Home Global REVEALED: How NAHCON’s unprofessional conduct messed up 2022 Hajj – Tour operators
Global - July 8, 2022

REVEALED: How NAHCON’s unprofessional conduct messed up 2022 Hajj – Tour operators

 

The crisis that marred 2022 hajj operations is caused by NAHCON unprofessionalism, subjective and suspicious decisions, hajj tour operators have said.

 

The operators disclosed this in a press conference addressed by Alhaji Nasidi Yahaya Suleiman, National President of Association of Hajj Tour Operates in Nigeria (AHOUN) in Kano on Friday.

 

It said its members have recorded unprecedented losses running into billions of naira – all courtesy of NAHCON poor bureaucratic tendencies

It said over 700 tours operator pilgrims have been abandoned in Nigeria even though the operators have paid N500 million to the commission to procure rescue flights for them.

 

Read the tour operators full statement below:

Gentlemen and Ladies of the Press. Thank you very much for the opportunity you gave us to address you at a very short notice. We gathered here to address a very important matter evolving from this year’s Hajj operation.

The Association for Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHOUN) is the umbrella trade association for all the tour operators evolve in the organization of Hajj and Umrah services for the Nigerian Muslim population.

As we speak to you, over 700 international intending Pilgrims that suppose to travel to the Holy land for this year’s pilgrimage are stranded at the airports in Kano, Abuja and Lagos, because they were unable to secure aircraft that will airlift them to the Holy land.

The reason for their missing the journey is because of the inability of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to provide alternative carriers as rescue flight to airlift the Pilgrims.

The journey that leads us to this mess can be traced to many unprofessional, subjective and suspicious decisions by the NAHCON which we itemized below:

1.Selfish allocation of Hajj slots to Tour operators which they don’t have authority to do. The Saudi Hajj ministry allotted 9’032 slots for distribution to tour operators in the country but NAHCON went ahead and shared 9’573 slots to 176 tour operators on paper. This poor judgement led to delay of almost 2 weeks for tour operators’ portal to be activated after several compromises made by our members.

2. The inability of NAHCON to release the fees and charges our members should pay before they can have their systems activated for Visa processing on time. Eventually when the fees were released it carried number of discrepancies which further caused delay for payments and distortion in the Hajj fares objectives set individually by our members.

3. Despite our members commitment and payment of all charges, it took NAHCON complete 2 weeks before the first batch of companies started to receive their money in foreign IBAN accounts. As at the closing date of airlift of Pilgrims, 35 companies’ IBAN accounts were not credited, and many of them has to purchase forex at the autonomous market to pay Hajj services to enable them print visa for their intended pilgrims.

4. the delays caused by the failure of NAHCON to fund our members IBAN accounts led to many of our members to miss their scheduled flights to the Holy land. Millions of Naira was lost in ticket cancellations, no-show and refund charges and reissues.

5. When we realized the danger facing our members because of shortage of options for flights, we proactively approached NAHCON to organised a rescue flight 7 days before the closing date of entry to the Holy land (01/07/22) by 4th of July we paid into the NAHCON’s RTGS account with CBN about N500 million, which was meant for flight tickets of about 800 passengers. After the payment we presented several carriers as option to the Commission, but they dragged feet to reach agreement with anyone of them until the last day.

6. For the past 4-day NAHCON has been pulling our legs with promises that they will not leave any of our intending Pilgrims on ground before the closing day of entry to the Holy land. Alas! it befalls on us that it was the States’ Pilgrims that they meant not our international passengers.

We are still counting our losses which we believe runs into hundreds of millions of Naira.

Our immediate demands:

1. The NAHCON should as a matter of urgency release all monies paid by the Association into its RTGs account as flight booking to enable our members start refunding their clients.

2. Refunding all those companies whose IBAN were not credited and are forced to patronize the black market for forex to process visa immediately in full.

3.Begin immediate reconciliation with our members to refund every single visa that wasn’t utilized as a result of their actions and inactions.

4. The MUASASA in Saudi must be made to answer questions as to why Tour operators accounts were not credited on time and why those that were credited late Monday were reversed.

We are determining not to let any of our members loss a dime for services paid and not enjoyed.

Finally, we appeal to the Federal Government of Nigeria to as a matter of urgency set up a powerful and genuine panel to review this year’s Hajj activity from scratch, because what happened is really pathetic in the history of Hajj Operation in the country with aim of restoring sanity into the future the operation.

Moreover, we request the National Assembly to also set up committee that will look into consideration the amendments of NAHCON Act 2006, so that all Stakeholders especially Tour Operators have important role to play in the system.

We also appeal to those intending Pilgrims that suffered avoidable stress and trauma because of this event to accept our deep regrets and apologies. May Allah reward them for their good intentions to visit His sacred house. We implore them to bear with our members for the refund of their monies.

As a credible body we will ensure our bona fide members do the right things by negotiating suitable terms for the refund of their customers’ money.

We thank you all for your cooperation.

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