From Mustapha Adamu, Kano
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON has formally launched Hajj Savings Scheme, HSS, in Kano State.
The bank-led scheme has been introduced by the Hajj commission to enable Muslims of all economic backgrounds in Nigeria to perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Speaking during the occasion, held at Hajj Camp in Kano on Sunday, the Chairman/Executive Officer of the NAHCON, Bar. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan expressed delight over the actualization of the scheme.
According to him, for over a decade, the HSS has been on process of being established until today that it has reached the climax.
He said the scheme had been evolved by virtue of Section 7 Sub-Section (1) of the legal instrument establishing the Commission, which according to him, empowers it to, among other things, “establish, supervise and regulate a system of Hajj Savings Scheme to be operated by the Pilgrims Welfare Board of each state and FCT for interested pilgrims”.
Hassan also stated that the scheme is the first of its kind in African sub-region, noting that, to his knowledge, no Hajj Mission in the entire continent has established an institutional scheme of this nature.
He therefore, congratulated the Board, Management and staff of NAHCON, particularly those in the HSS Division for their commitment towards the actualization of what he described as one of the major policy thrust “which has been on the front burner over the years.”
“Today, we stand on the threshold of history, as the journey of over 10 years has come to a fruitful climax. There is no gain saying that the formal launching of Bank led HSS is the first of its kind in our sub-region as no Hajj Mission in the entire continent has to my knowledge, an institutional scheme of this nature.
“On this note, I want to congratulate the Board, Management and staff of NAHCON particularly those in the HSS Division for their commitment towards the actualization of one of our major policy thrust which has been on the front burner over the years.
“Upon our inauguration in February 2020, my Board declared our intention to change the narrative of Hajj, especially the escalating cost of Hajj, by making it affordable to a large number of our people. The beginning of that aspiration is what we are gathered here to witness today.
The Chairman also stated that the event was the fulfillment of the commission’s mandate, using the Jaiz Bank Plc for its take-off.
“The new system will operate concurrently with what we have known as Pay As You Go at transitional period. However, payments made by the 2020 intending pilgrims will remain with the respective State Pilgrims Welfare Boards and will be given priority in our preparations for the 2021 Hajj exercise.
“At this point, I want to once again express my happiness to my two predecessors, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello, Honourable Minister, FCT and Barr. Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, MON, FCIA and their Boards for the very significant contributions they made in building and setting up Technical and Study Committees that formulated, the blueprints that addresses the various issues and concerns in actualizing this mandate.
“Permit me to also thank the board and management of Jaiz Bank Plc for the work they have done so far and to remind them that this is just the beginning of positive things to come.
You will recall that on 10th September, 2020, I signed the operating Agreement with our partner the Jaiz Bank in Abuja to kick start the implementation of the Bank-led model of the HSS,” Zikrullah said.
In his remarks, the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje expressed happiness for the introduction of the scheme and choice of Kano as the place for its formal launch.
According to Ganduje, the state has been known in commitment to Hajj, adding that part of the efforts is that he directed the state Pilgrims Welfare Board to start preparation for Hajj 2021.
Ganduje also advised civil servants in the state to join the programme, which he described as a golden opportunity for all and sundry to perform Hajj as one of the five pillars of Islam.
“We urge civil servants to key into the programme. With saving, one day a worker would accumulate the money to go to Hajj.
“We always attach importance to Islam that is why we established a ministry of Islamic affairs.