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Hajj Operation: CSO seeks amendment of NAHCON act

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The Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) has called on the National Assembly to amend the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Act to ensure an effective hajj operating system in Nigeria.

IHR National Coordinator, Malam Ibrahim Muhammed, made the call in a statement on Monday in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Muhammad said that the amendment would address gaps in both policy and its implementation in terms of service delivery.

He said the call also becomes necessary because of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj’s adjustment of hajj policy and calendar of events – which was a detailed approved guideline for all hajj participating countries.

According to him, Nigeria is the fifth largest hajj country and the first in Africa with an allocation of 95,000 slots.

” Nigeria is the only country out of the top 10 Hajj participating countries which includes Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Morocco and Malaysia that does not operate a centralized system.

” We operate a three-tier system in Nigeria (Federal, State and Local Governments).

” All the countries mentioned above have a unified and central control hajj administration with a coordinating unit at zones, so they found it easy to run five to six-year hajj rolling plans. ”

The coordinator said that the Local Government Pilgrims officers do Pilgrims Registration under the control of state Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards.

” Thereafter the State Pilgrims boards deposited such funds in their respective accounts before it will be moved to the NAHCON operational account on request all within one hajj calendar year. ”

He noted that the management of hajj operations was strictly time-limited to start thinking of continuing with these time-consuming bureaucracies.

” We support an advocacy for improved services to our dear pilgrims but the recent calls for the decentralisation of NAHCON and devolving powers to the states would be a very wrong move.

” For example, the new calendar of activities released by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah recently scheduled Sept. 4, for the start of arrangements for the 2025 hajj.

” By virtue of diplomatic protocol, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj only relates with National Hajj missions not regional bodies.

” Decentralisation as being touted will allow 36 states’ pilgrim’s welfare boards and agencies to send 36 different delegations to Saudi Arabia (the first in the History of Hajj operation) to liaise with Saudi Arabia (host country) on Hajj plans.

” 36 states will also sign different hajj memorandum of understanding with one country.”

On service delivery, he said NAHCON controls airlines and accommodation in Madina.

” In the last few years, Nigerian pilgrims have been housed in a 4-star hotel within the vicinity or five minutes’ walk close to the prophet’s Mosque.

” On the other hand, States are responsible for choosing their accommodation in Makkah.

” Also, registration of pilgrims starts from the local governments after which the funds are transferred to state pilgrims’ boards before being transferred to NAHCON.

” We, therefore, call on the National Assembly to make it possible for pilgrims to pay their deposits directly to NAHCON.

” This will ensure that the funds goes direct to NAHCON, so that the commission can in turn meet its obligations in time and avoid a situation where the entire operation will be put in jeopardy.

” This, we believe, is also the best way to truly hold the commission to account in case of any service failure.” (NAN)

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