Akin Akande, Abuja
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has said that all possible schemes of the perpetual hajj pilgrims will be blocked for this year’s hajj to allow first timers perform the “once in a life time obligation”.
To give bite to its determination, NAHCON said it has written to the Embassy and Consulate of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that any old timers to the holy land should not be given visa for the hajj operations.
The Commission stated this on Wednesday at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the 2013 hajj exercise held at the National Mosque, Abuja.
Addressing pressmen after the meeting, Commissioner in charge of Planning, Research and Information, Dr. Saleh Okenwa, said, “the issue of allocation of seats came back after we thought it was over but because of the 20 percent global reduction, which came up two weeks ago the decision was that each state reserve 80 percent to first timers and 20 percent to old timers.
“We wrote to the Embassy and the Consulate that anyone who has performed Hajj before should not be issued visa otherwise people might pretend to be first timers. So the problem is solved by eliminating old timers for this year. So for this 2013 hajj, only new timers plus officials has to be there”
According to him, all arrangement for this year’s operation has been made and the unified registration exercise will take off soon.
“The meeting is just to discuss the preparation for hitch free 2013 Hajj, to see what has been done and what remains to be done. Almost all the arrangements have been made, the air carrier and suit case manufacture has been screened and we are now awaiting final approval from the federal government and this unified registration system that we have been talking about yesterday the final approval came and the programme will take off very soon. Some states were requesting that we postpone it but we said no, even if we don’t get it this year we will get it next year,” he said.
In his opening remark, NAHCON Chairman, Muhammad Musa Bello, said the meeting was one of the three held annually to review the level of treparations of the various hajj authorities in the country.
He said the first ones was held in February with the third is expected to be held about two weeks before the commencement of this year’s Hajj operations.