NAHCON to Undertake Hajj Passport Management Duties as Preparation for 2023 Pilgrimage Begins

James Emejo in Abuja

The Chairman/Chief Executive, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, yesterday said the commission’s staff were being prepared to take on an additional challenge of hajj period passport management, which was hitherto the exclusive preserve of Saudi agencies for a huge fee.

He said the commission remained committed to advancing Nigerians’ interest in Saudi Arabia, adding that it would deploy all relevant endowments in this direction, particularly its experiential assets.

Speaking at a media briefing, Hassan said the commission was fully prepared to domesticate President Muhammadu Buhari’s subscription to Open Government Partnership (OGP), in the Hajj sector, deriving from the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act of 2011.

He added that the commission has started preparations for Hajj 2023, adding that discussions with relevant Saudi authorities on Hajj and Umrah for early information dissemination had also commenced.

The NAHCON chief executive said, “We are happy to announce to you that on account of the enhanced performance in this year’s hajj by NAHCON, all other African countries consensually deferred to us to lead them in interfacing with the Saudi authorities.

“It was not for nothing that the concession for compensation that NAHCON secured from Saudi service providers for Nigerian pilgrims before returning home after the Hajj on the poor quality of some services have just been secured by other countries like Indonesia weeks after the end of the Hajj exercise.”

He also said the commission had remained resolute in insisting on good health services for Nigerian pilgrims, stressing that “Members of our medical team are as versatile as those of other top-rated countries in addition to supportive facilities and drugs”.

Hassan, among other things, also revealed that the proposed Hajj Institute of Nigeria (HIN) will be formally inaugurated by Buhari later in the year.

He said efforts were ongoing to professionalise the management and administration of Hajj in Nigeria as well as increase the revenue of the commission.

He listed the successes so far recorded by the commission on his assumption of office in 2020 to include, the pegging of Hajj fare to its barest minimum despite the obviously daunting global and local economic challenges; organised Hajj operations in less than a month compared to at least five months previously as well as Nigeria achieving low mortality rate during Hajj 2022.

He said 95 per cent of the pilgrims traveled despite challenges while their return journey ended earlier than scheduled, including a reduction in the cost of Makkah accommodation and a reduction in the number of days pilgrims spent in Saudi Arabia.

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