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 engagement 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. This was followed by another meeting to update 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.
Again various supervisory committees were 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. The Feeding Committee, which is one of the inaugurated committees, 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, declared to participants that the Commission brought in fresh hands to offer innovative ideas to the committee.
Also coming on board are the Security Committee, whose responsibility is obvious; the Ulamas Committee composed of NAHCON staff, state staff and Islamic scholars from all around the country, tasked with providing guidance to pilgrims in matters of Islamic jurisprudence and other matters; the Education and Pilgrims Orientation Division, whose members are expected to offer civic education; as well as the Taruddidiyya Committee, otherwise known as, Transport Committee.
Last Friday, the National Media Team for 2018 Hajj joined the train. Inaugurating the Meadia Team, at the Commission’s conference room, the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed, cautioned against unverified information, advising them to double check, clarify before disseminating information. He warned against being used by politicians who would go undercover to taint their opponents’ image. According to him, “Avoid putting a strain on the healthy Nigeria-Saudi bilateral relationship, by meddling in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs.”
Barr Muhammad said only certified journalists who understand the dictates of their profession were selected to cover the Hajj.
In his response, Chairman of the committee, Mr Bayo Atoyibi, 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 place the following day at the National Mosque, Abuja. Mr. Atoyebi delivered paper on Media Guidelines, participants were also lectured on several regulations in Saudi Arabia, ethics, general diplomatic regulations, Hajj rites, NAHCON’s regulatory roles among other issues.
On double bunk beds in Muna
On the issue of double bunk beds making rounds, mostly on social media, making clarification on the issue, Commissiner, Dr Yusuf Adebayo, disclosed that the Mu’assasa first proposed the beds to NAHCON recently, precisely during Ramadan when some members of the commission visited the Kingdom on official assignment. He added that 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. The beds have their advantages and minuses,” he stated.
NAHCON in its wisdom considered the bed charges an additional demand on 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, whether 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.