President Muhammadu Buhari met with the board of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NACHON, on Friday, over preparations for the 2020 Hajj operations.
Chairman of the NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, who led the board to the meeting, said their visit was also to show appreciation to President Buhari for appointing them into the board of the commission.
Hassan said that the commission was working to ensure that the cost of performing the Hajj this year was reduced.
“In line with the president’s mission we have succeeded in the pursuit of reduction in the cost of certain items in the course of Hajj, without reduction in quality.
“We have succeeded in reducing to certain percentages the cost of accommodation in Mecca as well as reducing the cost of airline tickets as well.
“In line with all these, we are expecting to make some percentage reduction in the cost of Hajj fare this year as against last year. We are still working on all processes.”
Hassan said that the commission realized that, with the determination to increase some quality of services, the Saudi government has increased some of the cost.
“But we have succeeded in devising measures to mitigate this increase as well as to make certain reductions in some of this cost.
“We are expecting a percentage decrease in the Hajj this year from that of last year.”
Responding to a question as to whether the reduction of cost would not lead to keeping Nigerian pilgrims in accommodations that are far from the holy site, Hassan assured that there was no plan to do that.
“On the contrary, if there are plans to even go and sleep in any accommodation very close to the holy site, Haram as we call it, we will do that.
“But we are only conscious of the fact that Nigerians who love going for pilgrimage are mostly the poor.
“That’s what our research has told us. We will not reduce cost and suffer quality; that I assure you.”
On how the commission would ensure that the CONVID 19 pandemic did not affect this year’s pilgrims, Hassan said that as people of faith, the commission was “optimistic but not reckless.”
He said that the NAHCON was working in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure compliance with government’s position on the issue.
He said: “On actual daily basis, we interface to know the exact position. I can assure that we are not going to go against any of the federal government directives to ensure that Nigerians, whether in the country or out of it, to be healthy and safe.
“We won’t be reckless but we are only confident that by Allah’s willing that this year’s Hajj will come to be.”
Speaking on items prohibited during the Hajj, Hassan said that the issue would be handled by enlightenment units at its headquarters, the zonal offices, and the states’ pilgrims’ welfare boards.
“We have already designed syllabus of subjects that are supposed to be taught to all these pilgrims.
“We keep on intensifying this enlightenment to ensure that pilgrims realize those things that are prohibited.”
He pointed out that even fake currency could lead to people going to jail in Saudi Arabia, adding that the commission educates prospective pilgrims to be conscious of the implications of this.
Source: Voice of Nigeria