by Salifu Usman, Abuja
The chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Barr Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed has expressed displeasure over comments credited to Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) that hajj operation in the country has been commercialized.
NSCIA had on Monday while reacting to the lingering controversy surrounding the hike in this year’s hajj fare, through a statement signed by its Director of Organisation, Isa Okonkwo, warned against the commercialization of hajj at the expenses of Muslim faithful and called for the urgent review of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Act.
But speaking at the media interaction with members of the Nigerian Union of journalist (NUJ), FCT Council, yesterday, Mukhtar, who was represented by the secretary of the commission, Dr Muhammad Bello Tambuwal, said NSCIA were part of the process of fixing the 2017 hajj fare, and expressed doubt if the body could turned around to criticize the commission for inflating the hajj fare.
He said the components that determine the hajj fare are ;exchange rate, cost of transportation, accommodation, medical services, feeding and other essential services that will be rendered to the pilgrims while in the holy land.
“I read the statement and I don’t think it was the view of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs having been keep abreast with all the process and arrangement put together before arriving at the 2017 hajj fare.
“The NSCIA has a member on the board of NAHCON in person of Prof. Kamil Koyejo Oloso of Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan. He was the one that superintended over all the process and arrangement put together by the commission to arrive at the fare for the 2017 hajj rite exercise.
Speaking further, Tambuwal said the high exchange rate is principally the major cause of high increase in this year hajj fare.
He also explained that airlift of Hajj pilgrims to and fro the Kingdom of Saud Arabia are done on charter flights not scheduled basis.
“When an aircraft carries pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, it carries no single passenger on its return leg. And when the airlift is completed, the aircraft are not allowed to remain in the kingdom, in which case they have to return empty and go back again empty to start airlifting pilgrims back home.