Bago Faults NAHCON as Niger Loses Two Citizens at Medina

Governor Umar Bago of Niger State has faulted the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for the way it handles hajj pilgrims.

Bago’s criticism followed the death of two pilgrims from his state who died in Media, Saudi Arabia. Also, his complaints were informed by the reported poor food served to pilgrims who paid huge sums of money to make the trip to Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, Bago faulted NAHCON for playing the role of an operator in hajj scheme, adding that this created a vacuum whereby potential pilgrims are not checked healthwise before they are allowed to embark on the journey to hajj.

He said, “NAHCON is supposed to be a regulator and not an operator, but NAHCON has decided to continue to play the part of operation, therefore they have failed pilgrims.

“In my State, we lost two (2) in Medina due to their state of health and this is one of the reasons I am talking about NAHCON, because if medical part of the pilgrimage is handled by state, you will do your screening. You will see people who are diabetic, people who have underlying illnesses and you will be able to understand how you can transport them; but nobody does that because NAHCON is in charge. We lost two (2) due to medical issues and we lost another four (4) due to heat wave, in my state, and in Nigeria, I am sure it can’t be less than hundred (100) in general. This is not a good number and this should stop.

“Let state Government be able to do the right thing, screen their pilgrims, check their statuses health wise and even for those that are going to be coming for medical, let us understand where they are coming for medical, let us understand the type of medications they are taking; but nobody does that because NAHCON is handling it.

“There is need for the National Assembly to probe these funds (N90billion Federal Government subsidy to NAHCON for 2024 Hajj Operations)

“NAHCON is not helping matters. Our Federal Government is too big to be worried about Hajj operations, these are supposed to be Local Government issues and not even State issues. State Government should be able to organize pilgrimage and get Agents from the private sector who will do these things the best way as other Countries are doing it.

“People paid N8million for these operations directly before even the subsidy and they got only $400, this is ridiculous. What is $400? Somebody paid N8million to you NAHCON and you come and give them stipend of $400 to run themselves for 1month? There is no reason why Hajj operations should last beyond 2weeks. You bring pilgrims for 40days; you leave them here, some 45days, it’s ridiculous, because of racketeering in airlifting, in handling of cargo and other things.

“Let the private sector drive Hajj operations, Government should be a regulator, NAHCON should be a regulator at the centre. If NAHCON must exist, then they should strictly be a regulator but as I have told you, I am leading committees of Governors to the NGF, from there we go to the NEC, I will propose this motion, and we will send a bill to the National Assembly where issues of this NAHCON should be reviewed.

“NAHCON has no business in chartering of flights; it is not their business to feed the pilgrims because of the food. For example, I am from Niger State, if you allow me to feed pilgrims, I will be able to trans-ship foods that people are locally used to, to Saudi Arabia to feed my own pilgrims. I will be able to get a Kitchen that will feed my pilgrims from what they are used to, not to come and give them slice of bread or boil egg and people are starving. We have different cultures; you cannot force the Arabian Cuisine on our people and that is why they are falling sick.”

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