How we tackled challenges of 2022 Hajj preparations – Executive Secretary Muslim Pilgrims Board

By Mohammed Kaka Misau

The Executive Secretary, Bauchi state Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Abdulrahman Ibrahim Idris has highlighted some of the challenges his office encountered and how they were surmounted in the process of preparations for the just concluded 2022 Hajj operations.

Ibrahim Idris while speaking to our Corresspondent in an exclusive interview recently, commended Governor Bala Mohammed of the state for facilitating the enabling environment for the success of the exercise.

“Actually there were many things that happened since the commencement of preparations for this year’s Hajj, it started with some challenges, first, it was inadequate time, the time for the commencement of the Hajj exercise was announced after fasting unlike before when it used to be before”, he said.

According to him, “as it used to be, issues of visas are completed during fasting. So, in this year’s case, the time for the commencement of preparations was announced just two months to the Hajj operation, that was one of the challenges we started facing”.

Abdulrahman Ibrahim Idris who noted that the second challenge was the Hajj Saving Scheme (HSS), a new policy introduced by the National Hajj Commission where people will go and pay in money.

“It brought serious challenge to the exercise because it came at a shortest time. For one to open account at Jaiz bank at that shortest time was very tasking most especially to us, between us the Secretaries of the Commission of various states and the National office of the Commission”, he explained.

The Executive Secretary said, “the other challenge the board encountered had to do with the slots, just like everybody is aware, we were given 1,363 as against the 3,000 slots that we used to get. Before the slots were allocated to Bauchi we already had over 1,600 people that have deposited money two years ago”.

“Looking at the slots and comparing it with the number of people that have deposited, from there we sensed that there is going to be a problem because the seats allocated to Bauchi cannot be enough for the depositors alone, we are to drop 200 plus from the exercise as long as they all completed their payments”, he explained.

The Executive Secretary of the board described the inadequate slots allocated to Bauchi among others as the serious challenges that the board faced during the Hajj preparations.

“When we got the slots, we sat down and designed how we were going to distribute them and which we did. We gave 70 percent of what each local government brought in 2019, if you are up to 100, we give you 70, that was how the slots were allocated, each local government got its fair share and we ruled out new intending pilgrims because we were given three weeks by the National Hajj Commission and we gave time to all the intending pilgrims to come and deposit their remaining money”, Ibrahim Idris said.

He noted that after the deadline line, the board added three days for them, saying, before then, the slots had already finished.

“When we requested for additional slots, the National Hajj Commission gave us 100 slots and they later add another 50 slots after we came back from pre-hajj visit. But what happened was, the Commission couldn’t secure visa for these 150 additional slots, that was the biggest challenge we had”, he further said.

Ibrahim noted that “normally, in the initial slots, there used to be a situation where over 200 depositors don’t necessarily get visa, but when we got the additional slots we were only hopeful that those who would be left out are not going to exceed 60 but unfortunately, we did all we could to get visa for the 150 slots but could not succeed up to the time the intending pilgrims were airlifted, from the first to the last batch, all effort to see that we got visa for the remaining 150 proved abortive”.

While calling on the intending pilgrims who could not succeed in making it to this year’s Hajj, the Executive Secretary reminded them to believe that it was the will of Allah that made it impossible for them to perform the spiritual exercise this year.

“I want to appeal to them to take it as an act of Allah, a Hausa man can say “Hajji kiran Allah” (Hajj is a call from God), it is believed that if God hasn’t called a person for the spiritual exercise, he can’t go”, he said.

“We have seen in so many instances, I myself, there was a time during Mu’azu’s administration that I have entered the plane but something came up and I have to come down, I was unable to make it to the holy land. People should know that that is how it is with Hajj, if God has not destined you for the exercise, even if you reach Saudi Arabia, they will bring you back to Nigeria without having the opportunity to perform the spiritual exercise. We apologize to them and we hope that they would endure and keep their money for another year, we promise that we are going to start with them next, that is for those who will keep their money with us, but we are not stopping anybody willing to collect his money back from doing so, all one need to do is to write to us and we will give him his money back, the door is opened”, he added.

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