By Olanrewaju Ajao President Muhammadu Buhari has directed relevant government agencies to look into Hajj operations in Nigeria with a view to stamping out corruption in the annual spiritual exercise.
This is just as the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Wednesday announced that 76, 000 Nigerian Muslims will participate in the 2015 pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
NAHCON Chairman, Abdullahi Mohammed Mukhtar, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mukhtar also disclosed that the President directed NAHCON to enhance its collaboration with other agencies involved in Hajj operations with a view to stopping the menace of corrupt practices associated with the Holy Pilgrimage.
“I met Mr. President and I’m pleased to tell Nigerians that he has granted all the requests from the National Hajj Commission with regards to the preparations for 2015 hajj; and also he had directed for inter-agency collaboration between the commission and all other relevant agencies to address the challenges and menace of corrupt-related practices that have to do with hajj and Umrah and thus we will face it headlong until we bring it to a standstill.”
The corrupt- related issues, according to Mukhtar were many: “Well there are many, for instance, people pay for services, which are in some cases not rendered. In some cases even they don’t have the chance to perform the Hajj or Umrah at all, their money is gone, and illegal operators that are not licensed to carry out the activities of either Umrah or Hajj, still play around and carry out the activities with impunity, so all these will be addressed.”
He also disclosed that the president had approved the 2015 air carriers that are going to airlift about 76,000 Nigerian pilgrims, adding that the list would be sent to the states accordingly for them to select the air lines of their choices.
The approved airlines include Max Air, Medview Airlines, Kabo Air, Planet Air, Skypower Express, Dornier Aviation, Top Brass and Hak Air.
The NAHCON boss, accordingly submitted that “with this meeting, it is clearly shown that the preparations for 2015 Hajj has reached its climax,” adding that”Mr. President also directed that we should comply with all regulations laid out by Saudi government to ensure the success of 2015 Hajj.”
On the budget for the exercise, he said government would only be responsible for medicals, security services as well as consular services of the Nigerian pilgrims as it had been doing in the past.
On Hajj fare, he said President Buhari had directed the commission to release it immediately, though he refused to disclose the amount involved, saying, “We will let you know.”