By Musa Aremu
The 2022 Hajj may have come and gone, but the dust raised during the operation are yet to settle especially for some who felt “aggrieved” and are still nursing the wound. In fact some have even gone to raise phony allegations, some of which can be described as gossip stories while others are spurious which does not require any sane person to paper over. Though there is nothing wrong in doing a review of activities of the last Hajj with the aim of correcting past mistakes, but when the intent and motive is solely to pull down individuals and rubbish the success achieved, then it is unfortunate. It shows a mark of a person facing an uncertain future.
In the light of recent development where some people rather than suggest way forward for the 2023 Hajj success have consistently spew out lies against the leadership of NAHCON bordering on integrity, dignity and corruption which, to say the least smack of ignorance and falsehood.
In the first instance, the allegation against NAHCON of acquiring houses for pilgrims in Makkah shows that the person is either ignorant of the workings of the Commission or was just on voyage of outright mischief as State Pilgrims Welfare Board/ Agencies or -Commissions are known to be in charge of pilgrims. NAHCON only serves as a witness and arbiters in case of contract breaches or disagreement.
READ ALSOHajj 2022: Pilgrims enjoyed $410 accommodation rebate, others – NAHCON
Secondly, review of the information presented by some people against the Commission on procurement of drugs, appointment and deployment of Medical Team members in Saudi Arabia, the allegation of expired drugs, over bloated team and non-Professionalism of the team are unfounded, suspicious, groundless and baseless accusations.
361 Medical personnel provided health care services to the 41,000 pilgrims that performed the 2022 hajj exercise. Each personnel was screened and deemed qualified to provide essential health care services to the Nigerian pilgrims during the Hajj exercise after scrutiny of their basic professional medical qualifications, certificate of permanent registration with their professional councils and current practicing license. The credentials of each personnel were also sent to the KSA Authorities as prerequisite for the issuance of visa for the medical personnel. This was also the requirement before the clinics were granted license to operate by the Ministry of Health for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This due diligence was carried out to ensure that every member of the NMT was professionally qualified.
A total of 10 clinics were operated across the Kingdom namely in Madina, Makkah and Jeddah. In each of the main clinics in Makkah, 3 Doctors, 4 Nurses and 2 Pharmacist were on 8 hourly shift duty, while in the smaller clinics, 1 Doctor, 1 Pharmacist and 2 Nurses were placed on hourly shift duty. Similar personnel distribution was obtainable in Madina Clinics while the Airport Clinic in Jeddah had a total of 4 NMT Personnel.
About half of the Medical Personnel worked in the first phase of the operation (i.e Pre Arafat) while the other half worked in the 2nd phase (i.e Post Arafat). Apart from the deployments of members of the Medical Team to work in the Clinics, others were deployed to render the following services namely regular health Education, disease surveillance activities, emergency response/referral services and hospital tracking. All members of the team were fully engaged to provide qualitative and efficient health care services to the Nigerian pilgrims in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the 2022 Hajj.
The drugs purchased for use for the 2022 Hajj were carefully scrutinized to ensure that none would expire in 2022. The few with expiry dates in 2023 were mostly utilized and the remnants repatriated back to Nigeria to be used before expiration in 2023. The majority of the drugs had expiration dates in 2024 and 2025. Some of these would be used as opening stock for the 2023 Hajj Operation. So there is no drug left in Saudi Arabia that will expire before the 2023 Hajj Operations.
The 2022 Hajj operation recorded the lowest mortality in the last 10 years with 12 deaths. The only other time a relatively lower mortality was recorded in the same time span was in 2018 with 15 deaths. However, during the 2019 Hajj operations which had a total number of 45,450 pilgrims (comparable to the 41,000 in 2022) that performed the Hajj under NAHCON, there were 21 deaths. So, whereas approximately 5 out of every 10,000 pilgrims died in 2019 about 3 out of every 10,000 pilgrims that performed the 2022 sadly died. The youngest was 26 years old while the oldest was 62 years. May Allah grant them entry into Aljannah firdaus. So statistically, a lower mortality rate compared to 2019 was recorded during the 2022 Hajj.
The other extremely nagging and negative narrative was the number of days spent in Saudi Arabia by some pilgrims. If this was carried out by the uneducated, one would have excused their ignorance, but to hear supposedly well-educated persons spewing such poisonous garbage is destabilizing and disheartening.
Prior to the 2022 Hajj, the average and minimum number of days spent is 30/40 days to say the least in 2019. In fact Kano pilgrims spent 40 days on the average and some others spent 42days. Kaduna which spent 31days on the average this year spent 38 days in 2019 and 41 days maximum Kogi and Kwara State pilgrims spent 42 and 41 days in the Holy land on the average in 2019 and 30 and 32days in the 2022 hajj. The same with Nassarawa pilgrims who spent 41days on the average in 2019 while their average days this year were 33days. It is therefore curious why someone will deliberately turn facts on its head just to score mischievous goal and rubbish another man’s success.
On the allegation that the current board was responsible for the increment in Hajj fare. Nothing is more spurious than this one. It is a well-known fact that the domestic economy of Saudi Arabia necessitated the increasing internal revenue outside oil has increased the level of taxes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia like value Added Tax, which jumped from of percent to 15 percent, service charge, Insurance and Pre-Hajj Covid -19 Test. Even though many saw it coming with the public declaration of the Saudi Monarch aimed at expanding the economy of the Country outside the oil exportation.
Aremu contributed this piece from Abuja