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Let’s find ways to achieve affordable hajj fare, NAHCON chairman charges Board, Mgt staff

Says: Hajj Saving Scheme will be launched in Sokoto, Lagos soon

We’ll professionalise hajj industry

By Haroon Balogun

The Chairman/CEO, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan has charged the Board members and management staff of the commission to find solution to translate the dreams and objectives the commission on affordable cost of Hajj into reality.

Alhaji Hassan gave the charge at a 3-day strategic retreat for Board members and Management staff of the commission currently ongoing in Yankari Games Resort, Bauchi State.

Declaring the retreat open, Alhaji Hassan also said that the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS) which was launched in Kano State in October 2020 will soon be launched in Sokoto, Lagos and other parts of the country, adding that the all the states have agreed to key into the Scheme.

The Chairman also stated that the Hajj Training Institute will soon take off as application had been made to the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for Accreditation and Licensing, disclosing that the commission has digitalised its activities, making it to be part of the global family.

Alhaji Hassan said: “Today marks an important milestone in the history of the Commission.

“This strategic retreat, therefore, provides an opportunity for participants to discuss and brainstorm on the emerging challenges arising from the dynamic operating environment of global economic meltdown.

“It is in the light of this that, for the first time, we have invited external stakeholders, especially, the operators in the Hajj to share their knowledge and experience with us.

“It is also a chance for us to look with new eyes alternative way of generating revenue without impacting negatively on the purse of pilgrims in the face of dwindling government revenue and the increasing Tax rates and service charge in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Therefore, this retreat must find solution to translate our dreams and objectives of affordable cost of Hajj into reality and no place and time is better than here and now.

The serene environment provided by Yankari Games Resort will afford us the opportunity to de-stress ourselves from the hustle and bustle of Abuja, and away from our usual daily routine.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, as we may be aware, the conduct of Hajj affairs in Nigeria has witnessed numerous challenges over the years. At some point in the past, payment of Hajj Fare does not necessarily guarantee an intending pilgrim will be able to travel to the Holy Land, while those who succeeded spent many days and hours at departure Centers. Some even get stranded and had to be evacuated by the Federal or State Government back home.

“One is however pleased that a lot of these challenges have been solved and eliminated from Nigerian Hajj lexicon and normalcy can be said to have returned. However, all hands must be on deck in order to ensure continuity of these achievements.

“On this note, I want to seize this opportunity to pay tributes to those men and women who have held the levers of Hajj Administration in the Country, especially the two immediate past Chairmen of the Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in persons of Alhaji Muhammad Musa Bello and Barr. Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad MON, FCIA whose dedications, selflessness’ and commitments led to many giant strides the Commission had achieved in the last decade.

“As you’re all aware, the year 2020 is an imaginary year which brought up unthinkable events/issues, globally and nationally. We will not forget in a hurry the horrible effect of Covid-19 pandemic which denied us and the entire Muslim World outside Saudi Arabia the opportunity to participate in the Pilgrimage this year. The psychological and financial effect on us will take time to properly heal.

“You may wish to recall that during our Inauguration, our Board unfolded a 5-point Mission Statement among which were to make Hajj Fare affordable for Nigerian Muslims; develop a plan of action by which Nigerian Pilgrims will spend lesser number of days in the Holy Land; implementation of Hajj Saving Schemes (HSS); take–off of the Hajj Training Institute and acquisition of property in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“To achieve these mandates effectively and efficiently, a vibrant and efficient workforce is needed. So, one the reasons we are here today is one way of achieving all these objectives.

“I am, however, pleased to state that a lot has been achieved so far in this direction. The Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS) was formally launched in Kano State on 4th October 2020 at the Hajj Demonstration Centre, Kano. It is heartwarming that all the states have agreed to key into the Scheme and very soon, the Scheme will be launched in Sokoto, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria. It is part of our determination to make sure that the scheme offers us the succor we desire in terms of reduction in Hajj Fare and other sundry benefits to the Pilgrims, Zakat for the Ummah and Tax revenue for the Government.

“Our effort to professionalize the Hajj Industry through the Hajj Training Institute is on course. We have tendered our application to the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for Accreditation and Licensing. We are determined to make sure that, the Institute takes off very soon.

The Board has also begun the journey towards holistic transformation of the Commission through staff motivation by way of striking to positively affect their remuneration and benefits in order to inject effectiveness and efficiency into our developmental planning.

“The Board has also commenced Digital transformation of our activities from manual to digital to enabled us to become part of the global family Much in the same way like our other objectives, we believe that we would have completed this feat before the expiration of our tenure.

“A bigger plank of our aim is to acquire a befitting edifice in Makkah, Saudi Arabia which will serve as our corporate office as well as revenue yielding investment just like our Corporate Headquarters in Abuja. We are quite aware of the enormous responsibility this would put on us, but I want to assure that with your support and cooperation, this Board will achieve that objective.

Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, as I declare this Retreat open, I want to encourage the participants to spare a thought and take positive steps to find solutions to our nagging problem of how to achieve affordable Hajj fare in the face of global gloom and inflation so that we can bring succor to our brothers and sisters who intend to perform Hajj in an atmosphere of ease and comfort.

It is now my honour and privilege to formally declare open the maiden ‘3 – Day Strategic Retreat’ in the name of Allah, the most Beneficent and most Merciful.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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This post first appeared on vanguardngr.com

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