Posted by News Express | 25 June 2020 | 1,818 times
By GARBA MUHAMMAD, Kaduna
In view of the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to limit this year’s Hajj to only residents and the wider operational implications for Hajj participating countries like Nigeria, Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a civil society organisation that monitors and reports the Hajj, has called on the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to immediately summon a stakeholders meeting to discuss the way forward for Hajj and Umrah industry in Nigeria.
Such a meeting, when called, shall be held in line with existing protocols as released by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), IHR said.
“The meeting should involve all Hajj stakeholders such as airliners, immigration Service, Customs, Ulama, NCAA, Hajj technocrats, private tour operators, Saudi Arabian embassy in Nigeria, Civil Societies and Financial institutions,” IHR said Wednesday in a statement signed by the National Coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammed. It urged NAHCON to immediately direct state Muslim pilgrims welfare boards to commence the process of affecting refunds of deposits made by Hajj 2020 intending pilgrims who are willing to get their without delay.
IHR also called on NAHCON to put a machinery in motion to educate Hajj 2020 pilgrims on the need to defer their Hajj to 2021 in order to reduce the burden of going through cancelling and re-registration of same pilgrims for Hajj 2021.
The civil society group said it acknowledged the challenges faced by private Hajj companies in view of the fact that most of them have made a financial commitment to Saudi Arabian based on Hajj service providers and may not have the requisite financial power to affect full refund to their prospective pilgrims.
IHR also advised NAHCON to carry out wide consultations on how to assist the registered private tour operators in overcoming the obvious operational challenges birthed by the banning of international pilgrims from participating in Hajj 2020.
It said countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Britain, South Africa, and Singapore had rightly read the handwriting on the wall and took the painful but necessary decision of opting out of Hajj 2020 before Saudi Arabia announced its decision.
Meanwhile, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria NAHCON has acknowledged “the outpour of interests and enquiries by individuals, pressmen and other stakeholders over the cancellation of international pilgrimage for 2020 Hajj.”
A statement on Wednesday by Fatima Sanda Usara, NAHCON Head Public Affairs, said the Commission’s leadership, board members and management welcomed the news with complete surrender to the will of the Almighty, and commended the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the brave decision.
The statement said NAHCON is sensitive to all the enquiries and concerns that greeted Saudi Arabia’s much awaited decision.
Hence, the Commission assured the general public that as soon as its leadership fulfils all administrative, cum official requirements, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NAHCON shall hold a press briefing where all enquiries and way forward would be addressed.
NAHCON urged intending pilgrims to remain calm as necessary arrangements are in place to protect their interest. “The Commission appreciates the prayers and support extended to it from all segments of the society,” the statement said.
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