2019 Hajj: Lawmakers commend NAHCON for fare reduction

Amina Mohammed, Abuja

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Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila have commended the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON ), for the downward review of 2019 Hajj fare.

The commendation came during the stakeholders meeting to review the arrangement for 2019 Hajj operations and award presentation.

Speaking separately at the stakeholders meeting in Abuja, the leadership of National Assembly expressed delight over the development.

Represented by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, (Niger North), Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the reduction of the Hajj fare “will endear Nigerian pilgrims to the government and the commission”.

Senator Lawan advised Hajj stakeholders such as selected airlines and other service providers to ensure that efficient services are rendered to the pilgrims.

He said “Hajj camps should be out in good and habitual conditions and that Basic Travel Allowances should be given to the pilgrims before departure to the Holy Land”.

The Senate President also urged NAHCON to ensure “Nigerian pilgrims are conveyed to their hotels on arrival with dispatch and the pilgrims should be accommodated in hotels close to the Haram in both Makkah and Madinah”.

“NAHCON must ensure that adequate arrangements are put in place for the pilgrims in Muna and Arafat and should be served good food in time, hot and not cold”. He added

The Senate President further “admonished Nigerian pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the country while in Saudi Arabia, desist from crimes, overstaying their visa or carrying prohibited items into the kingdom and use the Hajj exercise to pray for the unity, peace and prosperity of the country”.

On his part, Speaker Gbajabiamila, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Sanusi Garba Rikiji uttered absolute support and cooperation of the House to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.

He said Speaker Gbajabiamila is “particularly delighted with the reduction of Hajj fare and the extension of closure of registration for Nigerians wishing to undertake the Hajj”.

Digital Hajj:
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of NAHCON, Barr. Abdullahi Mukhtar said this year’s Hajj is coming with its own peculiarities.

The NAHCON boss said unlike in previous exercises, visa procurement for the 2019 Hajj is IT based.

He said individual states and tour operators are now responsible for processing their own visas online.

“Now, there is no need to take passports to the embassy or consulate in Kano and because of this innovation there is now no room for changes, corrections and substitutions” He said.

He also noted that “for each Visa processed, payment is generated electronically and the account of NAHCON is debited”.

He therefore, admonished all officials involved to be careful as they go about their duties.

He further advised relevant officials to continuously educate intending pilgrims on the new dimension to expected challenges with weather conditions.

“Officials, particularly the ulama, should continue in their task of education and orientation of the pilgrims as it makes no point for one to spend N1.4 million and doesn’t know how to perform Hajj”.  He added

Airlift of pilgrims:

Meanwhile, Airlift of Nigeria intending pilgrims for hajj 2019 will commence on 10th July with pilgrims from Katsina state.

NAHCON Chairman, Barr Abdullahi Mukhtar disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting held in Abuja.

Adding that “the extension of registration to 15th July will be respected as deadline and final date for closing portal is 12 mid-nights”.

Awards presentation:

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria has awarded FCT Pilgrims board as overall best State Pilgrims Board during 2018 hajj exercise.

Kaduna and armed forces came as third and second overall best retrospectively while Kogi State executive Chairman bags the most innovative State Pilgrims Board boss during 2018 hajj.

The award was presented by the representative of Senate President, Senator Sahabi.

Ime Njoku