NAHCON says it may use veto power if tour operators fail  to agree on service provider

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*Photo: Mallam Jalal Ahmad Arabi, NAHCON Chairman (middle) during a meeting with tour operators on Friday in Abuja *

*Some tour operators at the meeting *

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Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Mallam Jalal Ahmad Arabi has warned that the agency reserves the right to exercise its veto power to select a service provider for private tour operators in the absence of a unified stance by them.

He gave the warning at Hajj House, Abuja on Friday, during a meeting with members of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators in Nigeria (AHUON).

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Hajia Fatima Sanda Usara,
Assistant Director, Public Affairs,
NAHCON said in a press release that the meeting was convened over disagreement by members of the group on the choice of Saudi Arabia service provider for the forthcoming Hajj.

According to Hajia Usara,
“In response to recent developments emerging from the Private Tour Operators sector of Nigerian Hajj industry, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) held a crucial meeting with Private Tour Operators today, Friday 26th January 2024 in its Hajj House headquarters in Abuja. Participants at the meeting were drawn from operators under the aegis of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators in Nigeria (AHUON) inclusive of the 40 Hajj travel agencies approved by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to operate in the coming pilgrimage.

“The backdrop of the meeting was the divergence in decisions among tour operators regarding their choice of a service provider, Mu’assasa, to work with during the forthcoming 2024 Hajj operations in Saudi Arabia.

“It would be recalled that leadership of AHOUN requested for an opportunity to scout for alternative service providers due to the liberalization of the sector by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. NAHCON had approved the alternative selection pending approval of the Commission after thorough vetting of draft agreements submitted to NAHCON and after thorough consultation with AHOUN members by their leadership in order to carry their members along. These milestones had not been reached when dissenting voices began to re-echo.

“During the meeting, NAHCON Chairman, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi, emphasized the importance of unity in decision-making among the tour operators to ensure a streamlined and effective process for Hajj operations. Acknowledging the potential challenges arising from varied choices, NAHCON advised the travel agents to deliberate and reach a collective decision.

“The Chairman highlighted that, in the absence of a unified stance among the travel operators, NAHCON reserves the right to exercise its veto power to select a service provider that aligns with the overall interest and objectives of the Nigerian Hajj mission, as the body recognized by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when issues go wrong.

“This call for a unified stand, according to Malam Arabi is to prevent unnecessary distractions during Hajj operations when there would be so much operational pressures coming from various legitimate interests. The meeting comes from NAHCON’s commitment to a cohesive and well-coordinated approach before embarking on the sacred journey of Hajj.

“AHOUN leadership is expected to meet with its members privately and report to the Commission on its decision.”

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