…Signs MoU with Saudi Arabia
By Ishola Balogun
Nigeria has retained the 95, 000 slot allocation for pilgrims again in the 2020 Hajj. This was part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries recently.
The Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada signed the MoU on behalf of Nigeria while the Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr Saleh Bn Taher Benten signed on behalf of the Kingdom.
Ambassador Dada conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s gratitude to King Salman Bin AbdulAziz and the Saudi Arabian authorities for compensating families of five dead and six injured Nigerians affected in the 2015 crane crash accident in Makkah.
He also requested the Kingdom to assist NAHCON in every way possible, and to support its regulatory role in terms of pilgrims’ airlift to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah who led the Saudi delegation in the signing ceremony noted that he had been Deputy Minister of Hajj 20 years ago before rising to become present Minister and is therefore a witness to the tremendous progress that Hajj affairs has attained in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, part of agreements reached for 2020 Hajj include a strong reminder on the e-track registration guideline.
The leader of the Saudi delegation re-emphasised that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj will not recognise any contractual agreement or payment done outside the e-track portal.
This was stated by the Vice Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. AbdulFatah Mishat during the event, adding that such would amount to illegality and would not be recognised by the Kingdom.
Also, part of the disclosures was that pilgrims could pay an optional 100 Saudi Riyals or more as insurance cover for any accidents, loss of property and other risks they may face while on Hajj. This does not however include medical care as the Kingdom grants free health care to every pilgrim while in the holy land.
On the clarification on visa fees, the delegation declared that the amount charged is 300 Riyals for all types of visas. However, the validity of the Umrah and visit (tourism) visas do not extend to Hajj period. Issuance of such visas ends shortly before the onset of Hajj season.
Mishat commended NAHCON for its effort in controlling visa violation and pilgrims absconding in the Kingdom.
On the shortage of toilets being experienced during the Mina outing, known as Masha’ir, Mr Mishat assured that for 2020 Hajj, additional 60,000 toilets will be constructed by the Kingdom in order to address the problem.
Others on the Saudi Arabian table were representative of the Minister of Interior, Majeed Al’Rakan Al’Ajami; representative of Immigration Department, Yusuf Muhammad An’namri; Deputy Minister in Charge of Madinah, Muhammad Ibn AbdulRahman Albijawi; Deputy Minister in Charge of Makkah Emirate, Fahad Munir Alkhuthami; representative from Madinah Emirate, Turki Ibn Barkai Abu Raba’a and Manager in Charge of Hajj and Umrah at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Mazeen Ibn Ahmad Bazuhair.
On the NAHCON team were Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabi, Justice Muhammad Isa Dodo, Acting Consul General, Ambassador Grema Satomi NAHCON’s Commissioner representing Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Nura Abba Rimi, Alhaji Saidu Tiggi from Embassy of Nugeria in Riyadh and Muahammad Danladi Galadima from Consulate General’s Office, Jeddah. Others are Dr Ibrahim Sodangi, Director Admin and Human Resources, NAHCON and Maigari Ahmad, Secretary to the Commission.