Address by the Chairman/CEO of National Hajj Commission Of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alh. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan at the launch of Hajj Savings Scheme in Lagos at Marque Hall Radio Lagos on Sunday, 20th December, 2020.
*NAHCON Chairman giving his address of welcome *
On the 4th October, 2020, we officially launched the Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS), in Kano, Northwest, Nigeria, which was the first time in the life of an African nation. Now, we are here this morning to launch the Scheme in Lagos to crown a climactic week of Sensitization programs in which our team have transversed the length and breadth of the Southwest region which began in Osogbo, Osun state on will hold soon.
* A cross section of the audience *
The choice of Lagos for launching of scheme is not a mere coincidence but a decision deliberately taken because of the historic and special status of Lagos as the first departure center in the Southern Nigeria for the airlift of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. The second reason is its role as the Centre of commerce and hosts of largest concentration of prospective pilgrims in Southern Nigeria many of who are in search of dependable and comfortable payment option. As we mark today’s milestone I wish to commend all the states Muslim pilgrim welfare officials for their dedication and hard work in always trying to find common ground and arriving at implementable solutions on issues that concerns hajj management. On this note I wish to particularly commend the Lagos state Muslim pilgrim officials for particularly putting up today’s event at a very short notice.
You may wish to recall that on our inauguration, I made a solemn pledge to Nigerians that the new board shall strive to make Hajj affordable for the average Nigerian Muslims to enable them make the journey of a life time to the Holy land of Makkah. Therefore the event of today is not only a testament to our resolve but also a bid to drive that ambition. It needs worth reiterating that the introduction of Hajj Savings Scheme is one of our strategic move to achieve the desire as enshrined in our establishment Act Section 7 sub section (1)which empowers us to “establish, supervise and regulate a system of Hajj Savings Scheme to be operated by the Pilgrims Welfare Board of each state and FCT for interested pilgrims”.
Therefore, the event of today is the fulfillment of our mandate using the JAIZ Bank PLC for the takeoff of the Hajj Savings Scheme. The new system will operate concurrently with what we have known as “Pay As You Go” at transitional period. However payments made by 2020 intending pilgrims will remain with State Pilgrims welfare boards and they will be given priority. ” You will recall that on 10th September, 2020 I signed an operating agreement with our partner JAIZ Bank in Abuja to kick start the program.
This Bank led option was designed and developed as a stop gap for the full blown Hajj Savings Scheme pending the conclusion of administrative and organizational structure towards obtaining operating license from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It is very important to say the reason for the choice of the bank.. For about a decade, it has been working on our behalf to develop and provide framework for integrating old payment system with modern day service, so as to improve our Hajj system. They have been discharging those duties selflessly and with utmost integrity.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the operationalization of the Hajj Savings Scheme is a historic milestone in our long walk towards self-financing that will wean us from depending on the scarce government resources which can be utilized for provision of infrastructure and other social services in the country.
At the core of the Scheme is a developmental approach that seeks to liberalize payment, build value chains and overcome the infrastructure deficit. We reaffirm our optimism that Hajj Savings Scheme will leverage on these opportunities. It will also address the issue of poverty inequality the country. It will also set off a chain of benefits and domino effects in the following ways.
1. Protect intending pilgrims against potential fraudsters as you know the traditional savings methods mostly in use in rural areas is fraught with lots of risks and hardship from marauders and thieves.
2. Intending pilgrims no longer need to sell off or dispose their properties or life savings to fulfill their religious obligation to the holy land.
3. Provide reliable and accurate data for effective and efficient service delivery.
4. Enhance advance planning for accommodation, feeding and airlift operation
5. Strengthen the economic capacity of contributors
6. Offers subsidy and a great opportunity to reduce the cost Hajj.
7. Job creation through pockets of portfolio investment
8. Aligned the country’s Hajj system to global standard.
9. Boost the country’s GDP and providing economic power to the citizens.
This novel scheme also gives intending pilgrims /depositors various options in which they can participate or be enrolled through any of the following methods:
11. Enrollment through the State pilgrims welfare boards /Agencies /Commissions. 2. Enrolment can be through any JAIZ Bank outlet or through the Hajj Savings App, although all cases subscribers must indicate in their form what state in the country through which they intend to make the journey. 3. Bulk payment or usual Pay As You Go through the private Tour Operators remains. With the launching today, we are now at the end of the first phase of our mission but our work is far from over. There’s still much work to be done. Let’s not falter and let us not tire, for the prize is within our reach. Let us in the same spirit of unity and solidarity take forward the operationalization of the Hajj Savings Scheme. I want assure the Nigerian prospective pilgrims subscribers of proper supervision of their Savings and maintenance of a queuing process through information technology that ensures a first come first serve basis.
On this note, I want to appeal to all the stakeholders that the emerging success requires all the Government, traditional and religious leaders Muslim activists, public commentators and our friends in the media to assist us in enlightening our Muslim community on the need to embrace the scheme to enjoy the enormous accruable benefit therefrom. In other words it’s not yet uhuru thus no rest, we can only rest, when we have achieved what we set out to do I thank you all for your attendance and for all those who made this ocassion of the launch possible., especially the Governor and good people of Lagos state for being a wonderful host. Our father, Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Dawd Shittu Noibi, OBE, Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, President, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN).
The various notable clerics here present, the distinguished leaders of Muslim communities and societies, people and organisations too numerous to mention. I wish you all a safe stay in Lagos and a safe journey back to your respective destinations Thank you and God bless