By Jabiru Hassan, Kano.
The Independent Hajj Reporters has urged governors-elect to sustain the ongoing hajj operation in their various states by avoiding unnecessary political changes that may disrupt the successful completion of the 2023 hajj exercise.
The airlift of Nigerian pilgrims will begin on Thursday, 25 May, about four days to the inauguration of the new president and state governors across the country.
IHR, a not-for-profit civil society organization that monitors and reports hajj activities in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, disclosed this in a statement signed by its national Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammed on Monday..
The statement said,” While we congratulate and welcome the newly elected governors, we strongly appeal to them not to alter the ongoing operational structures in their various states to avoid disrupting the ongoing 2023 operational blueprints that may eventually create confusion during the airlifts of our dear pilgrims.
“It is noteworthy that arrangements for all hajj services have been completed while NAHCON, States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards, hajj air carriers and other hajj service providers have mapped out strategies on how the exercise will be executed.”
The CSO observes that there is currently serious apprehension within Nigeria hajj industry that some of the incoming governors may replace some of the critical pilgrim boards officials in the middle of the airlift of pilgrims, thereby disrupting the operational ecosystem.
Independent Hajj Reporters, therefore, urged the incoming governors to be sensitive to the plight of the pilgrims who have paid their savings to perform the hajj ritual, “whenever they decide to effect some changes in the administrative algorithms of the pilgrims’ boards.
Our concern is the pilgrim’s welfare. We appeal to the new governors to be circumspect in taking any decision so as not to jeopardise the smooth hajj operations.”
“The closest Hajj officials that can be reached by pilgrims are the state pilgrims boards officials – who registered the pilgrims, conducted enlightenment, facilitated the issuance of their visa, distributed bags and uniforms to them.
“These operational activities gave the local pilgrims officers direct contact with the pilgrims and at most times, they knew the pilgrims by name. The consequence of distorting the state pilgrims’ board’s administrative structure is that the Executive Secretaries to be appointed will immediately come with their own teams to replace the local pilgrim’s assistants – who had earlier created an interactive bond with the pilgrims.
The CSO said the appeal is expedient because of the peculiar nature of the 2023 airlift occasioned by Sudan’s civil war. “At this time, any politically motivated decision must be well-thought out not to disrupt the smooth hajj operation,” the statement said.