43,000 Nigeria pilgrims slated to perform 2022 Hajj
The Chairman/CEO, of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, has assured Nigerians that all his proactive Hajj reforms in the commission would be institutionalised before the expiration of his tenure.
Hassan stated this while delivering a lecture entitled, “‘Hajj operations in Nigeria and the challenges for the Muslim Ummah” on an online platform, “No Dull Moment In Islam”.
The NAHCON boss who traced the history of Hajj administration in Nigeria to the 50s said the lack of legal framework and political will of successive helmsmen accounted for policy somersault over the years.
He said one of the major reforms of the commission was the launching of the Hajj Saving Scheme (HSS) on October 4, 2020, with JAIZ Bank in line with global practices and to ease the performance of hajj for every Nigerian.
Though the scheme is being condemned because of alleged corruption and lack of transparency in its operations, he said it has come to stay.
“It would interest Nigerians to know that each subscriber to the scheme receives a monthly update on his/her deposits detailing whatever profit accrues to it. Pilgrims on the HSS monitor their accounts directly from their phones if they wish.
“Besides, NAHCON had constantly given progress reports to State Welfare Boards on the performance of the scheme, the most recent being in March 2022, when the Commission released details of profit distribution to each of the state boards. Dividends were shared to the states with the details forwarded to them,” he said.
Hassan said the concern of major stakeholders was the fact that nobody has benefited from the scheme to perform hajj due to COVID-19 restrictions, which had prevented the performance of hajj rites for two consecutive years.
He said the savings scheme and other reforms carried out by the Commission are being gazetted into law so that those coming behind would consolidate on it as against eradicating the policies.
He assured all pilgrims who had contributed not to panic as their savings are well secured and the first batch will use them to perform the 2022 hajj.
He, however, said the Commission has not come up with the actual amount to be paid or balanced up for 2022 hajj operations due to the fluctuations in the rate of the Naira to the Dollar in the foreign exchange market.
The Hajj fare, which he hinted maybe a little bit higher than the amount charged in 2019, was also due to some new policies by the Saudi Arabia Hajj authorities.
He said underage children as well as adults more than 65 years of age would not be allowed to perform the pilgrimage.
On selection of various Hajj welfare committees such as Ulama, media and medical, he assured Nigerians that the Commission would be fair and just to all concerned and ensure a transparent process.
Hassan appealed to Nigerians with useful ideas to come forward with it and assist the Commission to improve on its various reforms.
About 43,000 Nigerian pilgrims are slated to perform the 2022 Hajj exercise out of the over one million pilgrims approved by Saudi Arabia authorities for this year.