*Photo: Alhaji Hassan, NAHCON Chairman/CEO*
THE Saudi ministry of Hajj has announced the allocation of 95,000 Hajj seats to Nigeria in the forthcoming 2024 Hajj.
This was made known via a virtual meeting held between the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah today.
*Pictures from the virtual meeting between NAHCON AND Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, which took place today 19th September, 2023*
Mousa Ubandawaki, Deputy Director Information & Publications of NAHCON who gave the disclosure in a statement on Tuesday said
the meeting which officially marked the start of the 2024 Hajj was attended by the Chairman, House Committee on Hajj, Honorable Jafar Mohammed, representatives of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Abubakar Sani Bello as well as the Nigerian Consul-General in Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Bello Abdulkadir.
The high points of the discussion were that :
*Nigeria was expected to finalize all arrangements and negotiation with Service Providers including the Catering, Accommodation and Transportation within the next 120 days.
* NAHCON to submit the lists of Medical and other officials to the Kingdom very early as the Kingdom has plans to work with the two bodies very closely.
* Ensure that only Air Carriers with at least two Aircrafts on its fleet and a Back- up are appointed or allowed to participate in the 2024 Hajj operation.
Leading the the Saudi team, Dr Badr Mohammed Al- Somi urged the Commission to strive to meet up with the timeline in order to enable the Ministry make adequate plan and also avoid the experience and incidents witnessed in this year’s Hajj.
“We want all Hajj Missions to be proactive in meeting our time frame, so that we won’t allow what happened previously and also to give the missions sufficient time to examine the services before pilgrims’ arrival”.
Al- Talaheen promised that the refund sought by the Commission was being worked on and that as soon as the result of its investigative Committee is released, it would be acted upon accordingly.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan had called on the Saudi Authorities to expedite action on the refund of the feeding and tent services not provided in the Mashair.
He further reiterated the need for the Kingdom to disengage from the provision of feeding service in the Masha’ir and allow the country to take over Muna and Arafat to afford the Pilgrims opportunities to enjoy delicacies they were used to at home.
Meanwhile, the Chairman has sought for the support and assistance of the Ministry in securing the refund paid to the General Authority on Saudi Aviation (GACA) on behalf of the Nigerian Carriers in 2019.
Alhaji Hassan also called on the Ministry to review its decision by allowing Nigerian Pilgrims to depart through the King Abdul- Aziz International Airport Jeddah instead of Madina as that would create bottlenecks and logistics problems for the pilgrims.
In the same vein, the Commission appealed to the Saudi Ministry for the upward review of the number of Tour Operators/Companies to be allowed to conduct Hajj from 10 to 100 companies saying that much as the action will enable the Commission to organize the agencies for effective management and control, the sudden decision would seem to be too harsh.