COVID-19: We’re Counting Losses Due to Umrah Suspension, Hajj, Umrah Operators Lament

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Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

The Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON) yesterday in Kano appealed to the federal government to capture its members in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) N50 billion COVID-19 palliatives that was meant for hoteliers, airlines, service providers and health merchants.

Speaking during an interactive session with members of Kano State Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Zonal Chairman of AHUON, Kano, Mr. Abdullaziz Halliru Kafinsoli, lamented that the outbreak of COVID-19 has seriously affected their business.

Kafinsoli hinged his appeal for the inclusion of the members of AHUON as beneficiaries of the CBN’s palliatives on the recent suspension of flights into Saudi Arabia by Saudi authorities, which he claimed, has exposed members of the association losses losses running into millions of dollars.

“We have gone through the CBN’s N50 billion incentive offer, but we are not optimistic of benefitting from it because we have not been consulted.

“The federal government should consider our members because we are the worse hit in this COVID-19 problem. When policies like this are made, our members should be captured considering the amount of turnover and revenue we generate for the federal government through our business,” he said.

He also expressed happiness over the emergence of a new leadership for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and promised that the association’s readiness to work hand-in-hand with the new leadership of NAHCON for smooth airlift of pilgrims to the Holy Land.

Kafinsoli, however, urged pilgrims who had already registered before the suspension of the Hajj exercise by Saudi authorities not to the panic as measures have been put in place to ensure that their expenses are adequately protected.

“We are assuring those who have already booked flights with our members that they are not going to lose their money.

“Once the suspension is lifted, they will make use of their tickets. We are working round the clock to ensure that they will be duly compensated and we are happy that the Saudi authorities are cooperating with us in this regard,” he added.