NAHCON SETS UP HAJJ COMMITTEES
By Fatima Sanda Usara
In continuation of preparation for 2018 Hajj, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has been upping its game in the last few weeks.
Starting with a marathon meeting tagged, Final Preparatory Meeting on 2018 Hajj: it was a round table meeting that gathered the crème de la crème of Hajj operations in Nigeria to review steps already on ground for smooth take off of the pilgrimage. In addition to this, the commission updated stakeholders on matters arising while also offering each stakeholder the floor to table their progress report and challenges so that all can put heads togetherto proffer solutions.
Furthermore, various supervisory committees have been inaugurated. To improve synergy between the National Hajj Commission and State Pilgrims Welfare Boards, the committees, for the first time, were composed of members from the two bodies. One of the inaugurated committees is the Feeding Committee. It is responsible for providing sufficient, timely and hygienic nutrition to pilgrims. NAHCON’s Director of Planning, Research, Information, Statistics and Library Services, (PRISLS), Dr. Suleiman Usman, who stood in for the Commissioner of Policy, Personnel Management and Finance, DrYusf Adebayo Ibrahim, who had to be at another inaugural meeting, declared to participants that the Commission brought in fresh hands that can offer innovative ideas to the Committee.
Another committee inaugurated during the week is the Security Committee, whose responsibilityis obvious. The UlamasCommitteecomposed of NAHCON staff, state staff and Islamic scholars from all around the country, were tasked with providing guidance to pilgrims in matters of Islamic jurisprudence and other matters. Described as the Education and Pilgrims Orientation Division, members of this committee are also expected to offer civic education. There is also the Taruddidiyya Committee, in other words, Transport Committee; also inaugurated and offered the necessary training.
Among the committees also inaugurated is the national media team for 2018 Hajj. The inauguration was conducted on 6th June by the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAHCON, Barrister AbdullahiMukhtarMuhammed, at the NAHCON conference room. During the event, members of the committee were cautioned against various issues including: clarifying information before disseminating; being vigilant against falling victims of political gimmicks by those who would go undercover to taint their opponents’ image; avoid putting a strain on the healthy Nigeria-Saudi bilateral relationship, by meddling in Saudi Arabia’s Internal affairs. The journalists were also briefed on the different categories of pilgrims. They should therefore be careful not to mix them up in their reportage, so that they do not wrongly ascribe any action to a group not responsible for it.
According to the NAHCON CEO, the media team was constituted to ensure that only certified journalists were selected to cover the Hajj, journalists who understand the dictates of their profession. They are the ones selected and will be accredited to make the journey.
In his response, Chairman of the committee, Mr BayoAtoyibi, cautioned the participants on dangers of fake news whereby journalists simply walk into the social media and pick an unverified story then spread it as news. He described this action as a crime and falsity.
Similarly, a media workshop and training for the accredited pressmen took placethe following day being 7thJune 2018. Participants were lecturedon several regulations in Saudi Arabia, ethics, general diplomatic regulations, Hajj rites,NAHCON’s regulatory roles and other issue. Mr. Atoyebi delivered the paper on media guidelines. Participants were reminded of being mindful of their duties, and not to see the workshop or guidelines developed by their fellow journalists as an infringement on their job requirements.
In another development, the issue of double bunk beds has been making rounds, mostly on social media. While making clarification on the issue, CommissinerDr Yusuf Adebayo, disclosed that its Mu’assasa first proposed the beds to NAHCON only recently, precisely during Ramadan when some members of the commission visited the Kingdom on official assignment. And this was long after Hajj fares were decided and even announced by some states. They come with a price tag of 150 riyals per pilgrim. Purpose of the beds is to manage space in Muna. The beds have their advantages and minuses.
NAHCON in its wisdom considered an additional demand on bed charges as extra burden on the pilgrims. Hence the NAHCON chairman, in a final preparatory meeting with Hajj stakeholders made some clarifications and described the beds as optional and requested that any state willing to provide their pilgrims with the beds to indicate their interest, on condition that they pay the extra fee. Meanwhile the commission also demanded that the providers of the beds oblige Nigerian pilgrims with them free of charge for this year, if possible, then for next Hajj, the commission would negotiate. The providers have not given any feedback, i.e to accept proposal or not. Hence, only states that are willing to charge their pilgrims the extra amount or bear the responsibility for the extra charges will have the beds in their tents.
Secondly, the NAHCON officials who studied the beds consider their size as too small for our African physique, if at all NAHCON will buy the idea in future, there shall be an agreement on the bed size.
Summarily, unless Mu’assasa are benevolent enough to provide the beds free of charge, there shall be no beds in Muna tents for Nigerian pilgrims this year. Maybe infuture. Apart from that, there is concern over prayer space in the tents and how pilgrims not accustomed to climbing double bunk beds will adjust without any adverse effects.
The commission shall carefully study the idea before any action will be taken over their future provision.
Usara writes from National Hajj Commission.