The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) says it has completed sixty percent (60%) of its preparation for the 2024 Hajj exercise and there is no cause for alarm.
The agency stated this in response to report in a national newspaper on Saturday suggesting that the exercise may have ran into a hitch.
In a statement signed by Fatima Sanda Usara,Assistant Director, with the title Re: “NAHCON In Dilemma As Low Turnout Threatens 2024 Hajj Preparations, the pilgrims body said “The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria acknowledges Media Trust’s interest and concern in the story published in its Saturday Trust paper of December 30, 2023. Media Trust, known for balanced reporting through the Trust papers, has built a reputable name.
“The story titled “NAHCON In Dilemma As Low Turnout Threatens 2024 Hajj Preparations” raised concerns about the upcoming pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. However, NAHCON has made its stance clear on the 2024 Hajj registration in various forums attended by the Commission’s Chairman, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi.
“Appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on October 17, 2023, Malam Arabi had been emphasizing that NAHCON is prepared to work with any number of registered pilgrims able to pay the N4.5 million Hajj deposit by the December 31 deadline. He assured that the fare would not exceed the deposit if not reduced. The Chairman consistently stressed the importance of timely arrangements to protect interest of those who have sacrificed and paid their deposits so that their chances would not be jeopardized by late remittance. He had therefore urged State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards. as state-level Hajj managers, to remit deposits promptly.
“While some of the managers called for a deadline extension due to farmers awaiting harvest, others were optimistic about last-minute payments from businesspersons. Malam Arabi’s rationale centered on fairness and action in the interest of those who have paid.
“Similarly, to address procrastination, and give equal chance to those who might have not known the consequences, NAHCON collaborated with state welfare boards for sensitization campaigns on the risks of delaying payment as the deadline for Hajj this year has changed from the normal.
“Contrary to the notion of a dilemma, NAHCON has completed 60% of its Hajj preparations. The challenge lies in determining the exact number of those who have paid the Hajj fares, justifying the Commission’s advocacy for the adoption of the Hajj Savings Scheme for better control and planning. This system would allow NAHCON and each state to track number of intending pilgrims eligible for the Hajj season, project balances, and streamline preparations efficiently.
“NAHCON is aware of the challenges faced by State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards and intending pilgrims. It is noteworthy that the Commission has not yet announced the final Hajj fare for the 2024 Hajj, providing a potential opportunity for many pilgrims to initiate or finalize their payments.
“In addressing concerns about the timing of slot allocation to Private Tour Operators, it is important to clarify that the allocation of slots to the tour operators has no connection to the 31st December Hajj remittance deadline. While the suspension may have changed the allocation timeline, it does not affect the final payment to the Operators.
“It is crucial to understand that the earlier suspension of approved companies by NAHCON was solely due to grievances from non-selected entities. The Commission remains committed to transparency and fairness in the allocation process which is significant in establishing trust, a cornerstone for cooperation that will ensure a smooth and efficient Hajj preparation.
“While NAHCON thanks the said media for its continued support, we encourage stakeholders and the public to seek accurate information and reach out to us for balanced perspectives and clarification as we strive to maintain open communication and transparency in our operations.”