The Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Refund

by admin




THE recent refund of the sum of 542,033 Saudi Riyals (about N107 million) to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a lesson in moral humility and taking responsibility for one’s actions, and we earnestly commend it to the Nigerian authorities.


In the aftermath of the poor treatment that it claimed had been meted to Nigerian pilgrims to the Holy Land, particularly during the five-day peak period of the 2022 Hajj, NAHCON had petitioned the company responsible for services to pilgrims from African non-Arab countries. Specifically, the commission had brought up the quality of food provided to affected Nigerian pilgrims, which it claimed was grossly inadequate. Last week, NAHCON’s dogged pursuit of justice for the pilgrims paid off when it received a letter signed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company of Mutawwifs for Pilgrims from African Non-Arab Countries, Dr. Ahmad Bin Abbas Sindi, accepting responsibility for the poor quality of service and refunding the aforementioned sum of money “for services not rendered or poorly delivered.


Some might cavil, and perhaps rightly, that in the grand scheme of things there is really nothing to see here, and that the Saudi authorities only did what might have been expected of them. After all, isn’t that what you would expect a self-respecting entity (official or corporate) to do, that is, offer a refund for services not rendered? While this may be true, we find it significant and refreshing that the company did accept responsibility. In our book, this is more important than the financial compensation paid out to NAHCON. It speaks to a fundamental honesty and humility that is increasingly rare in today’s world.


To fully appreciate what the Saudi authorities have just done, one could imagine a hypothetical situation in which roles were reversed between them and NAHCON. Would NAHCON have accepted responsibility and taken the additional step of offering financial compensation? We have our doubts. The problem we are flagging here goes beyond NAHCON; the painful truth is that in Nigeria, customers typically hold the short end of the stick in everyday transactions with corporate and governmental bodies, and customer service is, let’s face it, an oxymoron. There is something to learn from this episode by all of us—about being humble enough to accept responsibility whenever we are at fault, and treating others with the same courtesy with which we expect to be treated.


We commend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the company for the responsible response and wish to state that this is how a serious and responsive provider should respond to complaints about services. We hope that NAHCON itself and other Nigerian companies will borrow a leaf from this example and begin to treat their customers with respect and dignified response whenever they make complaints.


This can only enhance their business by guaranteeing customers’ continued patronage. It is the only way to be in the good books of customers and thus have a sustainable business.



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