The executive secretary, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Muftau Okoya said yesterday that their greatest challenge in this year’s pilgrimage was in Muna.
Speaking to Journalists, Okoya said, there was an out surge of
pilgrims because Saudi Arabia government admitted too many pilgrims at the detriment of the available facilities.
“So the facilities were over stretched to the extent that Lagos
pilgrims encountered the problem of accommodation in Muna,” he said.
According to him, the Lagos State pilgrims put their maturity to test by ensuring that these challenges were overcome with patience and understanding.
Mr. Okoya also said that the Board is not under any pressure to retain the first position won in the 2016 Hajj operation. “We are not into competition with anyone, we are just doing what we know how to do best, which is giving our pilgrims the best treatment ever in Umurah and Hajj services, he said.
He explained that Hajj fare depends on the performance of the naira in the exchange market and other foreign components.
“National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has been working round the clock to reduce hajj fare but it has been very difficult because 90% of the components of hajj fare are foreign exchange”.
The Executive Secretary was of the opinion that the required number of days for a complete Umurah and Hajj exercise is 45 days; but the Board would have love to reduce the days to 20 if the opportunity provide itself because of the pilgrims who are private businessmen and women who are mostly affected during the long stay in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Speaking further, Mr. Okoya pointed out that fixing of hajj fare and the attendant high cost associated with it was another critical area in the last hajj operation, considering the economic recession and the hardship on the citizenry. This, he said, resulted in late payments by pilgrims which in turn affected the last operation negatively.
In his view, the use of technology made this year operation easier because all necessary facilities due for each pilgrim were registered for online through NAHCON. He stressed that food, hotels, tents, buses and other needs were applied for online and this facilitated the success of the operation.
In his analysis of the importance of hajj, Mr. Okoya stated that the essence of hajj is to educate all pilgrims that everyone is equal, no disparities among races of the world and there is uniformity and a representation of the last day. It encourages love, friendship, brotherhood, open mind, making friends, establishing contacts and proves that everything in life is vanity.
He observed that the lesson learnt so far is that each operation comes with its own challenges and that all challenges have solutions. So we sought for the right solutions during those problems and we still came out successfully.
“The problem caused by late payment will be addressed in the 2018 hajj exercise. A deadline will be issued this time but we are waiting for NAHCON to fix hajj fare. Lagos State began preparation for hajj 2018 way back in Saudi Arabia”, he declared.