Hajj and Umrah Stakeholders, on Sunday in Abuja, appealed to the Federal Government not to completely remove its hands from the management of Hajj and Umrah operations in the country.
The appeal was made in a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day National Hajj and Umrah Stakeholders Conference organised by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
Reading through the communiqué, Secretary to the commission, Dr Bello Tambuwal said stakeholders insisted that the commission should remain under the Presidency and reject call for its return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tambuwal said that participants at the conference commended the Federal Government for granting NAHCON the approval to acquire the Metro Plaza, Abuja, as its Headquarters
Tambuwal said that stakeholders advised the Federal Government to dialogue with Saudi Government over policy of allocating 50 per cent of Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi-designated air carrier.
According to him, the conference observes that the exchange rate of dollar was responsible for the high cost of 2017 hajj fares.
Tambuwal said the seminar recalled that the 2016 hajj financial transactions were based on the official dollar exchange rate of N197 to a dollar but the 2017 hajj fare was based on N305 to dollar.
He said that the conference recommended that the hajj and umrah sector should move immediately from analogue to full digital professional management.
The secretary said that seminar also recommended the development of software management system for hajj by absorbing all technological indices in hajj management.
Tambuwal also said that stakeholders at the conference stressed the need for adequate and coordinated data sharing among Nigerian stakeholders both at home and in Saudi Arabia.
“Similarly, the forum urged NAHCON to partner with Jaiz Bank to establish Hajj Saving Scheme without further delay with a view to boost revenue profile of the commission.
“ The commission should also pursue the establishment of an FM Hajj Radio Station to ensure proper control and dissemination of accurate enlightenment programmes for intending pilgrims.
“ The conference urges NAHCON to reactivate the Committee on Women Specail Needs in collaboration with the Muslim Women Organisations in the country.“
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference was organised under the Chairmanship of Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
It was supported by the Pioneer Executive Chairman of NAHCON and now FCT Minister, Alhaji Muhammed Bello, as well as other stakeholders in Hajj and Umrah industry across the country. (NAN) SSI/AFA