Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has said that he sacrificed his 2016 hajj rites in order to effectively monitor the performance of hajj duties by the 76,000 Nigeria pilgrim.
Mukhtar in an interview with newsmen in Muna, Saudi Arabia, said he believed so much in the concept of voluntarism and stressed the need for more people to key into the policy.
He said it will be difficult to combine both the performance of Hajj alongside officiating as the two would be difficult to combine effectively, Vanguard reports.
“It is very important to say here that it is tedious to combine officiating with performance of hajj. We have done that in the past and we realised that it tells on our body and sometimes you don’t have the right state of mind to perform the official function again.
“I believe from next year insha Allah, we will find a way to make it a policy for the Commission as well as encourage state pilgrim boards to buy into the policy.
“As a nation, If we don’t do it now, there will be a point in time Saudi Arabia will introduce it that if you are coming for hajj, it should be different from those coming for officiating.
“So, before they do it, we will encourage individual to volunteer to assist the pilgrims and will make it rotational . So that when you do hajj this year, you will officiate next year by monitoring and assisting the pilgrims,” he explained.
Mukhtar said he championed the policy of volunteerism by leading with example, hence he did not adorn his ihram dress meant for performance of hajj this year.
He said his decision paid off as some of his officials in NAHCON also joined him in the crusade, hence the hitch free hajj exercise by the commission this year.
He assured pilgrims that he would discuss it with other stakeholders from the states before it is being made a policy preparatory for its commencement of its enforcement.
“I know Saudi Arabia may do it in the future asking some people to suspend hajj to be able to officiate, monitor and assist the pilgrims”, he said.
On Why Hajj 2016 is witnessing low casualty rate from Nigerians, Mukhtar attributed it to the grace of Allah, saying both officials and pilgrims are cooperating.
“Unlike the past, when pilgrims are busy roaming about in the sun, this year, they were busy praying and supplicating to Allah in their tents.
“ Our pilgrims are well behaved and listened to our instructions. If this behaviour is sustained, we will record the lowest casualty in the history of the hajj operations in Nigeria”, he said.
Mukhtar said despite the harsh hot weather in the Kingdom during the Hajj, good medical advice and treatment by Nigeria Medical Team assisted a great deal in mitigating the casualty rate.
Mukhtar said information from the Nigerian pilgrims showed that they were happy with the toilet facilities provided at various holy sites as well as Nigerian dishes for pilgrims from Nigeria.
As at the time the pilgrims were at Muna, when almost through with the three-day stoning of the devil (Jamrat), only 10 Nigerians were confirmed dead with most of them died of natural causes as against 2015 hajj where over 317 died.
The chairman hinted also that Nigeria may soon go into bilateral trade agreement with Saudi Arabian government for the mutual benefits of the two countries.
“Nigeria is reviewing our commercial trade requirement with Saudi Arabia. It will be a large scale commercial quantity that will benefit the two countries.
“ The commercial bilateral trade agreement will involved bringing in things Nigeria pilgrims and Saudi government require like rams but it is not coordinated as the Federal government is working on that seriously”, he said.
On whether there are frictions between it and the state boards, Mukhtar denied such allegation as they were working in harmony to ensure an hitch-free hajj exercise.