Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has granted the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) approval to acquire a smart operational office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The Chairman/ CEO NAHCON, Mr. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, disclosed this at a retreat organised by the commission for its board members from November 24 to November 29 in Accra, Ghana, to brainstorm and collectively find ways of improving the Hajj operations in Nigeria.
Hassan said that the approval by the President Buhari would go a long way to reduce the spending by the commission in its offshore budget.
He disclosed that NAHCON is presently spending about 600,000 Saudi Riyal, which is equivalent of N65,557,923.00, as rent for the its office accommodation in the upscale Shara Mansoor neighbourhood of Mecca.
He lamented that the rent has escalated more than three-fold than the aforementioned amount as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This higher amount is what we have been paying in the last three years for a property that could not be utilised for even three months. This we considered as a great loss and economically unrealistic. We are, therefore, determined to migrate from being tenants to landlord in Saudi Arabia by end of this year,” Hassan said.
The NAHCON’s chairman also stressed that the commission has reached the last stage of obtaining operational license from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) towards the establishment of the Hajj Institute of Nigeria.
He disclosed that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) certificate for the institute has already been secured while the temporary site of the institute, which is located at Annex ‘A’ of Hajj House in Abuja, is 98 per cent ready.
He said that the institute would train and issue certificates on Hajj management, professionalise the operations and ensure that only experts on pilgrimage would manage the Hajj industry for best results.
He added that the institute would serve as training hub for all English speaking countries globally.
He further disclosed that NAHCON has been collaborating with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to establish a digital economy centre, which would serve as e-learning centre under the Hajj Institute of Nigeria.