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Why hajj will remain ‘unaffordable’ – Ex-NAHCON chair

The immediate past Chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Barr Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, Sunday said hajj fare would remain unaffordable as long as the…

The immediate past Chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Barr Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, Sunday said hajj fare would remain unaffordable as long as the value of naira continues to depreciate.

Hassan spoke in Lagos during a reception organised in his honour by the Companion (An Association of Muslim Men in Business and the Profession).

He said his greatest concern was taming the high cost of hajj but said the present situation is inevitable as long as the rate of dollar to naira is high.

The commission recently fixed N4.9m as hajj fare for the 2024 exercise for state pilgrims.

Asked about the challenge he faced as chairman, Hassan said, “Hajj itself is not a tea party because it’s a movement of logistics and human beings. More importantly, my concern is the rising cost of hajj. And as long as we have problems with the forex, the challenge of hajj being affordable would remain.”

The President of Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, recalled how former President Buhari summoned the MUSWEN leadership to the villa to inform them about zoning the NAHCON chairman’s slot to South-West while Hassan was nominated.

He said the former NAHCON chairman served creditably well and did not disappoint the MUSWEN leadership that nominated him.

“He came to the job during the COVID era and that is enough of a handicap. He surmounted the challenges and successfully organised two hajj exercises,” he said.

A former Commissioner for Justice in Lagos, Dr Muiz Banire, said it was very saddening that Hassan was not allowed to finish his tenure despite that a Southerner has never occupied the position.

Banire said it was very saddening that Hassan was not allowed to finish his tenure despite that a southerner has never occupied the position.

To pacify the region, he said the President should appoint for the first time another Southerner as Ambassador of Nigeria to Saudi.

“Let’s have a taste of Ambassador to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Others who spoke at the reception included former Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola; an elder statesman and foremost Islamic Studies’ Professor, Daud Noibi, Chairman, Oyo Muslim Community, Mr. Kunle Sanni, among others who hailed Hassan for leaving NAHCON a better place than he met it.

The Chairman of the Companion, Engr. Kamil Olalekan said the Ummah is proud of the many achievements of the former Chairman, saying Hassan performed creditably well and deserved commendation.

“NAHCON under his leadership will be remembered for partnering with NITDA to incorporate the use of ICT and digitalisation to bring efficiency to Hajj management. He took Hajj management to an enviable level,” he added.

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