The Executive of Kaduna State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, Dr Yusuf Arrigasiyyu, has said that certain elements within the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) are sabotaging the Hajj Savings Scheme(HSS).
Dr Arrigasiyyu who stated this in a press statement issued on Monday, was reacting to NAHCON’s allegation that Kaduna, Gombe and Jigawa states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory are short changing about 2000 intending pilgrims that paid their fares through the Hajj Savings Scheme.
Stating its own position, the Kaduna Pilgrims boss said his Agency has given all intending pilgrims under the Hajj Savings Scheme their uniforms, bags and necessary accessory needed for the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia but they are yet to be issued visas.
The Executive Secretary disclosed that it is NAHCON’s responsibility to give pilgrims visas, but the Commission has already shut its portal, adding that all entreaties to open it have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Dr Arrigasiyyu said that 108 intending pilgrims who paid through Hajj Savings Scheme and 48 others who paid through Kaduna State Pilgrims Welfare Agency have been affected by NAHCON’s action.
Last Sunday, NAHCON’s Deputy Director of Information and Publication, Malam Mousa Ubandawaki, said the states have refused to allocate slots to intending pilgrims under the Hajj Savings Scheme, adding that they also blamed the Commission and Jaíz Bank for failure to remit the funds to their pilgrim boards.
Explaining what transpired, Dr Arrigasiyyu said that NAHCON had initially given Kaduna state 6,487 slots for the 2023 pilgrimage and the Agency has remitted over N15 billion to the NAHCON/CBN Account before the expiration of the deadline.
According to him, this signifies about 96% of the total amount that is supposed to be remitted to the NAHCON/CBN Account, adding that the Agency had also given authorisation for banks to remit the balance amount.
“All of a sudden, NAHCON sent us a letter reducing our allocation by 700 without giving any reason. I went to NAHCON head office in Abuja and met with the National Chairman and complained,” the Executive Secretary disclosed.
“The Chairman was furious and he told me that he had earlier instructed that Kaduna state’s allocation shouldn’t be tampered with because we are forthcoming. He said that the letter was written without his knowledge.
“The Chairman and I went to the office of Director of Planning, Alhaji Momoh Suleiman, where he demanded to know who authorised them to reduce Kaduna state’s slot by 700.
“He then directed that the our 700 slots be returned to us immediately. I demanded for a letter to that effect from Momoh but he assured me that it will be sent to me. So, I returned to Kaduna,” Arrigasiyyu explained.
“To my utter surprise, I received a letter returning only 45 slots to Kaduna State Pilgrims Welfare Agency, out of the 700 that was taken away by NAHCON,’’ he added.
According to the Executive Secretary, all efforts to reach Momoh proved abortive, so he called the National Chairman to inform him of the development, which he promised to rectify.
“When I didn’t get any positive response from the Commission, I took steps to avert what happened last year from recurring, when 93 of our intending pilgrims were denied visas.
“So, I directed my ICT department to give priority to intending pilgrims who paid through Kaduna State Pilgrims Welfare Agency. Out of the 6,222 intending pilgrims, only 48 have not got visas.
“We have done everything within our capacity for the 108 intending pilgrims under the Hajj Savings Scheme. It is the responsibility of NAHCON to issue them with visas,’’ he clarified.