The Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, has reiterated the commission’s commitment to making hajj exercise affordable to prospective pilgrims.
Hassan stated this on Sunday in Ibadan during a special prayer, organised in his honour by the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) over his appointment as NAHCON chairman.
He said that the introduction of Hajj Savings Scheme, Hajj Training Institute and the digitalisation of hajj operations were all aimed at making hajj operations affordable and shortening the time spent on hajj tours.
Hassan expressed concern over what he called frequent increase in hajj fares, saying that this could make it more difficult for people to go on pilgrimage.
According to him, it may further result in the commission not being able to exhaust the quota allocated to Nigeria by the Saudi Arabian government.
The NAHCON chairman, however, said that the introduction of hajj savings scheme would help to address the challenges, thus increasing the number of people performing the exercise.
“The concept of hajj savings scheme is to encourage savings among intending pilgrims over a period of two to five years, until they are able to get to the amount required for hajj.
“The money will be turned into investment through our partnership with Jaiz Bank and the intending pilgrims are entitled to increase in their holdings in the bank through profits,” Hassan said.
The chairman said it was time to consider government’s financial intervention in hajj operations as no longer necessary.
According to him, the commission is already looking inwards to increase its internally-generated revenue (IGR), adding that government’s finances have competing interests.
“Let us free government from financial involvement in hajj operations; It can provide logistics for the exercise but not sponsoring people to hajj,” he said.
In his address, the MUSWEN President, Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, called on Muslims in the zone and across the country to support the chairman and avoid distracting him with selfish and frivolous demands.
Oladejo said that the position of the chairman, now being occupied by one of them from the zone, should be considered as Allah’s corporate mercy, which must not be turned into individual benefits.
“Our brother, Zikrullah Hassan, needs our full cooperation in terms of well wishes and sincere prayers.
“His assignment in NAHCON is national, Islamic and corporate. We should not frivolously distract his attention with selfish demands.
“Any success or failure in that office during his tenure is a major scale by which MUSWEN will be weighed by posterity,” said the president.
Oladejo, however, advised Hassan to always give careful consideration to any piece of advice given to him in order to decide wisely.
This, he said, had become necessary in view of the sensitive position he is occupying.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the special prayer was led by the Chief Imam of the University of Ibadan (UI), Prof. Oloyede AbdulRahmon.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included Alhaji Jabbar Ajibola, Chairman, Board of Trustees of MUSWEN; Prof. Muslih Yahya, the Executive Secretary of MUSWEN; Prof. Daud Noibi and Prof. Lateefat Durosimi, among others. (NAN)