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NAHCON speaks on 2020 Hajj operations

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NAHCON speaks on 2020 Hajj operations

As Muslims across the world await the official announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KSA, authorities on this year’s Hajj following the coronavirus pandemic, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has said that it would give the health and safety of Nigerians top priority in deciding its participation in the annual pilgrimage.

NAHCON’s commissioner-in-charge of Operations, Licensing and Tour operators, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, who declared this over the weekend in Abuja, maintained that the lives and safety of the intending pilgrims were more important and paramount to the commission than any other consideration.

“Whatever the final decision of Saudi Arabia on Hajj 2020 may be, we on our part will make sure that the wellbeing and safety of our country’s contingent is paramount and secured,” he assured.

Hardawa, according to a statement by the NAHCON’s Assistant Director, Information and Publication, Alhaji Mousa Ubandawaki spoke in an interview with the France Radio and Voice of America, VOA, respectively in his office.

Speaking on the commission’s position on the Hajj 2020, especially against the background of limited time to the commencement of the holy pilgrimage, he said that the commission is currently consulting with relevant stakeholders in the country to come up with advisory paper to guide the federal government in taking final decisions.

He said: “We have just concluded the first phase of our consultation and interface with the National Assembly committees and the leadership. We will start the next phase this week with meetings with the licensed tour operators and chief executives of state pilgrims welfare boards and after which we will collate our findings and send same to the federal government as an advisory to guide them in their final decision making.

“I can assure you that whatever decision that will be made will be in the best overall interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. We are not unmindful of the challenges and time constraints, but we will ensure that whatever advice we give to the government will not be influenced by sentiments.”

Hardawa explained that before the suspension of the Hajj 2020 arrangements by the Saudi authorities, the commission had made tremendous progress in the pricing and conduct of flight planning arrangement which had resulted in the reduction of cost paid to service providers to the tune of N3billion for which the federal government had praised the new board.

The commissioner stated that COVID-19 pandemic might have eroded that initial achievements as transportation and accommodation arrangements hitherto made may have to be adjusted in line with the World Health Organization, WHO safety protocol which Nigeria is a signatory.

He, however, assured that that commission has prepared well enough for any eventuality if it became imperative that the Hajj 2020 would go ahead.

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