*Says: Nigerian Pilgrims deserve best services, facilities
*Commences arrangement for 2018 hajj
By Ishola Balogun and Kazeem Ategbeshe
The Chairman of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, has said the commission will henceforth take over the provision of accommodation for pilgrims in Makkah ahead of the 2018 hajj.
State pilgrims board until now were responsible for the provision of accommodation in Makkah for pilgrims while NAHCON took charge of all facilities for pilgrims only in Madinah.
The decision was reached at the post-Arafah meeting with stakeholders in Makkah to assess the successes and challenges during the pilgrims’ religious activities at the holy sites of Mina, Arafah and Muzdalifah which determine the success or otherwise of the entire process.
Barrister Muhammad noted that the negative complaints about arrangements for Makkah accommodations which are handled by State boards have become a source for immense worry to the commission, thus the need for the commission to take over to ensure national outlook and interest.
Barr. Muhammad explained that a two year assessment period on the Makkah arrangements under the states has lapsed without any impressive change, a situation that calls on the commission to invoke its constitutional powers to ensure that the Nigerian pilgrims get the value for their money by enjoying best services and facilities during Hajj.
He observed that the commission will secure hotels closer to the Grand Mosque, with large capacities ranging up to 16,000 bed spaces each and at the cost not too higher from what the pilgrims used to pay.
“These hotels are there and we can use our strength as the bargaining force to give our pilgrims the best. A pilgrim in such hotels can meet prayers in the Ka’aba, even after hearing the call to prayers before leaving his/her room. It is our desire to ensure that the pilgrims are served with the best facilities”, he added.
He warned that any state which may wish to opt out of the national parameter will have to make arrangements on its own for the 2018 Hajj. Such arrangements may include securing Hajj slots from the Saudi Arabian government, processing of visa and arrangement for airlift of pilgrims, amongst others, of the defaulting state.
Meanwhile, the secretary to the commission, Dr. Bello Muhammad Tambuwal disclosed that arrangement has commenced to secure accommodation in Madinah for Nigerian pilgrims for 2018 Hajj.
He stated that a high-powered committee made up the Nigerian diplomatic mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards and board of the commission has been constituted to meet with landlords in Madinah with a view of maintaining the best hotels within the Markaziyyah axis of the Holy city.
Dr. Tambuwal said negotiation should be concluded before departure to Nigeria to guarantee securing the best for Nigerian pilgrims.