President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with the newly appointed Chairman and board members of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) at the State House, Abuja.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, the chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, said they were in the State House to brief the president on the plans and activities of the commission with respect to the forthcoming 2020 pilgrimage.
He also revealed that they used the opportunity of the meeting to thank the president for approving their appointments as members of the board.
According to him, the commission has so far succeeded in reducing the Hajj fares including the cost of accommodation and ticket of airlines.
“We came to meet Mr President to show our appreciation for his kind approval of our appointment into the board of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
“We also came here to brief him about the plans and activities for this year’s Hajj.
“In line with the President’s mission, we have succeeded in the pursuit of reduction of certain items in the cost of Hajj without reduction in the quality.
“We have succeeded in reducing, for certain percentages, the cost of accommodation in Makkah and the ticket of airlines.
“We have effected some reductions. In line with all these, we are expecting to make some percentage reduction in the cost of Hajj fares this year as against last year. We are still working on all processes,’’ he added.
The chairman, however, noted that the Saudi Arabian Government had increased some of the cost of its services to increase quality of such services.
He said: “We realize that in the determination to also increase some quality of services, the Saudi government has increased some of the cost.
“But we have succeeded in devising measures to militate against this increase as well as to make certain reduction in some of this cost.
“We are expecting some percentage decrease in the cost of Hajj this year from that of last year.
“We also intimated the President about some of other plans which are still in process stage. At the appropriate time, we will certainly inform the press.’’
On whether COVID-19 pandemic would affect 2020 pilgrimage, the NAHCON boss said the commission would abide by the Federal Government position on the matter.
“As people of faith, we are always optimistic but we are not reckless. I can assure you that we are in tandem with the Federal Ministry of Health to actualize the Federal Government position on the matter.
“We have a member on the board that is with the Federal Ministry of Health. On daily basis, we interface to know the exact position.
“I can assure you, we are not going against any of federal government’s directives to ensure that Nigerians, either within or outside the country, are healthy and safe. So, we won’t be reckless.
“By Allah’s will, this year’s Hajj will come to be,’’ he said.