The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has advised state pilgrims welfare boards to negotiate favourable accommodation deals with Saudi Arabian service providers to ensure reduction of the hajj fair.
The Executive Chairman of the Commission, Abdullahi Muhammad, gave the advice while presenting Operation Licenses to the pilgrims welfare boards of Adamawa, Niger, Anambra, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Yobe and Taraba states on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr. Muhammad said the aim of granting license to the state pilgrims boards was to uplift and protect their autonomy in order to achieve greater performance.
He said the license would help the states to aspire and attain professionalism in hajj management which would further guarantee better service delivery.
He said that it was the responsibility of all Hajj stakeholders to ensure reduction in capital flight (movement of money from Nigeria to other countries), saying, " one of the strategies of achieving that goal is to ensure favourable negotiations with service providers".
"We will be assisting the country as well as the Muslims if we can negotiate the accommodation deal to the lowest rate possible so that the cost of hajj can be brought down to the barest minimum," the chairman said.
He said that the commission had demonstrated its commitment by bringing down the cost of accommodation in Medina through direct negotiation with house owners and landlords.
Responding, the representative of the chairmen and secretaries of state pilgrims welfare boards, Zikirrullah Hassan, commended NAHCON for the "laudable innovation" which he described as "salutary".
Mr. Hassan, who is also the Chairman of Osun State Pilgrims Welfare Board, said the licensing was a manifestation of NAHCON's determination to take Hajj management to greater heights.
" Honestly, NAHCON's step is salutary, it is a progressive step toward achieving our mandate," Mr. Hassan said. (NAN)