Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR) has expressed disappointment on the recurring spat between the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and some states’ Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and Agencies over the Hajj Saving Scheme, (HSS).
When it was first launched, the HSS was welcomed by all stakeholders and was seen to be the perfect solution to the lingering issue of Hajj operations planning and executions.
Since the launch about three years ago, however, IHR notes that both the apex Hajj regulatory body, which is NAHCON and the states have found it difficult to work smoothly on the project.
Central to the cause of the conflict is the accusation by states that NAHCON is usurping their powers by registering pilgrims, while the commission consistently denies these accusations and points to the implementation process of the Scheme as run under Jaiz Bank.
The issue has always been about accommodating pilgrims who paid their Hajj fare through the HSS. Many states prefer to register pilgrims who paid their fare through them before even considering those that paid through HSS, the result being, many are eventually left out even though both HSS and Pilgrims Boards pilgrims are from the state.
After a series of meetings, NAHCON and the states had announced that an agreement is reached whereby pilgrims who registered through states will constituencies 60% while the remaining 40% will go to HSS.
However, some states appeared to have reneged on this agreement by refusing to register HSS pilgrims which led to NAHCON rebuking them publicly.
The Kaduna State Pilgrims Agency did not take kindly to NAHCON’s rebuke and reacted fiercely also publicly.
IHR, in a statement on Tuesday, by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Mohammed said the continued attacks and counter attacks about the HSS is unhealthy for the Hajj industry in Nigeria.
“It is difficult to understand why it has become impossible for people entrusted with handling the affairs of the guests of Ar-Rahman will find it difficult to keep to agreements reached. At the centre of this all is the hapless pilgrim who chose to trust relevant officials and does as directed only to be denied the chance to fulfil one of the pillars of Islam,” the statement said.
IHR cautions officials to always keep at the back of their minds that their duties transcend beyond the normal call of duty because, by their actions or inaction, they tend to either curry favour or incur the wrath of Allah SWT.
“It is in the interest of all concerned to ensure they stick to agreements reached in 9rder to find favour in the eyes of Allah. The pilgrims who paid their fare either through HSS or states must not be deliberately denied the chance to undertake Hajj
“We, therefore, call on relevant stakeholders to wade into the matter and resolve it as quickly as possible, to avoid causing further disharmony within Nigeria Hajj Industry,” IHR said.