Hajj 2020: The Countdown Begins

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“Where all thinks alike, none thinks very much” – – Walter Lippmann.

The above saying might have spurred the management of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), to the realization that if it must succeed in its endeavor, it must galvanize its staff and the entire Nigeria Hajj family to start preparation for the 2020 edition of the Holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

The commission begun to plot the route to achieving this goal with the management and Senior staff to fashion a road map towards organizing a successful Hajj against the backdrop of the implementation of Vision 2030 launched by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Ibn Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz bn Saudi in 2018.

The reason behind the idea was to ensured that everyone is on the same page for the tasks ahead as according to the Chairman /CEO of the Commission, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed, the executive board cannot do it alone just as one hand cannot make a clap. He said that only the cooperation and support of the staff can the commission achieve its mandate.

The Vision 2030 had envisioned and emphasized leverage on the Information Technology to provide the best and highest quality services in the Hajj industry.

Since planning is one of the key to success, the commission therefore began to roll out its programs of action with the Review Meeting of Hajj 2019 with Chief executives of State pilgrims welfare boards and their Tour Operator counterparts. The strategic meeting which is aimed at shaping and outline the strategies to be adopted for the 2020 Hajj. The outcome of that meeting of minds was that states should began collection of the 2020 Hajj Fare from prospective pilgrims as well as adoption of electronic registration of pilgrims.

Another important step which is also a milestone pointing in the direction of the Next Level Agenda of the commission management is the constitution and Inauguration of a 14-member committee to Pre-qualify Licensing of Service providers, especially the accommodation and feeding services in Makkah, Madina and Mashair.The event tagged as a watershed as it marked the first time the committee was created as early as this time and also in which the committee members will work at home. Giving a rationale for embarking on the historic event, the Chairman /CEO, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed, explained that he decided on the issue in order to save costs in line with the Federal Government’s policy of reducing the cost of Governance.

Another reason for the decision is that the committee is expected to work on line in compliance with the Saudi policy of leveraging on Information Technology. The committee members which comprises Chief executives of Zamfara, Oyo and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Pilgrims Welfare Boards representing the South West North Central and North West Zones and Senior Management staff of the Commission.

The which would siff application submitted online by applicants would not only save cost but would also eliminate the accusation of favoritism, bribery and corruption which often dogged the exercise every year. Amongst the other terms of reference is evaluation of documents submitted to ensure that it met the standards stipulated that the applicant companies possessed the capacity, capability and experience to deliver the service applied for. They must not have an Integrity Issue or record of non Performance. Neither must they have pending litigation in Saudi Arabia or with any of the state pilgrims welfare boards /agencies or NAHCON. The company must not be under Receivership or Administration and on top of those must have Saudi Authorization to provide or conduct such business or services.

While inaugurating the committee Barrister Abdullahi admonished them to shun acts that will jeopardize the set standard of the commission and must conduct the assignment transparently without fear or favor.

However, the stamp and seal of authority to commence the preparation for the 2020 Hajj would be given in early December when the commission in company of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, state pilgrims board officials would converge in Saudi Arabia to sign the annual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Saudi government Ministry of Hajj to formally conferred on the commission the rights and privilege to commence preparation. Even though the arrangements may have been informally signed and sealed with the pre – talk that had been done in recent months.

All of these are the good music that many Nigerians are won’t to hear especially the MOU which would signify the number of pilgrims allocation to Nigeria as well as getting to know the policy that will be adopted by the Saudi government for the 2020 Hajj exercise.

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