By Maryam Garba Hassan
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria’s (NAHCON) efforts to reduce the cost of Hajj fare has received a major boost from accommodation and catering service providers in Saudi Arabia, following their pledge to support the move by bringing down the prices of their services.
A statement issued by the Deputy Director, Information and Publications of the commission, Fatima Muhammed Mustapha, stated that the group expressed their support during a visit to the NAHCON office in Makkah recently.
It said the group was in support of the Commission’s effort, pointing out that a reduction in the prices would increase the number of intending pilgrims from Nigeria.
The statement further said the group affirmed their genuine desire to work harmoniously with the current board to ensure that Nigerian pilgrims pay less for the same quality of services rendered in the past.
Earlier, Chairman of the Commission, Barr. Zikrillah Kunle Hassan, while addressing the group, calls for concerted effort from the stakeholders to unite in achieving the objectives of reducing Hajj fare and uplifting the welfare of Nigerian pilgrims, the statement added.
He said the resolve of the board to reduce the 2020 Hajj fare was consistent with the yearnings and aspiration of Nigeria’s government and people.
“Our board intend to achieve at least 10percent reduction and to match reality with expectations. Our board and the entire staff of the commission has adopted this single declaration. Therefore, we are all committed to achieving the declaration” he said.
Hassan further stated that the Commission would ensure that both the pilgrims and the service providers would be better and happy if that is achieved as it would guarantee higher turn out of pilgrims with attendant profit for them.
“I am here to ensure that you and the pilgrims are happy this year and even in the future by accepting to reduce the amount on accommodation and other services. We therefore need your support to do this”, he added.
According to the statement, speaking in the same vein, the Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Mohammed Bulkachuwa, commended the Commission’s decision and expressed the parliament’s full support for the effort. “We are proud of NAHCON. We know that all eyes are on you now from both the Government and the people, especially with the change of baton of leadership of the commission. The expectations are very high but be assured that the Senate is solidly behind you in this task. Whatever may be your obstacle, we are ready to assist you to surmount it if not for anything but for the sake of Allah “.
Speaking on behalf of the Forum of State Chairmen and Secretaries, Alh Sarkin Pawa who also doubled as the Chairman of Zamfara pilgrims Welfare Board said the forum shared the ideal of the commission to ensure the utilization of Hajj slot allocated to Nigeria.
“We are fully behind the aspiration of NAHCON and we will back them to the hilt. Both of us are like siamese twins, whatever is good for one is good for another”, he said.
The Chairman of Shuraka Khair Group who is also a major player in the service industry, Musa Hamid, echoed similar sentiment with a pledge to support the initiative of the Commission to drive down the price of in the 2020 Hajj.
The commission also got same support and assistance from the Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj in Makkah, the Chairman of Muttawif of African Non-Arab Countries, the Adilla Establishment in Madina and the Andalus Group of Companies in Madina.
It would be recalled that the Commission started its Inspection of states accommodations, catering facilities and negotiation of prices in Saudi Arabia and concluded the exercise which is one of the precondition for the negotiation of prices on the 2nd of March.
The Inspection Team which was divided into three groups and whose report will form the basis for negotiation is a major plank on which the board desire to provide succor for the pilgrims reside.
The statement said each of the team is headed by a Director in the Commission with five other members including representatives of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Nigerian Consulate in Jeddah and members of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Foreign Affairs and Hajj Matters.