In response to recent developments emerging from the Private Tour Operators sector of Nigerian Hajj industry, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) today Friday 26th January,2024 held a crucial meeting with Private Tour Operators at Hajj House Headquarters in Abuja.
Participants at the meeting were drawn from operators under the aegis of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators in Nigeria (AHUON) inclusive of the 40 Hajj travel agencies approved by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to operate in the coming pilgrimage.
The backdrop of the meeting was the divergence in decisions among tour operators regarding their choice of a service provider, Mu’assasa, to work with during the forthcoming 2024 Hajj operations in Saudi Arabia.
It would be recalled that leadership of AHOUN requested for an opportunity to scout for alternative service providers due to the liberalization of the sector by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. NAHCON had approved the alternative selection pending approval of the Commission after thorough vetting of draft agreements submitted to NAHCON and after thorough consultation with AHOUN members by their leadership in order to carry their members along.
These milestones had not been reached when dissenting voices began to re-echo.
During the meeting, NAHCON Chairman/CEO, Malam Jalal Ahmad Arabi, emphasized the importance of unity in decision-making among the tour operators to ensure a streamlined and effective process for Hajj operations. Acknowledging the potential challenges arising from varied choices, NAHCON advised the travel agents to deliberate and reach a collective decision.
The Chairman highlighted that, in the absence of a unified stance among the travel operators, NAHCON reserved the right to exercise its veto power to select a service provider that aligned with the overall interest and objectives of the Nigerian Hajj mission, as the body recognized by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when issues go wrong.
This call for a unified stand, according to Malam Arabi was to prevent unnecessary distractions during Hajj operations when there would be so much operational pressures coming from various legitimate interests. The meeting comes from NAHCON’s commitment to a cohesive and well-coordinated approach before embarking on the sacred journey of Hajj.
AHOUN leadership is expected to meet with its members privately and report to the Commission on its decision.