N90bn Hajj Subsidy: Niger Gov. Accuses NAHCON of Mismanagement, Asks FG To Scrap Commission

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Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State has called for the scrapping of the National Hajj of Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) due to its conduct of the 2024 hajj.

The governor’s disappointment stemmed from the inadequate space given to Tent A pilgrims from Nigeria, which included some state governors who came for the pilgrimage as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.

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While the services rendered to the personalities were from private tour operators, the governor described the 2024 hajj as a failure.

But Jalal Arabi, Chairman of NAHCON, described the exercise as successful, saying the agency was able to avoid issues of lack of tents and feeding in Muna as against last year that Nigerian pilgrims were made to sleep under bridges.

“We have failed and continue to fail. NAHCON is supposed to be a regulator and not an operator but it has continued to play the part of operation and therefore failed pilgrims. Can you imagine that feeding, accommodation in Madinah, tents in Muna, transportation and feeding as well as health care workers are handled by NAHCON? There is no country that does that in the world,” the governor said.

He described as unfortunate, the manner NAHCON handled the N90 billion the federal government released to subsidise this year’s hajj, calling for a probe.

“As a state governor, I want to lead a committee of the governors and NGF to scrap NAHCON. NAHCON is not helping matters. The federal government is too big to be worried about hajj problems. This is a local government issue and not state. State governments should be able to organize pilgrimages and get agents from the private sector who will do this thing the best way like other countries are doing. The government has no business in doing this.

“Can you imagine governors of Nigeria, the Speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, paying to NAHCON and having no place to sleep and being embarrassed. People will say it is because governors have been touched. Yes, they have been touched but it is good that we are affected and this time for us to change the narrative.”

He added that the N90bn given would have helped in running the affairs of UBEC for four years.

“Imagine sharing this money with the 36 states. Some states also paid subsidies which in Niger state I paid N3bn. That N90bn is enough to run UBEC for four years. So, we can’t be handing our resources to people. Some people paid N8m for this operation and they got just $400. This is ridiculous.”

When asked for reaction to the governor’s comment, NAHCON’s chairman said he doesn’t want to join issues with the governor.

“Governors are our leaders. Especially, Umar is my younger brother, I don’t have to join issues or anything. Like I said, they need to be told what the situation is, how it is and it is conducted. Sometimes when you react at a moment, it can be misconstrued or misinterpreted. I want to believe he was misinformed or misquoted. He is among those we will meet when we get home. We will hear the operators that would have caused what happened and those that constructed the tents, the Muasasa, we have told ourselves that we are NAHCON, a regulator, we must listen and be patient.”

On the issue of the $400 BTA, he said the agreed amount was $500 but the volatile price of naira changed when the money was to be approved to the pilgrims.

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