Nigeria has retained 95, 000 slot allocation for pilgrims in 2020 Hajj.This formed part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada on behalf of Nigeria and the Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr SalehBn Taher Benten who signed on behalf of the Kingdom.
The MoU was signed on 5th December 2019 preparatory to the year 2020 Hajj exercise. Prior to the signing event, Ambassador Dada conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s gratitude to King Salman Bin AbdulAziz and the Saudi Arabian authorities for compensating families of five dead and six injured Nigerians affected in the 2015 crane crash accident in Makkah.
He expressed Mr President’s gratitude for the hospitality and support being enjoyed by Nigerian pilgrims. The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs further conveyed the president’s request to Saudi Arabia to assist NAHCON in every way possible, and to support its regulatory role in terms of pilgrims’ airlift to Saudi Arabia.
The representative of NAHCON Acting Chairman and present NAHCON Acting Commissioner Operations, Alhaj Abdullahi Modibbo Saleh, delivered a message of gratitude to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah on behalf of his Chief Executive Officer.
The Acting Chairman had sent appreciation for the brotherly cooperation his team had been enjoying. After, Alhaji Saleh formally informed the gathering that Nigeria’s president has nominated a new NAHCON Board currently awaiting Senate confirmation. He then reminded them that Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad had hinted them of this possibility in their recent meetings.
The Saudi Arabian Minister of Hajj and Umrah who led the Saudi delegation in the signing ceremony noted that he had been Deputy Minister of Hajj 20 years ago before rising to become present Minister and is, therefore, a witness to the tremendous progress that Hajj affairs has attained in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, part of agreements reached for 2020 Hajj included a strong reminder on the e-track registration guideline. The leader of the Saudi delegation re-emphasised that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj will not recognise any contractual agreement or payment done outside the e-track portal. Such is considered illegal and will not be recognised by the Kingdom.
This information was disclosed by Vice Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr.Abdul Fatah Mishat during a technical discussion session preparatory to the MOU signing ceremony. He was supported at the meeting by the Deputy Minister of Hajj, Makkah and Deputy Minister of Ziyara Madina.
Others on the Saudi Arabian table were representative of the Minister of Interior, MajeedAl’ Rakan Al’Ajami; representative of Immigration Department, Yusuf Muhammad An’namri; Deputy Minister in Charge of Madinah, Muhammad Ibn AbdulRahman Albijawi; Deputy Minister in Charge of Makkah Emirate, FahadMunir Alkhuthami; representative from Madinah Emirate, TurkiIbn Barkai Abu Raba’a and Manager in Charge of Hajj and Umrah at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), MazeenIbn Ahmad Bazuhair.
Also part of the disclosures was that pilgrims could pay an optional 100 Saudi Riyals or more as insurance cover for any accidents, loss of property and other risks they may face while on Hajj. This does not, however, include medical care as the Kingdom grants free health care to every pilgrim while in the holy land.
On the clarification on visa fees, the delegation declared that the amount charged is 300 Riyals for all types of visas. However, the validity of the Umrah and visit (tourism) visas do not extend to the Hajj period. Issuance of such visas ends shortly before the onset of Hajj season. Mr Mishat commended NAHCON for its effort in controlling visa violation and pilgrims absconding in the Kingdom.
NAHCON delegation was informed that new policies will be conveyed to the Commission via the ministry’s official platform thus called for more collaboration between the Commission’s ICT unit and that of the ministry.
On the shortage of toilets being experienced during the Mina outing, known as Masha’ir, Mr Mishat assured that for 2020 Hajj, additional 60,000 toilets will be constructed by the Kingdom in order to address the problem.
Others on the NAHCON team were Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Justice Muhammad Isa Dodo, Acting Consul General, Ambassador Grema Satomi NAHCON’s Commissioner representing Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Nura Abba Rimi, Alhaji SaiduTiggi from Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and Muhammad Danladi Galadima from Consulate General’s Office, Jeddah. Others are Dr Ibrahim Sodangi, Director Admin and Human Resources, NAHCON and Maigari Ahmad, Secretary to the Commission.