Abubakar Ahmadu Maishanu
The Chairman of the National Hajj Commission, (NAHCON) Zikrullah Hassan, on Wednesday, said part of the transformation he would strive to achieve while at helm is reducing the number of days Nigerian pilgrims spend in Saudi Arabia during Hajj.
Mr Hassan stated this in Jigawa state during a familiarization visit to governor Muhammad Badaru and the people of Jigawa state following his appointment as the Chairman of the Commission .
Muslim pilgrims across the world perform Hajj rituals annually in Saudi Arabia.
The rituals usually begin on the 8th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah in the Islamic Calendar.
The pilgrims usually spend five to six days undertaking a series of rites in Makkah, Mina and the plains of Arafat.
The NAHCON boss said these series of rituals do not have to keep the pilgrims longer than necessary. He said most pilgrims get exhausted and often desperate to return home.
He said “we think that time spent in Saudi Arabia is to be reduced, we didn’t think those who has financial challenges should spend 40 to 45 days in Saudi Arabia for a rite that is not more than five days”
“These are challenges we should necessarily overcome, we are not saying that pilgrims can spend five days, however, we most find a way to reduce the days pilgrims spent in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Also, the official said while at the helm of affairs, he intends to ensure the affordability of Hajj for disadvantaged groups. He also pledge total digital transformation of the commission to be one of the best managed organizations in the entire universe.
He added that Nigeria is the fifth-largest contingent of Hajj in the world after Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, undoubtedly, the largest in Africa.
” While we cannot do anything about being the fifth largest, we intend to be the best managed and make Hajj affordable for the under privileged person because the cost of Hajj is enormous.
“The government will always want to intervene at different strata but the government contends with many challenges in providing social infrastructure,
“To manage affordable Hajj, we are devising a strategy called Hajj saving scheme, where intending pilgrims can gradually save for up to five years without ruining their businesses because they plan to go for Hajj,” Alhaji Hassan said.