In the of diplomacy and intergovernmental relations, successful visits and meetings are the lifeblood of effective governance and collaboration. One such notable achievement was witnessed recently when a delegation from the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, paid a visit to the 15th Vice President of Nigeria, His Excellency Kashim Shettima GCON in his office. The delegation’s visit was marked by excellent reception and, more importantly, the accomplishment of its intended objectives.
The visit of 30th August 2023 was the first official call on the Vice President since assumption of office and since relocation of NAHCON’s affairs to the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria (V-POFRON). It was therefore a familiarization visit from NAHCON. Interestingly though, the Vice President had already rescued the Commission from a crippling quagmire, few days after taking charge as NAHCON’s new overseer.
Quick reminder, at the heat of visa processing for outbound airlift of Muslim Pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, matters got tense between NAHCON and one of the country’s financial regulators when the latter in midway deserted transfer of pilgrims’ own foreign currencies to Saudi Arabia for further procurement of their visas. The prompt intervention of His Excellency, Kashim Shettima was the scepter that saved the scenario; he ordered immediate release of the pilgrims’ dully paid funds. From all indications, more of such episodes are in the waiting.
Only last week, the V-POFRON listened to NAHCON’s cry over yet again, the matter of foreign exchange due as residual payment to Hajj chartered airlines for their services during the Hajj exercise.
The NAHCON delegation, composed of distinguished members representing the organization’s interests and responsibilities, embarked on a visit to the Vice President with a clear and well-defined purpose, to brief his office on the Commission’s operations so far up to Hajj 2023 season, and to seek approval to carry on with 2024 Hajj preparations to curtail chances of Nigeria lagging behind. Expressly, Saudi Arabia had already indicated its plan to end visa issuance for next year’s Hajj no less than 40 days before Arafat. To wit, visa issuance would end by 29th of April 2024 while Arafat is estimated to fall on 15th June of the year.
This could be grave here in Nigeria where some remittances are only done one week to Arafat. A repeat of such dispositions automatically disqualifies affected pilgrims for the year’s exercise. Should that happen, some hostile publics that feed fat on quandaries would then deliberately spin corrosive opinions to throw at administrators in the Hajj House, despite knowing where the real problems lie. To this postulation, the honorable V-POFRON heartily agreed with sympathy towards the Commission.
It is evident that the primary goals of the visit were accomplished to the satisfaction of all parties involved. His Excellency, Kashim Shettima, listened with keen interest as the NAHCON Chief Executive Officer outlined challenges faced by the Commission to date plus his appeals for executive intervention over concerns such as Masha’ir feeding. To the relief of all, the V-OFRON revealed excellent understanding of the problems from his experience as one time State Executive Governor that steered Hajj affairs for his state pilgrims for eight consecutive years. H.E Shettima thereafter proposed a roadmap for collaborative further action while charging NAHCON to furnish his office with more details.
The success of the NAHCON delegation’s visit underscores the importance of diplomacy and engagement in contemporary governance. Such interactions provide a platform for discussing critical issues, addressing concerns, and seeking common ground on matters of national and international significance.
Achieving the objectives of such visits is essential for any government or organization, as it demonstrates efficiency, effectiveness, and commitment to their respective missions. In this case, NAHCON’s ability to meet its goals during the visit to Vice President Kashim Shettima reflects the organization’s dedication to its mandate and its capacity to engage constructively with key stakeholders.
Furthermore, the success of this visit serves as an example of the power of diplomacy and collaboration in fostering positive change.
The warm and welcoming atmosphere extended by Vice President Kashim Shettima and his team set a positive tone for the discussions that followed. Excellent reception often lays the foundation for productive dialogue and collaboration. It fosters an environment of mutual respect and understanding, which are vital elements in achieving any diplomatic or policy-related objectives. It highlights the value of open dialogue and the exchange of ideas in addressing complex challenges and achieving shared objectives.
As Nigeria continues to navigate its path forward, successes like this serve as beacons of hope and inspiration for a brighter future.
Usara is an Assistant Director with NAHCON
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