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On Monday, 22nd October 2018, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Licensed Tour Companies (LTCs) held a meeting to review the 2018 Hajj operations. The meeting identified some of the challenges encountered during the year’s exercise and how they were managed. In addition, the parties collectively laid out plans in preparation for a successful 2019 Hajj.

Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad, the NAHCON Chairman, observed with dismay that some private Tour Operators, perhaps inadvertently, allow themselves to be used in unethical activities during Hajj and Umrah. He therefore made a strong call to members to be more vigilant and to tighten the loopholes that allowed these unwholesome activities to take place. He reiterated the need to cooperate with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia government in curtailing the embarrassing situation. Therefore every operator needs to study and abide by Saudi Arabian Hajj and Umrah guidelines.

Conversely, the NAHCON CEO charged LTCs to remain sincerely committed to their clients by rendering to them standard services according to terms and conditions collectively agreed upon. In the same vein, the LTCs were advised to report to NAHCON any infringement on delivery of services by service providers. The Commission lamented that both LTCs and pilgrims lack knowledge of the right channels to lodge complaints for prompt action to be taken.

On remittance of funds for Hajj registration, it was agreed that doing this belatedly is detrimental to welfare of pilgrims since it takes a minimum of three weeks for NAHCON to transfer funds to the relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia. Hence any delay leads to disorderly arrangements that affect the pilgrims directly.

Additionally, to a request for the LTCs to fill their prequalification forms correctly, they were also demanded to accompany the forms with appropriate documents to forestall any unnecessary verifications between NAHCON and Saudi Arabian licensing authorities that also leads to avoidable delays.

In conclusion, the meeting commended Saudi government and its missions in Nigeria for the successful handling of 2018 Hajj exercise. It was generally resolved that all members will partner with the Saudi missions in Nigeria to address the menace of Hajj or Umrah over-stayers. Considering the fact that some LTCs were involved in unethical activities, it was also agreed that there is a need to sanitize the private tour operator’s industry,

Fatima Sanda Usara,

Head, Public Affairs Division