickets, stamped passport pages, and evidence of several days spent. Rates for estacodes are standardized. If the DG were to spend two years abroad without returning to the country for one day, it would still be impossible for her to claim a million dollars as an estacode. The desperate fabricators need to respect the intelligence of Nigerians. 
  • ‘’We are aware of current political intrigues in the country caused by the jostling for appointments, but we believe there are more decent ways of going about it than peddling tales by moonlight and using notorious online outlets to push the lies to unsuspecting readers. The public is implored to ignore these fake documents and the discredited allegations being recycled at the slightest opportunity. The Commission has nothing to hide and will continue to run a transparent and accountable system.’’