Hajj Commission urged to sustain 2016 hajj standard

Fatima Hassan, Makkah

Stakeholders involved in hajj Operations have called on National Hajj Commission of Nigeria to maintain the standard of hajj operation carried out in the 2016 Hajj Exercise.

They made this known at the 2016 Stakeholders Hajj Post Arafat Meeting in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

In a welcome address, the Charge d’ Affairs Nigerian Embassy, Riyadh, Ambassador Salihu Umar, commended the preparation made by the National hajj commission and Saudi authority in preventing reoccurrence of 2015 stampede.

“On behalf of Nigeria embassy in Riyadh, Jidda I want to congratulate the National Hajj commission of Nigeria for a successful 2016 hajj … in fact this  hajj has witnessed very minor challenges and we thank almighty Allah for preventing us from another stampede. I commended NAHCON for the excellent preparation made on ground from the airlifting to the accommodation and feeding, they did excellently well,” Ambassador Umar said.

In his opening remark the Chairman National Hajj Commission of Nigeria Mallam Abdullahi Mukthar said the sustainability of the standards in this year hajj cannot be achieved without the full commitment of States pilgrims’ welfare boards.

“The leadership of the state board that lead state contingence into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia you did excellently well without your hard work and without your cooperation and without your determination the modest achievement recorded so far couldn’t have been achieved. I believe you deserve all the commendation and all the appreciation. I pray Allah appreciates you the more because the state did 99 percent of the job on hajj,” Mallam Mukthar said.

Chairman House Committee on Nigeria – Saudi inter-parliamentary relationship and Hajj Affair, Dr. Abdullahi Balarabe, while analyzing the performance of the Commission,  said despite the successes achieved, the commission needed to re-strategize for better performance in future operations.

“Yes we can say that we have completed this year’s Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Jamrat (hajj rites) successfully but still there are challenges  and there are issues that need to be addressed. I believe NAHCON chairman and the state pilgrims welfare board will try and resolve them,” Dr. Balarabe said.

The Head of Medical Team, Dr. Ibrahim Kana, said while Comparing the rate of mortality in this year’s hajj and the previous one, that “we have now recorded 18 mortalities as at the time we are writing this report, we have one each from kwara, Bauchi, Zamfara, Taraba and Niger state while Jigawa, Kaduna Kebbi, Kano and FCT have two each and three international pilgrims making total of 18 Nigerians that died in Saudi Arabia i pray may Allah grant them aljanna fiddausi”.

NAHCON Commissioner of operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Modibbo called on airliners to ensure adherence to their schedules and alert pilgrims 24 hours before departure. “Our committee is still going round to make sure that the our pilgrims hand luggage do not exceed 8 kilo gram, main luggage of 32 kg because if  any luggage exceeds this weight it will not be airlifted and I call on pilgrims not to include prohibited items in their luggage”

Meanwhile airlifting of pilgrims back to Nigeria commenced on 17th of September with the departure of over nine hundred Kwara and Kogi state pilgrims.

The stakeholders post-Arafat meeting is a platform where all operators involved in the activities of Hajj review the challenges encountered during the Hajj Exercise and plan for the 2017 Hajj exercise.