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Hajj: Disquiet at NAHCON as board members, staff protest exclusion

As the 2022 hajj operations continued to be dogged by challenges, with thousands of intended pilgrims projected to miss this year’s exercise, the National Hajj…

As the 2022 hajj operations continued to be dogged by challenges, with thousands of intended pilgrims projected to miss this year’s exercise, the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) is also bugged by internal crisis, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

Last week, the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON) said that at least 2,550 intending pilgrims belonging to 51 tour operators may miss the 2022 hajj following delay in crediting their members’ accounts in Saudi Arabia. This was in addition to other pilgrims who paid through state pilgrims boards and through the Jaiz Bank Hajj Savings Scheme.

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Dozens of intending pilgrims had on Tuesday staged a protest in Kano over the uncertainty surrounding their planned trip for the holy pilgrimage.

Internally, the commission is said to be battling with crises as staff and board members protest alleged discrimination and exclusion from activities of the commission respectively.

Multiple sources told Daily Trust on Sunday that some board members of the commission representing external stakeholders had petitioned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, over what they described as their “complete alienation” from happenings in the commission.  

The NAHCON board has membership from key government and non-governmental bodies, including the Ministry of Aviation, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Jama’atu Nasril Islam, and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, among others.

One of the board members said they were irked by lack of unity among commissioners of the hajj regulation body as well as unilateral leadership, which he said gave rise to most of the challenges affecting the ongoing hajj exercise.

Aside the board members, some members of staff of the commission are also grumbling over alleged cronyism in selecting staff for the hajj activities in Saudi Arabia, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered.

The staff members, it was learnt, were unhappy about the decision of the management to include the 40 staff recruited under the current leadership of the commission in the hajj operation despite initially closing the window on all staff below level 10 from the operation.

“The 40 persons were recruited in 2020 and they were hurriedly confirmed in May 2022, two months ahead of their due date. Most of them are between level 8 and 9 but because they are mostly relatives of the chairman and the commissioners, they were all picked for the exercise in spite of the early embargo on staff on that level,” one aggrieved staff said.

When our reporter called for reaction to the allegations, the spokesperson of NAHCON, Hajiya Fatima Usara, initially obliged to respond but later refused to comment declining calls from our reporters. She also didn’t reply to a text message sent to her. 

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