‘Outrageous Falsehood’ — PenCom Debunks Claims It Spent Millions Of Dollars On Estacodes
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has described as “outrageous falsehood” claims that Aisha Dahir-Umar, its director general (DG), was paid “millions of dollars” for estacode during COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
Reports circulating online further alleged that there were documents showing how the monies were paid into her account.
But in a statement issued on Sunday, the commission said it was impossible for any government official to claim foreign travel allowances in 2020 when there was a global restriction on international travels and most airports were closed, forcing people to work from home and hold virtual meetings.
The commission said all rates for estacode payments are standardised and foreign trips require strict documentation, “including air tickets, stamped passport pages and evidence of number of days spent”.
“Even if the DG were to spend two years abroad non-stop, her estacode allowances would not be up to a million dollars,” it said.
PenCom linked the reports to the current jostling for appointments in the country.
FULL TEXT OF THE PRESS RELEASE
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, a fiction remains a 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 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.
More so, official foreign trips require strict documentation, including air tickets, stamped passport pages and evidence of number of days spent. Rates for estacodes are standardised. 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 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.