By Abubakar Yunusa
A Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Independent Hajj Reporters, has appealed to the National Assembly to suspend the amendment of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, establishment Act, until after 2022 Hajj operation.
The CSO gave the advice in a statement by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammad, on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mr Muhammad said that the recent moves by the Senate and House of Representatives to amend NAHCON Act as it relates to the operations of the Hajj Saving Scheme, HSS, came at a wrong time.
He urged NASS to suspend all actions capable of jeopardising the participation of Nigerians in the 2022 Hajj.
He said that the CSO acknowledged NASS constitutional responsibility of making laws and amending same or performing oversight functions.
He, however, said that the sudden interest of the lawmakers in the Hajj saving scheme posed danger to Nigerians intending to perform the 2022 hajj.
“The senate in a motion sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Danbaba, Sokoto South, APC, is planning to amend the law to compel NAHCON to domicile all funds accruing to the Hajj Savings Scheme in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, instead of commercial banks.
“Earlier, the House of Representatives had directed NAHCON to suspend the implementation of the scheme after one of the lawmakers raised a motion to investigate it.
“Independent Hajj Reporters believes that the timing of this bill will hamper the operational ecosystem and alter the status quo of hajj activities which will adversely affect this year’s pilgrimage.
“Our appeal for the suspension of any action that can create operational challenges is centred on the interest of 2022 intending pilgrims, who are not party to the current administrative and legal squabbles,” he said.
He noted that actions on how to make hajj operations a success in Nigeria could be reactivated after the 2022 Hajj without disrupting the hajj industry.
“Since 2019, our dear intending pilgrims have paid to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam. Unfortunately, COVID-19 shattered their hope of performing Hajj as at when desired.
“It is interesting to note that thousands of intending pilgrims’ hajj fare is currently domiciled in Hajj Saving Scheme with Jaiz Bank.
“Therefore, suspending such scheme now will definitely affect 2022 Hajj pilgrims because of limited time,” he said.