Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has urged stakeholders in the Hajj industry to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims get commensurate value for their money.
The National Coordinator of the CSO, Mr Ibrahim Muhammed, gave the task when he led a delegation of Hajj reporters on a visit to Alhaji Zikirullahi Hassan, the Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Thursday in Abuja.
IHR monitors and reports Hajj and Umrah operations as well as advice on best practices towards improving the pilgrimage.
He said the CSO would continue to pursue its pilgrim-centric policy, “even though it is not always that Hajj stakeholders in Nigeria find our interventions palatable.
“This is only natural. The fundamental objective is to ensure the best value for the Nigerian pilgrim”.
Muhammed stated that the group, which was a platform for all Muslim journalists willing to contribute their quota in the areas of pilgrims enlightenment, had a bequeathed responsibility of performing oversight functions.
He explained that parts of the organisation’s noble objectives includes redefining the art of Hajj information dissemination; deconstructing Hajj policies with a view to offer realistic and constructive criticisms.
“And hold Hajj stakeholders accountable to ensure that pilgrims get commensurate value for their money; and create a robust platform for healthy debate that will assist in ensuring a hitch-free Hajj operation in Nigeria.”
Muhammed assured that the CSO would continue to draw the attention of all Hajj regulators, administrators, service providers and other relevant bodies to areas that require immediate interventions.
Responding, Hassan disclosed that Nigeria would be a hajj reference point in the world in the next 10 years.
The NAHCON boss acknowledged the CSO’s support towards ensuring successful Hajj over the years.
Hassan, however, noted that Hajj operation was a sensitive issue that requires vigilance in the nature of information that was disseminated to the public.
He said the commission’s goal was to become a Hajj e-machine, where with a touch of a bottom, you get things done easily.
He said NAHCON has recorded successes in transforming Hajj operations in the country.
“You can only appreciate that when you take a look at Hajj operations before and after the birth of NAHCON,” he said.
Hassan stated that the commission had introduced Hajj Saving Scheme to provide opportunity for the masses across the country to save for their religious rite.
The NAHCON chairman said that the commission’s proposed Hajj Institute was meant to improve the capacity of all Hajj stakeholders, including regulators, administrators, service providers and tour operators.
In attendance were the executive members of the IHR, the board and management staff of the commission.