. As NAHCON Reels Out Achievements
By Taofeek Lawal, Abuja
His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has advised the Federal Government to begin the gradual process of withdrawing from Hajj issues as practiced in some countries around the world especially in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Sultan who is also the President General of the Nigerian Supreme of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) made the remarks when he paid a historic visit to the Hajj House, the headquarters of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in Abuja.
Abubakar, who expressed happiness that NAHCON was moving towards being self reliant through the introduction of the Hajj Saving Scheme (HSS), said it has become imperative for the national hajj body to be independent of government funding while adding that he had always maintained his stand on the issue yearly whenever Hajj report was being submitted to the Federal Government. The Amir Muslim nonetheless called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fashion out a way with the Nigerian Muslim community on how to achieve NAHCON’s self sustainability. He added that with the money being realised from hajj operations annually, it is only a matter of time for NAHCON to be free of government funding.
He said, “I am happy that NAHCON is trying to be self-reliant which will make the Federal Government hands-off Hajj issues like it’s being done in Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries. Whenever we submitted Hajj reports, I always told former President Goodluck Jonathan that the Federal Government shall hands-off Hajj issue. We want the CBN to work with us in this regard.”
The monarch advised the 4th NAHCON board led by its current Chairman/CEO, Alhaji Dhikrullah Kunle Hassan, not to relent in their efforts to take the Hajj Commission to higher heights while commending the present board for consolidating on the gains achieved by the 3rd board led by the immediate past chairman, Barrister Abdullahi Muhammad Mukhtar.
He charged the staff members to give the necessary support to the current chairman to have a successful tenure and called on every Muslim to behave in accordance with the Islamic injunctions as practiced by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and as laid down by Almighty Allah (SWT)
The NAHCON boss, Zikrullah Hassan, in his speech described the Sultan’s visit as historic and said his board mission statement include among others; develop a plan of action by which Nigerian pilgrims will spend lesser number of days in Saudi Arabia, making hajj fare affordable to every Nigerian Muslim, the implementation of the Hajj Saving Scheme (HSS), the take off of the Hajj Training Institute (HTI) which he described as part of efforts to professionalise the Hajj Industry. He said the HTI which is expected to take off before the end of the year is already before National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for accreditation and licensing.
Hassan said the HSS when started will afford the commission a window for long term planning in terms of arrangements with carriers, accommodation and other service providers while he also added that the scheme shall ease hajj enrolment for Nigerian pilgrims such that even the poorest among Muslims can afford to fulfil a lifetime ambition to perform Hajj through gradual savings.
“We have resolved to intensify drive for internally generated revenue (IGR) through the facilitation of Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for public private partnership (PPP) to develop some of our hajj camps and its landed properties so that they can become busy throughout the year instead of only during hajj periods,” the NAHCON chairman said.