By Salisu Sani-Idris
Abuja – The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has advised intending pilgrims to ensure timely payment of 2018 Hajj fare to enable the commission meet the deadline for closure of registration by the Saudi Authority.
The Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad gave the advice when he received the new leadership of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON) at the commission’s Headquarters’ in Abuja.
Muhammad explained that every intending pilgrim, who wished to perform the 2018 Hajj, either through States Pilgrims Boards or Licence Tour Operators must be able to complete registration, documentation and payment process before the end of March 2018.
He said that based on the Saudi Authority’s Calendar for 2018, any intending pilgrim that could not make payment and be captured in the Saudi Hajj portal before the end of May 2018, would not perform the 2018 hajj.
The NAHCON boss, therefore, advised Private Tour Operators who want to participate in 2018 Hajj to ensure timely planning, booking, and reservation before the end of March 2018.
“I want to say without mincing words that there won’t be any change, because we are meant to understand clearly and we have to support the Saudi authority to succeed in planning and executing the Hajj.
“ The Saudi Authority by the grace of God will close the portal for Hajj registration by the end of May 2018.
“ So, anybody who could not plan and be captured in that portal before the end of May, that means he cannot perform the 2018 hajj.
“This will be the message that we will continue to carry to all Nigerians till the end of registration for 2018 Hajj, “` Muhammad said.
The chairman said that already, NAHCON had started releasing jingo on television stations to educate intending pilgrims on the need for timely payment of Hajj fare and proper planning.
According to him, the jingle has been translated into all major languages in Nigeria and will be aired continuously in all Radio and TV stations across the nation.
He said the enlightenment programme would make intending pilgrims to understand that Hajj was not like a supermarket shopping where people would just wake up and walk into any supermarket to buy what they want to buy.
Muhammad said whoever wants to perform Hajj must plan in good time to enable the travel agency, State and Federal Governments plan very well to ensure that pilgrims got value for their money.
“ When people want to travel for their leisure, not religious journey in Europe and other countries within African where they have vocational centres, they make plans six months ahead of time.
“ They will put the travel agency on a notice in January. for journey of December, but if it comes to Hajj issues nobody cares that there is any element of need to plan early.
“ This, we have to gradually de-orient our people to understand that Hajj is no longer a supermarket shopping,’’ he said.
The NAHCON boss, therefore, assured that the commission would collaborate with Private Tour Operators and all stakeholders to ensure sustained campaign on the need for timely payment of Hajj fare.
Earlier, the Acting President of AHUON, Alhaji Salihu Butu said that the association had concluded arrangement to inaugurate aggressive media campaign to educate intending pilgrims on the significance of prompt payment of hajj fares
He pledged the determination of the association to work assiduously toward improving the quality of services rendered to Nigerian pilgrims.
Butu said as part of efforts to ensure that pilgrims got value for their money, the association would soon begin sponsoring of people that would monitor and supervise feeding of pilgrims and other services. (NAN)