By Nasiru Hashim
fOR every challenge lie an invisible and unpronounced success because the challenges itself is a manifestation that there was a success that was propelled by the operational challenges.
The 2022 hajj is quite a unique exercise, distinct operations from other hajj exercises in the history of hajj operations in Nigeria. From no hope of performing 2022 hajj due to Coronavirus pandemic to low level assurance, and the eventual announcement that the hajj will be allowed to takes place.
There were so many uncertainties prior to 2022 hajj that even the best planner will finds it difficult to get his bearings in implementations.
More importantly, this is the first hajj that was performed without memorandum of understanding between hajj countries and Saudi Ministry of Hajj – documents that could have outlines all the needed operational guidelines.
Since my first hajj in 2016, I have been adherent followers of hajj events in the country owing to my previous experience. Quite frankly, I hitherto belong to the group of people believes that hajj operations is an easy task until a personal experiences led me into the details and complexities of hajj operations.
I came to realise that unlike other Ministries, Departments and Agencies or typical government institutions, hajj operates a different pattern of administration and therefore we cannot gauge its performance based on local factors. Policies and guidelines for pilgrims registrations, documentations, transportations, accommodations, feeding, and even the procedure for performing the spiritual process of hajj is a product of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj.
For example, Hajj policies and guidelines emanated from a foreign body – Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Hajj countries are operationally bound to adhere to the rules and regulations irrespective of local factors they found themselves. NAHCON, States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards are Nigeria government agencies whose responsibility is to facilitate hajj services to be provided to Nigeria pilgrims while in the Holy Land.
Specifically, NAHCON is a regulatory body and not a service provider but has the power to penalized service providers that failed to deliver on its contractual obligations. However, this will have to be after the service providers might have defaulted. The best that is expected from NAHCON is to penalize such service providers in accordance with the contractual agreements. I am sure NAHCON has not waived this options aside.
Airlifting of over 35,000 to Saudi Arabia within the spate of 30 days, provides accomodation for them, taking care of their health throughout their period of staying in Saudi Arabia, airlift them back home before the scheduled time, provides Zamzam water to all the pilgrims deserve applause irrespective of the challenges such agencies encountered in the process. Success has many fathers but failure or challenges attract blanket criticism especially in Nigeria without fairness.
I understand that NAHCON Chairman made serious efforts in securing extensions for flight landing during the outbound journey. The sheer zeal and determination to succeed compel NAHCON leadership to seek for flight extension in order to evacuate all the visa-approved pilgrims.
However, the failure of Hajj Air Carrier to airlift the about 1000 pilgrims does not in anyways indicates failure if we are to use logical parameters. There are over 76 flights operated to Saudi Arabia in the first phase and I am sure that two or three flight operations could have evacuate all the pilgrims. An agency that successfully facilitates over 75 flights operations and only failed to operates 3 flights cannot be termed a failed operations by any standards
My fellow brothers and sisters in Islam, Nigeria could have been the most prosperous and industrialised nation if all the public institutions in Nigeria succeeded in implementing 96 to 97 percent of their assigned obligations. The country could have rivaled the most developed nations if most appointed or political office holders utilized 90 to 95 percent of the resources to benefit intended public the same way NAHCON leadership effectively executed it’s functions in the 2022 hajj.
It is understandable that oddities attracts more attentions than developmental stories especially in Nigerian Media and that might be the reason while the successes recorded in this year’s hajj remain untold.
For example, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has executed and still carrying out massive road constructions and infrastructural developments across the country but the news of insecurity completely overshadow those historical developmental projects.
As a way forward, NAHCON and States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards should come together to identify collective lapses recorded in this year’s hajj and proffer solutions before the registration of 2023 hajj begins. Service providers that are contracted to airlift pilgrims should knows that hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and not a millions making industry where all that matters is smiling to the banks at the detriment of providing efficient services to Nigerian pilgrims.
Nasiru Hashim, a staff of Ministry of information writes from Jigawa state
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