Hajj 2016: NAHCON seeks better deals for pilgrims

PHOTO: content.time.com

PHOTO: content.time.com

As preparations peak for 2016 Hajj operation, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) is perfecting new modalities that will guarantee a hitch-free exercise, even as it noted that 4000 buses used by Nigerian pilgrims would be replaced by Saudi Arabia government.

Chairman of the Commission, Abdullahi Mohammed, who disclosed this during a courtesy call by a delegation of the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, said that the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Saudi Arabia as well as the efforts of the Commission and other stakeholders led to the securing of better deals for Nigerian pilgrims.

Mohammed said the gesture by the Saudi Arabia authorities would take effect from this year’s hajj.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities have assured us that only buses from 2008 models would be used by our pilgrims and that about 4000 of the existing buses would be withdrawn and replaced with new ones.

“The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari also led to the Saudi government assuring us that there would be change in the location of Nigeria tent in Mina to be closer to the Jamrat (station of the symbolic stoning of the devils),” Mohammed said.

He said that due to the weather prediction that hajj seasons will fall in hot weathers for some years from now, the Saudi Arabia government has promised to improve the cooling system in the tents and the camps too.

Meanwhile, a total of 76000 Muslims from Nigeria will participate in the pilgrimage this year. The figure is the Hajj slots approved for Nigeria by the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

And NAHCON has already distributed the slots among the 36 States of the Federation, the FCT and the Armed Forces contingent including 10000 slots for pilgrims who will undertake the spiritual journey through the services of private tour operators.

In a statement by the NAHCON Head of Media, Mallam Uba Mana, the distribution “was sequel to Hajj quota of 76,000 pilgrims approved for Nigeria by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He explained further that the “Kingdom approved 66,000 slots for pilgrims from Government quota and 10,000 for pilgrims coming through Private Tour Operators.”

Mana said that stakeholders especially all the State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards, Agencies, Commissions were aware of the latest development as the announcement was made at the second preparatory meeting for 2016 Hajj held recently at the National Mosque Auditorium, Abuja.

“Similarly, the Commission issued guidelines for licensing of State Pilgrims’ Welfare Bodies; Registration of Pilgrims; Accommodation of Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and Provision of Catering Services.

“The guidelines were sequel to Rules and Regulations Governing Hajj and Umrah developed by the Commission in line with its Established Act,” Mana clarified, while noting that the guidelines are meant to streamline Hajj and Umrah operations and set standards in the management, conduct and provision of Hajj and Umrah services to Nigerian pilgrims.

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