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Hajj 2016: Why Nigerian pilgrims crave for Nigerian kitchen in Saudi

By Garba Ahmed in Makkah on 04/09/2016

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The 2016 Nigerian pilgrims have stated why they demand for the establishment of a Nigerian Kitchen in Saudi Arabia.

Among reasons given was that it will address the perennial issues of hygiene and indecent eating habit of pilgrims in the Holy Land.

Many pilgrims who spoke on the issue urged the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, to borrow a leaf from other countries whose pilgrims have for long been enjoying these services established by their government across their hotel accommodations in Medina, Makkah and Muna.

Jafaru Ahmed, a pilgrim from Yobe said the kitchen is a welcome idea, provided that the same food vendors will be allowed to operate in the kitchen, in addition to those that must also be recruited from Nigeria.

“Government should also make sure that, the cost of the food, if not subsidised, should not exceed what is obtainable with the current food vendors that we patronise in our hotels,” he said.

Halima Isah, a Kaduna female pilgrim and a Food Technologist from the Department of Hospitality Management (formerly Catering and Hotel Management) said quality of ingredients, personal hygiene of operators, utensils and environmental hygiene can only be addressed if food is prepared in a controlled and fully equipped kitchen.

“Yes, establishing a kitchen across all state accommodations to serve food mainly consumed from that state, will address all problems of hygiene and even food poisoning as well as the eating culture of our pilgrims.

“Portion control, cost and provision of popular delicacies from at least three major geographical zones of Nigeria should be considered,” she said.

Kaduna-based volunteer Journalists had observed the lack of personal hygiene, eating habit and other important health issues by Nigerian pilgrims, especially in Medina, Makkah, Muna, Arafat and Muzdalifa.

They gathered that, in the past Hajj exercise in Muna, some pilgrims cultivated the habit of eating food next to refuse bins.

Pilgrims at accommodations in Medina and Makkah, also eat from overnight food vendors level of hygiene is not encouraging.

Garba Muhammad, Chairman of Kaduna Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), leader of the volunteer Journalists and Nasiru Yakubu Birnin Yero, Reporter, Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service, had called on the authorities concerned to address issues of food and eating habits, toilets, bath and environment, and most importantly, behaviour.

“It is only in Nigerian accommodations that you see all manner of food vendors and pilgrims eating on streets in an unhygienic environment. The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) should introduce Nigerian Kitchen in all state accommodations as observed in other country’s pilgrim accommodations,” the leader said.

He commended NAHCON’s newly introduced National Medical Team as part of the reforms aimed at improving services, increased efficiency, improved coordination and collaboration with the states, “and most importantly, responding to the fiscal situation facing Nigeria.

“Our findings in Medina and Makkah confirmed that, Nigerian pilgrims now access better medicare with the harmonisation of all the medical teams into what is now called National Medical Team.

“Pilgrims are however, urged to take advantage of the facilities when they are sick but not to abuse it.

“The provision of electronic wrist band to all pilgrims, introduction of DNA sample data, provision of accommodation next to Prophet Muhammad SAW mosque in Medina as well as the scheduled airlift of pilgrims to the Holy Land is also commended by pilgrims and encouraged by the Saudi authorities,” he added.

He advised pilgrims to adhere to the 12-hour ban on grouping of regular pilgrims from their tents in Mina to the Jamarat area to throw pebbles at the pillars symbolising Satan during the three days from Dhul Hijjah 10-12 (Sept. 11-13).

While commending NAHCON for early transport and distribution of Zam Zam to states, the   leader advised pilgrims to desist from carrying it in their luggage “as each five liter packages already awaits pilgrims at their various states.”

•Photo shows Nigerian pilgrims departing for the Hajj.

Source News Express

Posted 04/09/2016 05:52:17 AM


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