The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has issued the Government of Cross River State with an operating license.
This makes Cross River the first State in Nigeria’s south-south and south-east regions to have a license to operate Hajj and Humrah pilgrimage tours.
Abdullahi Mukhtar, the Chairman of NAHCON presented the license to Reverend Father Bob Etta, the Special Adviser to the Cross River Governor on Religious Matters in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Mukhtar said that the issuance of the license was in recognition of the commitment and disposition of Cross River State toward its consistent involvement in Hajj operations and the well behaved pilgrims from the area.
Mukhtar said many States in the region applied for the license, but so far only Cross River was qualified to receive the document, having met the conditions required by the law.
He urged the Cross River Pilgrims Welfare Board to ensure that standards established are maintained as well as improve on the services since more persons may decide to participate subsequently.
Responding, Reverend Father Etta, who was represented by the Chairman of Cross River Pilgrims Welfare Board, Hassan Tanimu, said: “with the certification, the institution framework and policy for annual Hajj operations have been enshrined to sustain the process.”
Etta stated, “this means that more pilgrims, either privately and/or government sponsored can now depart for Hajj from Cross River State annually.”
Reverend Father Etta disclosed that for Cross River to be issued a license was a reflection of the trust the pilgrims and the Nigerian Government have in the States ability to provide the most efficient service to its contingents.
According to him, the already peaceful relationship between Christians and Muslims in the State would be further strengthened since it is based on deep respect and mutual understanding.
He noted for Cross River to be given this license speaks volume of the tolerance, reception and mutual co-existence between diverse religious groups in the State under Governor Ben Ayade despite being predominantly Christian.
This License would further deepen the existing relationship between Cross River Government and the national commission, he said.
The License, which is renewable, states: “Cross River State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Having satisfied the condition laid down by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), in exercise of the powers vested on it by Section 4 (1) (a) of the NAHCON (Establishment) Act 2006 is hereby granted license to carry out Hajj activities within its jurisdiction for a period of Two calendar years.”