By Adebayo Waheed, Ibada
Following the controversy trailing the increase in the fares for this year’s hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the intending pilgrims, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCA) has blamed the federal government for the purported increase.
The NSCA President and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Sa’ad in a statement issued by Ustaz Isa Okonkwo, Director of Administration said government involvement was responsible for the high cost for obvious reasons.
According to him, the committee set up by the NSCIA under the leadership of Gen. A.B. Mamman (Rtd) to work out the modus-operandi of transfer had not been given the required support ,particularly in the area of statistics by National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
He said hajj should not be commercialised at the expense of the masses who are struggling to fulfill their religious obligation, hence the need to explore the cheapest cost for a comfortable and safe-hajj performance.
According to him, the NSCIA was therefore of the view that hajj-fare can be less than it is, if all parties are genuinely consulted for an appropriate solution and strategy.
The religion leader said the NAHCON Act is due for an urgent amendment to remove the wrong notion that Muslims rely on National pulse for the performance of their religious obligation
“We have observed with keen interest the controversy on the hike of 2017 hajj fares as announced by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
“The position of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on Hajj remains as, “Whatever concession is given any other Nigerian travelers (including non-Muslim pilgrims) is due and should be accorded to Hujjaj (Nigerian Pilgrims to Mecca).
“Nigerian Muslims do not demand any other special concessions since hajj is a religious duty for which we are responsible,’ he said.
He added that it is high time federal government handed over Hajj-matters , except consular and security to the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), saying “It is government involvement that is responsible for the high cost for obvious reasons.”
While noting that Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam which every Muslim struggles to fulfill at least once his lifetime, the Sultan said it is a form of worship in Islam.
“This explains why multitude of Muslims from all parts of the world participate in hajj every year. Many countries of the world handle their hajj operations with utmost seriousness and diligence,” he said.