BY MARK ITSIBOR |
Minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed has asked the management of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to step up its sensitisation of Muslims on the need to take advantage of Hajj Saving Scheme.
The minister made the call when chairman of the National Hajj Commission, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan lead a delegation from the commission on a courtesy visit to the minister recently.
Mrs Ahmed advised them to adopt digitisation process, saying digitisation is the way to go because of the present reality of COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement that was issued by the minister’s media aid, Tanko Yunusa Abdullahi.
The minister’s advice was in response to Hassan’s position claim that the commission was adopting digitisation to minimise face to face interaction and “to create more transparency in our processes.”
Hassan said despite the outbreak of COVID-19 that trailed his resumption of office in 2020, “we did not close shop, rather, our staff had to work from home. We visited all Hajj stakeholders, including almost half of the governors in Nigeria; we had useful discussions with them regarding the mandate of the new management, and sought their support in fulfilling the mandate.”
He said, “Due to dwindling resources, we at the Hajj Commission frown at government sponsorship of hajj for individuals from government’s purse. Nigeria is the fifth largest contingent to Saudi Arabia for Hajji after India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. Nigeria has an allocation of over 95,000 and that number has been consistent over the years.”
But, the capacity to attend has reduced considerably.
“We, therefore, introduced a Hajji Saving Scheme, and all stakeholders have adopted it. Prospective candidates can now save bit by bit to allow them go to hajji at their own convenient time, without stressing anyone. They can save for as long as they can, and it must not be that they go immediately, but when they are able to save enough.”
According to him, the Hajji commission has entered a partnership with Jaiz Bank for the purpose of managing the scheme.
“We chose Jaiz Bank because of the obvious fact that it is a non interest bank. Jaiz is opening various branches to accommodate the number of people in the hinterland to embrace the saving scheme which is an added advantage for Jaiz to expand its operations. So, it is a win -win for all of us,” he said further.
He disclosed that the Commission is also training young graduates to learn and understand the activities of the Commission in order to create opportunities for them to participate and manage hajji operations and activities.
“Another area of interest for us is our assets. We have a lot of hajji camps spread across the country that we can use to raise enough funds and resources.