Nigeria: National Hajj Commission, Stakeholders Review 2019 Hajj, Begins Preparations for 2020 Operations
London, Nov. 8, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Stakeholders of Nigerian hajj operations have congratulated the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), over a successful 2019 hajj operations
The commendation came after a meeting to review the 2019 Hajj and first preparatory meeting on 2020 Hajj held on 24th and 26th of October 2019. The review brought together Chief Executives of Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards/Agencies/Commissions (SPWB/A/Cs) and Licensed Tour Operators.
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This was contained in a statement by NAHCON Head of Public Affairs, Fatima Sanda Usara, which informed that the meetings, were held in NAHCON’s new headquarters, The Hajj House.
In attendance at the meetings, according to the statement, were, apart from the two stakeholders earlier mentioned, were NAHCON Board members, its executive officers and management staff while the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Barrister Abdullah Mukhtar Muhammad chaired both review meetings.
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The gatherings generally acknowledged the improvements made in the 2019 Hajj operations and in order to sustain the successes so far achieved, there was a call to maintain the spirit of teamwork and consultations just as the two meetings also congratulated NAHCON for moving into its new office.
They described the building as a prestige to Hajj operations in Nigeria and good legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The issues discussed, according to the statement included the Makkah/Madina accommodation and it was agreed that funds for booking of lodgings would be deposited early and directly to building owners for cheaper bargains adding that, during operations, each state must deploy a minimum of one official to Madinah in advance of its pilgrims’ arrival for smoother coordination.
On the issue of Masha’ir: in reference to the retreat in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa, the Commission lamented the several requests for extension of deadline for registration as compounding the Mina congestion problem.
Against this background, the Commission, therefore cautioned both state boards and Licensed Tour Operators to abide by early registration and to stick to deadlines, assuring that if this arrangement is respected, there is certainty that service providers in Saudi Arabia will reserve adequate space for pilgrims as requested in a formal communication.
It is in relation to this that the Commission approved status quo to be maintained on remittance of Hajj fare; disclosing that, deadline for closure of registration will be announced in due course just as intending pilgrims are to deposit about N1.5m in three instalments to their states’ pilgrims’ boards in bank draft.
As for Licensed Tour Operators, the statement said, due to number of complaints received from pilgrims on services being rendered not being commensurate with package paid for, measures have been taken to ensure that the package a pilgrim pays for is what will be served to them.
“Towards this, the Commission will define types of packages available and cost of each. The packages will be publicised in the mass media,” the statement assured.
“Consequent upon this, state boards and Licensed Tour Operators must register all their pilgrims on the e-portal and particulars of the intending pilgrim be supplied on the portal. The Commission will not tolerate pilgrims being registered on portals other than that which it is created for. This deviation has hitherto remained an impediment to reliable data bank for security reasons, research and reference purposes.
“Similarly, Tour Operators have up to November 30 to submit online application forms for 2020 Hajj license to avoid disqualification,” the statement cautioned.
It was also resolved at the meetings that SPWBs will be allowed to conduct Umrah operations to boost their revenue generation at the state level, but however, they must have dedicated and certified staff to run the Umrah services just as they must also run separate accounts for Hajj and Umrah while NAHCON will monitor the accounts to ensure full compliance and proper utilization of the funds.
Other complaints were also tabled and treated accordingly at the meetings.