The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) – a Media Watchdog on all matters of Islam in Nigeria today condemned in strong terms those hurriedly criticising the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) even before the whole Hajj Operation describing it ‘as an orchestrated campaign for ulterior motives and out of ignorance in some cases…..
In a Press Statement issued today by the Group, it stated that since the Hajj Operation began fully in June this year, despite the humongus problem encountered in high foreign exchange rate, which could have scuttled this year’s Hajj Operation, NAHCON did its best to ward-off the crisis, because the hajj fees paid by all pilgrims could not meet the rate currently circulating when the Operation began.
The Press Release signed by its National Coordinator Alh Abdullahi Ibrahim commended NAHCON on its publicity strategy from Day 1 of the operation which gave electronic media in Nigeria the opportunity to transmit daily all the happenings in the holyland including special live coverage of Arafat, Muzdalifa and Jamaraat activities in addition to special prayer for the Nation on Arafat Day.
MMWG explained in details how several problems not caused by NAHCON were efficiently and effectively tackled by NAHCON including the excellent medical services given to the 95,000 pilgrims that performed the Hajj.
The Media Group remarked that as at now, over 60% of Nigerian Pilgrims that were in Hajj this year through NAHCON have returned home in over 120 flights adding that within the next 10 days, all the balance of Nigerian pilgrims would be flown back home, according to NAHCON sources.
It is well known that in Hajj Operations, it is ‘first come to Saudi- Arabia, first to return home’ and that NAHCON had followed this policy strictly
On poor feeding arrangement in Muna and Arafat as well as lack of sufficient accommodation in Muna most importantly, NAHCON complained to Saudi Authorities as it is their duties having been paid fully for the services and the Saudi Authorities apologised promising to refund money paid for the poorly delivered services back to the pilgrims and in subsequent Hajj, the errors would be corrected.
While warning against insinuations over the death of 14 pilgrims from Nigeria, the Muslim Media Watch said several factors usually account for deaths during Hajj where it said, millions of people from all over the world converge for spiritual activities!
It stated that some people travelled for Hajj with unstable medical conditions believing that performance of Hajj would heal them after serious spiritual devotion, while some pregnant women evaded proper medical screening which is usually conducted by the States Pilgrims Boards/ FCT Board
To blame all these on NAHCON is totally unjust, unfair and injustice when some people connived to defy NAHCON guidelines meant to protect them; adding that ‘taking care of 95,000 pilgrims, no doubt there would be casualty’ no matter how small, MMWG said.
Let those blackmailing NAHCON in the Media stops forthwith, MMWG maintained.
In conclusion, the Group called on NAHCON to sanction Nigerian Private Tour Operators who reportedly abandoned some pilgrims instead of booking their flights back home as contained in the agreement they had with them and get them prosecuted immediately, stating that NAHCON has performed credittably in this year’s Hajj.
NAHCON should be praised and not maligned, MMWG concluded.
Ibrahim Abdullahi, FCIPM
Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria
4th Muharram, 1445 AH
22nd July, 2023 CE