Hajj: Shettima applauds NAHCON, calls for improvement in pilgrims’ welfare, education

Despite the difficulties the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) faced, the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, applaud the hajj body for a successful 2023 hajj operations.

Shettima made the remark on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where he was briefed by the NAHCON management, which was led by its chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan.

Shettima was quoted as saying the following in a statement by the Office of the Vice President’s Director of Information, Olusola Abiola: “We have to offer praises to Allah for the successful conduct of 2023 hajj, in spite of harsh conditions faced by people in the Saudi Arabia occasioned by the climate change and other factors. The temperature rose to unimaginable level, though Nigeria was not the only country affected by the effect of the climate change.”

The Vice President asked the commission to “learn lessons from the last hajj operations and gird our loins and make efforts to address all the shortcomings in the upcoming hajj operations” while expressing sympathy to the families of the 29 pilgrims who died during the 2023 hajj.

Shettima stated that the wellbeing of the pilgrims is at the core of the trip and as such, the commission must give it the attention it deserves while speaking about the welfare of the 95,000 pilgrims who completed hajj last (Hijrah calendar) year.

While emphasizing that even if it is a spiritual activity, the commission must not disregard the wellbeing of pilgrims during their time in the holy land, he recommended the management to make enough preparations to take care of the pilgrims.

He stressed the importance of creating a strong mechanism to lessen the difficulties that the populace encountered, saying that “it is absolutely essential that we review this mechanism and make it practical and effective to give us maximum success in managing the hajj operations from year to year.”

The vice president advised the management to be proactive as it made preparations for the future, saying: “You have to rigorously review your exchange rate and come up with a much more acceptable figure.” This was in response to the issue of the exchange rate volatility on the commission’s finances, which was brought on by the unification of the various forex windows.

According to report, he further advised the NAHCON management on the need to educate pilgrims on their rights in the holy land by making use of the social media platforms and other traditional media to “enhance your visibility.”

Similarly, the Vice President also commended the commission on the various initiatives to further enhance its activities especially the launching of Hajj Savings’ Scheme, the Hajj Institute of Nigeria and Public Private Partnership Arrangements for Kano, Lagos, Maiduguri and Ilorin Projects.

Alhaji Hassan during his briefing noted that last years’s hajj was successful largely due to the prompt airlift of pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the provisions of accommodation to pilgrims, feeding and efficient medical services at all phases of the hajj activities.

In addition, the chairman was accompanied by the Commissioner in charge of Policy, Personnel, Management and Finance (PPMF), Alhaji Nura Hassan Yakassai; Commissioner in charge of Operations and Licensing, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa; Commissioner in charge of Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library Services (PRSILS), Sheikh Suleman Momoh; Secretary of the Commission, Dr Rabiu Kontagora and other management staff of the commission.

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