BY MOUSA UBANDAWAKI
For some time, there has been no sense of fun or enjoyment around the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON); Headquarters, its zonal or outreach centers nor even the Muslims Board offices across the states of the federation due to the suspension of Hajj and Umrah activities by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2020. But all that have started to change with the lifting of the suspension and subsequent confirmation to open Hajj for foreign pilgrims this year.
Everyone is now enthused, first with official communication of Hajj Operation for foreign #pilgrims, then the release of 43,008 Hajj seats to the country and guidelines later by the Royal kingdom Ministry of Hajj affairs, thereby bringing a bolt of excitement to the Hajj family in Nigeria.
The lifting of suspension of Umrah and Hajj to foreign pilgrims, Nigerians inclusive, have brought a breath of fresh air to the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria in place of the gloom and upheaval that had reigned in the last two years. The forth coming Hajj therefore will give no one place to hide, especially the executive Board of the commission who since their inauguration in February, 2020 have not had the opportunity to really showcase what they can do, like a kid on the block they looked back on the pages of history and decided to organize a debrief from the members of the various committees who actively participated in the in the 2019 Hajj with a view to examine the areas of success and challenges they might likely face this year and the solutions to counter them in fulfillment of the age long trite “If you don’t know where you are going, at least one must know where he/she is coming from”.
It is the belief that with the de-briefing, those staff will be leaving, a key under the door mat that can unlock success at NAHCON for years to come.
In realizing these objectives the commission has instituted and reinvigorated some but all the standing committees. First was the National Medical team (NMT) which had as its terms of reference, implementation of operational strategies to promote team work and synergy, identification of clinics to be used in Makah, test running the EMR and ensuring that it is integrated into the commission’s ICT framework, screening and orientation of the National Medical Team and procurement of visa for the advance team in time to accompany the pilgrims on the inaugural flight to Saudi Arabia.
The Chairman/CEO, Alhaji Zikirullah Kunle Hassan, expressed confidence in the ability of the committee members to discharge their duties efficiently however, he tasked them to make team work their watch word and to place the interest of Nigerian Pilgrims above any personal or group interest saying their major interest was to serve only the guests of Allah.
In the same vein, The Commissioner In charge Of Planning, Research, Statistic, Information And Library Service (PRSILS) Sheikh Suleiman Momoh, assured the committee of non-interference by the commission, and enjoined them to eschew bickering in order to achieve positive results and success.
The Coordinator and Chairperson of the Committee Pharmacists Zainab Ujudud Sharif, thanked the management for the privilege accorded her to serve on the team. She assured that the team would work assiduously in line with their terms of reference to achieve successful Hajj operations.
In the same vein, the committee on the screening of Hajj carriers and cargo companies was instituted.
At the Inauguration, the committee was tasked with the diligent, transparent screening of airlines that would participate in the airlift of pilgrims and their luggage during the 2022 Hajj operations. The committee, made up of professionals from the Aviation Sector and Agencies in the Country includes NAHCON’s Commissioner, Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa as Chairman, Screening Committee, Engr. Suleiman Nasir Akwoh and Lawan Isa Bubaram of NCAA, Umar Madu Bah of ICPC, Umar Makun Lapai, Executive Secretary Niger State, Dr. Ismaila Okudaye, Executive Secretary Delta State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Nasidi Yahya Suleiman of AHOUN and NAHCON Staff.
The Committee has the Mandate to screen air carriers ensuring that they have the documentation, competency, reliability, and safe and secure fleet of planes that would airlift pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia for Hajj in line with civil aviation standards. They are also mandated to negotiate with the carriers concerns on the price of airfare and recommend the airlines that have favorable price in the interest of the pilgrims. The Committee are also responsible for the screening of cargo companies that would transport and secure the luggage and properties of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia to Nigeria.
The recommendations from the Committee will aid the NAHCON Management in picking air carriers for the 2022 Hajj and also one of the components that will help determine the final cost of Hajj Fare.
Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, Commissioner, Operations in his remarks as Chairman of the Committee thanked the Chairman/CEO for the opportunity given them to serve and the confidence reposed to deliver results. He made it known that the screening exercise was a continuation of what had started in preparation for the 2020 Hajj operations before Saudi Arabia announced that Hajj for that would be for domestic residents of the kingdom . The thanked his team who he stated have covered a lot of ground by working through the night in some instances on the submissions of applicants. He thanked them for their diligence and sacrifice.
Alhaji Hardawa assured that his committee would ensure that only airline that would ensure the prompt airlift and safety of the pilgrims would be recommended for approval.
In the quest to make this year’s Hajj safe, effective and efficient, the commission has literally shifted its operations to the Ummul Jud office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where extensive negotiation monitoring and supervision of the facilities that would be used by intending pilgrims during the forthcoming Hajj is taking place.
Therefore, as the commission rev up its engine for the start of 2022 Hajj, it is important that all Stakeholder involved in the exercise must not only work hand – in – hand as a team but must also have both internal and external faith in achieving the best.
Assistant Director Ubandawaki,
Information and Publication Division, NAHCON Abuja.