By BASHIR ADEFAKA
The Sultan of Sokoto and Leader of Muslims in Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has described the effort in ensuring the formation of Hajj Commission in Nigeria as a rigorous one, but commended the three preceding leaderships from the pioneer board under the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Muhammad Bello, and up to the third under Barr Abdullahi Muktar Muhammad whose administration purchased the edifice that is today standing as Hajj House, for laying a solid foundation – from inception to date – for the development of the Hajj institution in the country.
Emphasizing the reason behind introducing the Hajj Development Levy in Nigeria’s Hajj management as well as the mission of making the Hajj industry financially autonomous, the Sultan expressed confidence that the current Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, being a man he has known and whose integrity he has trusted, will build on those achievements of his predecessors.
The President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) made these comments when he paid his first and historic visit to the NAHCON headquarters in Abuja, which coincides with the Zikirullah Hassan-led board’s first year in office, and performed the foundation laying ceremony for the Juma’at Mosque of the Commission on Wednesday February 24, 2021, according to a statement sent to The DEFENDER by Hajia Fatima Sanda Usara, the Head, Public Affairs of the Agency.
He then called on the board to take the matter of staff welfare seriously while also admonishing staff and management alike to epitomize the teachings of Islam in their lives in order to address so many misconceptions about the religion. Additionally, His Eminence enjoined all Muslims to be law abiding to government protocols on COVID-19 and other matters of governance.
During the visit and as part of activities marking the one year in office of the board, the special guest, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar, aside laying foundation for the construction of a Juma’at mosque on the premises of the commission’s headquarters, equally inspected the NAHCON Digital Economy Centre due for commissioning soon.
Addressing the executive members, board, management and staff of the Commission, the Sultan described the visit as a special day to him being the first time he was visiting the magnificent edifice to meet and interact with management, senior and junior staff of NAHCON under one roof. He commended the Chief Executive for assembling all members of staff for the meeting, irrespective of their positions in the organization.
In his welcome address, NAHCON’s Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, expressed delight for the visit and appreciated the honour accorded by the Sultan’s visit, despite his tight schedule.
Hassan outlined the fourth board’s goals, which he said were unfolded at inception to include; making Hajj fare affordable for Nigerian Muslims; developing a plan of action by which Nigerian pilgrims will spend lesser number of days in the Holy land; implementation of Hajj Saving Scheme (HSS); take–off of the Hajj Training Institute (HTI); Digital Transformation of Hajj operations; staff welfare and; acquisition of property in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
According to him, his board has intensified drive for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through the facilitation of Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), adding that this will accelerate Public Private Partnership (PPP) in developing some of the country’s Hajj Camps and its landed properties so for that to become busy throughout the year, instead of situation where their activities happen only during Hajj period.
At the end of the visit, the Sultan took a group photograph with all staff of the Commission present.
Present at the meeting were NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, Commissioner of PRSILS, Sheikh Suleiman Momoh, some board members and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Egypt, Amb. Nura Rimi, who is also a former member of NAHCON’s board.
Other also present were NAHCON’s directors, management and other essential staff of the commission on duty due to COVID-19 restrictions.