By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has flagged off Hajj Savings Scheme in the state, assuring Muslims of equal treatment.
The scheme is a product of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in collaboration with Jaiz Bank Plc to make it easier for all Muslims to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
Speaking during the launch and sensitization of the scheme in Makurdi, the governor, represented by Amirul Hajj, Alhaji Sule Audu said his administration is committed to providing equal opportunity to all religions in Benue.
He said, “I will like to assure the Muslim Community in Benue State and NAHCON that the Benue State government will not relent in her efforts to see Muslims in the state enjoy equal right like other state indigenes and to participate in both national and international Islamic events”.
The governor said that since Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime, the HSS will assist “low income earners and the general public to make an installmental or gradual saving at their convenience, towards meeting their goal of going on Hajj.”
The governor requested Jaiz Bank to open a branch in Benue State for the people of the state to benefit from non-interest banking.
The Managing Director/CEO of Jaiz Bank Plc, Mallam Hassan Usman said as the Scheme grows over time, NAHCON and the various State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards can have the liquid funds required to effectively plan hajj operations early, thereby securing better bargain for accommodation and other services for their pilgrims. The scheme can also be the key to making them highly self-sustaining in the long run.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria Barr. Zikirullah Kunle Hassan said the scheme is part of the reforms to make hajj operations in tandem with the global best practice.
He said under the Hajj SavingS Scheme, subscribers can get reward of their intentions before actualising the journey, saying every Muslim can participate and will have the opportunity to perform the holy pilgrimage without having to sell off his or her assets.
In his address, the Executive Secretary of Benue State Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mustapha Ibrahim said with the scheme in place, Nigerian Muslims will be better off as it will impact positively on the national economy through indirect employment opportunities.