The Chairman/CEO National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan has said the country is on the path of sustainable hajj management system with the launching of Hajj Institute of Nigeria, HIN.
Speaking at the launching of the Institute, Tuesday in Abuja, which has the 4th Board members as the pioneer students, QAlhaji Hassan said it was time to leverage on the economic potentials of Hajj and Umrah and it its trade opportunities in order to make them significant contributors to Nigeria’s economy.
He stated that HIN will provide a platform for training and research on various aspects of Hajj and Umrah, including the use of technology to improve operations and services.
“Over a decade ago, there was a general concern among the Nigerian Ummah that Hajj was an all-comers affair where anyone ventures into irrespective of his or her educational background. The leadership of NAHCON initiated a process aimed at professionalizing the industry which I was part of. Little then did I know that I would be in the driver’s seat when that project finally takes off.
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“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to the launching of the Hajj Institute of Nigeria (HIN), Nigeria’s and probably Africa’s premier institution dedicated to the Hajj and Umrah industry. The Institute was established to among other things to;
“Improve the quality of manpower in the Hajj and Umrah Sector in Nigeria to be at par with global industry standards;
“Train and certify all employees in the Nigerian Hajj and Umrah sector;
“Develop, in liaison with relevant bodies, occupational standards for the Hajj and Umrah sector in Nigeria;
“Provide an avenue for skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development of Nigerian Youth; and
“Be reference point globally for Hajj and Umrah training.
“You will agree with me that the world is rapidly advancing in technology and it has become imperative that NAHCON keeps pace with these global trends. In view of this, it has become necessary for us to refocus our strategies and embrace the latest advancements in ICT. The Saudi Vision 2030, which all Hajj entities across the globe need to align to, has placed a high premium on excellent pilgrims’ services driven by ICT. It is for this reason that the HIN will provide a platform for training and research on various aspects of Hajj and Umrah, including the use of technology to improve our operations and services.
“Management of hajj in modern times has gone beyond the trial by error system we are used to. With the help of ICT, operational activities have been propelled to a more efficient levels with near-zero room for mistakes which needs the right skilled manpower to run. The birth of HIN and its commencement of academic activities will serve as added impetus to NAHCON’s quest for sustainable hajj management system in Nigeria.
“We recognize the economic potentials of Hajj and Umrah and it is time for us to leverage these opportunities and make them significant contributors to Nigeria’s economy. Allah SWT ordained Hajj and in doing so, made special mention of the permissibility of trade during Hajj, in view of this, the HIN will play a key role in exploring the economic potentials abound in the sector which our businesses and teeming youth can explore. I am confident that the HIN will play a critical role in ensuring that Nigeria reaches and remains at the forefront of excellence in the global Hajj and Umrah industry.
“The 4th Board of the Commission has chosen to be the pioneer students of this institute not only because of the confidence we have in the quality of our programmes but to also commence the process of taking Hajj and Umrah to the next level from the very top. It is my strong belief that me and my colleagues in the Board will emerge from this programme more educated and better prepared to steer the affairs of Hajj in Nigeria.
“Subsequently, more programmes will be rolled out for the different Hajj and Umrah stakeholders in the public and private sector until critical service touch-points like local pilgrims’ and customer care officers in the state pilgrims welfare Boards and Travel Agencies – that deal directly with pilgrims enroll in the Institute to be trained in the basic tenets customer service required in Hajj industry to reach and surpass the standards of the global hospitality travel and tourism industry.
“As I welcome you all to this occasion, I pray that it will have a positive impact on the Hajj and Umrah sector in Nigeria and beyond and be one of the legacies this Board will bequeath to the Nigerian public and the world general. It is my sincere hope that this Institute will serve as a model for comprehensive training of organizers and managers of pilgrims and other stakeholders; A source of knowledge, a centre for research, and a base for conferences and seminars that will address the peculiarity of the Nigerian as well as global Hajj and Umrah industry.