The Kaduna State government has set up a special task force to conduct 2024 hajj and oversee the affairs of the state pilgrims board.
This is to avert the various challenges experienced by the state pilgrims in Saudi Arabia last year, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, has said.
The eight-man task force, chaired by Sheikh Salisu Abubakar, was inaugurated during the week by the deputy governor.
Dr Balarabe said Governor Uba Sani was aware of the various challenges faced in last year’s Hajj which led to unnecessary hardship for the state pilgrims.
“Hence, there is the need to collectively rectify the gaps and create improved arrangements that prioritize the welfare of pilgrims,” she said.
However, some concerned staff of the state pilgrims welfare board have called for forensic investigation of the finances, procurements and contracts awarded by the board.
The special task force is coming months after Emir of Zazzau Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli, lamented the hardship experienced by the Kaduna pilgrims and described the state’s 2023 Hajj operation as a total failure.
The emir, who was the Kaduna State Amirul Hajj in 2023, said in an interview with VOA Hausa Service said the whole hajj operation was in shambles considering the predicament that pilgrims from Kaduna State went through while at the Holy Land before they were evacuated back to Nigeria.
The traditional ruler said he and his entourage were subjected to untold hardship before they were evacuated to Nigeria.
He said many Kaduna pilgrims were left stranded at the holy land before their evacuation back to Nigeria.
During the 2023 hajj, Kaduna pilgrims have accused the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Dr Yusuf Yakubu Arrigasiyyu, of renting about 1,400-bed spaces in Kudai Zamzam, a mountainous neighbourhood far away from the holy mosque.
To address these challenges, the Kaduna deputy governor said the terms of reference for the committee outlined the crucial areas that required utmost attention and diligence.
“We expect you to ensure that only organizations capable of meeting our standards are engaged.
“They must ensure that the accommodation in Mecca meets the required bed capacity and proximity to the Kaaba, and the quality of feeding is standard.
“There must be proper implementation of hadaya services, and efficient transportation. These are the essential components of a successful pilgrimage,” Mrs Balarabe said.
Other members of the task force include Baba Ahmed-Rufai, who will serve as the secretary, while the other members are: Imam Buhari, Maimuna Waziri, Aminu Kasimu, Prof. Muhammadu Mustapha-Gwadabe, AVM Muhammad Rabiu Dabo (rtd), and Ummakhukthum Jibril- Maigwari.
The consented staff of the pilgrims’ board thanked Governor Uba Sani for setting up the task force. They said the leadership of the board has been compromised.