Assalam alaykum waramatullah wabarkatuhu,
It is gives us sense of honour and fulfillment for Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR) to welcome you all to the 2023 HAJJ LECTURE/AWARD ceremony. A wise man says “Don’t work for recognition, but do work worthy of recognition”. So, the theme of this year’s event is ‘RECOGNISING DEDICATION, REVIEW AND OVERVIEW OF HAJJ CHALLENGES’.
We invited you here today to show appreciation to institutions and individuals who have demonstrated a remarkable devotion in Hajj management and service delivery. It is said that “man gives you the award, but Almighty Allah gives you the reward”. For those who have scaled through the benchmarks of IHR award, we say congratulations. For those who have also excelled in various services that benefited our dear pilgrims and are not on our list of awardees, May Almighty Allah give you the reward, Ameen!
Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), Hajj Reporters Media Ltd, one as a registered Non-Governmental Organisation and the other a Media Company that serves as a platform for journalists who focuses on pilgrims’ welfare, development of Hajj institutions and most importantly to play oversight functions over those saddled with the responsibility of managing Hajj affairs in Nigeria. Hajj Reporters Media Ltd is the publisher of Hajj Reporters.com, Hajj reporters Hausa.com, and Hajj Reporters Magazine.
We are happy to inform our brothers and sisters here today that Hajj Reporters coverage of 2023 reached over 135 million people across our social media platform with over 11,561 inquiries from pilgrims through our inboxes – thus making Hajj Reporters, the Hajj and Umrah based media, with largest audience in Africa and arguably in the world.
We express our appreciation to hundreds of IHR volunteer members who have contributed immensely throughout the entire Hajj exercise, and our international partners like Islamic Radio Talk, Salam Radio, Hajaraim Sharifain, Pakistan Today News, and others too numerous to mention. We are equally grateful to those who sent messages of goodwill and prayers. May Almighty Allah reward you all, Ameen!!
As a pressure and advocacy group, Hajj Reporters will continue to champion developmental reportage and harness our robust and often effective internal channel of communication to seek for better services and instill transparency and competency not only in Nigeria’s Hajj industry, but among all the Hajj participating countries.
With over 20 years of monitoring and reporting Hajj and Umrah activities both in Nigeria and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, IHR is in position to be part of solution seeking stakeholders on challenges of Hajj services in Nigeria.
Having transited from an ad-hoc committee to Directorate of Pilgrims Affairs (DPA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the establishment of NAHCON via NAHCON Establishment Act 2006, Nigeria’s Hajj and Umrah regulatory agency has come of age amidst operational challenges. Furthermore, we believe that the Hajj and Umrah industry in Nigeria will continue to experience galloping challenges unless we adopt regular and critical look at how administrative structures of other Top 10 countries impacted on Hajj services delivery and preparation. This will enable us to mitigate pilgrims and Hajj officials’ biases as well facilitate efficient quantification and co-localisation analyses of Hajj services in practical terms.
It is important for us to understand that activities of Hajj and Umrah conducted by NAHCON, States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards, Licensed Private Hajj Operators are classified as Pre-Hajj Preparations – meaning that the HAJJ EXERCISE TOOK PLACE IN SAUDI ARABIA.
Registration of pilgrims, education and enlightenment, documentation of pilgrims’ data, medical screening, airlift of pilgrims are all pre-Hajj activities. There are basically Five Days of Hajj, starting from 8th of Dhul Hujaj. These days are observed in Saudi Arabia and as such, we should begin to look at the impact of policy unification, administrative stability and how they affected pre-Hajj activities in Nigeria.
IHR will convoke a Hajj stakeholders conference to brainstorm on the negative effects of annual/one-year Hajj plans on service delivery with a view to have a robust dialogue on the future development of our Hajj industry.
Independent Hajj Reporters editorial objectives align with the notion of developing religious ethics in reporting Hajj and Umrah activities. Such reports must be based on factual, balanced and most importantly has to conform with psychological criteria that will allow pilgrims to perform their rituals without fear or apprehension. Moreso, Hajj is a global event that attracts international media coverage.
Our focus is revolved around satisfaction of pilgrims within the standard Hajj operating procedure that takes cognisance of fulfillment of the Almighty Allah’s injunctions on Hajj Mabrur.
Our distinguished guests, please permit me to explain that our criteria of selecting awardees cut across various Hajj activities and it is not based on the performance index of Hajj days alone. We take cognisance of how states Muslim pilgrims welfare boards/agencies handled pilgrim’s registrations, documentation, education and enlightenment of their pilgrims, proactiveness in response to inquiries made by pilgrims and officials, efficiency in managing crises and impact of service delivery to pilgrims.
Finally, it is our hope that those who are being honoured today will redouble their efforts in subsequent Hajj exercises to serve our dear guests of Allah (pilgrims) better. We also believe that those who have not made the list today will also strive harder next year.
We pray for a smooth and peaceful event and wish our guests safe trip back to your destinations.
On more, thank you for being here!
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