Heat Wave Kills Four Niger Pilgrims in Mecca

Laleye Dipo in Minna

Niger State Governor Alhaji Mohammed Umaru Bago has disclosed that six pilgrims from the state died during this year’s Hajj, adding that heat wave was responsible for the death of four of the pilgrims while the remaining two died of natural causes.

A statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Bologi Ibrahim, said the deceased were interred in Mecca according to Islamic rites.

Bologi said the governor lamented the period pilgrims had to spend in the Holy Land for the hajj, saying that the duration should not have exceeded two weeks instead of eight weeks.

He said in the statement that the governor was dissatisfied with the Basic Traveling Allowance (BTA) of 400 dollars given to the pilgrims after paying over N8million each before calling for the law establishing the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria NAHCON, which handled the pilgrimage to be reviewed.

He said the governor wants the hajj exercise to be private sector-driven for “effective and efficient service delivery,” and that he will lead a Committee of State Governors to meet relevant authorities for a review of the activities of NAHCON for smooth hajj operation.

According to him, “Let the private sector drive hajj operations, while NAHCON should be a regulator at the centre. If NAHCON must exist, then they should strictly be a regulator. I am leading a committee of governors to the NGF, from there we shall go to the NEC; I will propose this motion, and we will send a bill to the National Assembly where this issue of NAHCON would be reviewed.

“NAHCON is not helping matters. Our federal government is too big to be worried about hajj operations, this is  supposed to be  local government issue and not even state issue the governor was quoted as saying, adding that: “The state government should be able to organise pilgrimage and get agents from the private sector who will do these things the best way as other countries are doing it.”

The governor, Bologi said, also asked for a probe of the N90 billion subsidy given by the federal government for the 2024 hajj operation.

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