HomeDocumentaryAnalysisHajj 2024: A Testament to Leadership and Innovation

Hajj 2024: A Testament to Leadership and Innovation

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By Ahmad Muazu

The 2024 Hajj has come and gone, leaving a lasting impression on the global Muslim community. Like an exam with familiar questions but ever-evolving answers, the pilgrimage presented its unique challenges, defying even the most seasoned experts’ predictions. Yet, amidst these challenges, remarkable successes emerged, demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of those involved.

Central to this year’s achievements was the leadership of Mal Jalal Ahmad Arabi, the Chairman/CEO of the commission. His vision for transforming the Hajj industry aligned seamlessly with the aspirations of Nigeria’s commander-in-chief, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, bringing a wave of innovative policies and operational changes. These changes not only disrupted the traditional methods but also laid the groundwork for significant improvements.

One of the most notable impacts of Jalal’s leadership was on the staff of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). Under his guidance, a renewed sense of dedication and fear of Allah was instilled among the staff, resulting in an unprecedented level of passion, zeal, and commitment. The sacrifices made by the staff this year were unparalleled, never been seen and thus reflecting a deep-seated desire to serve the pilgrims better.

Tackling the challenge of Hajj fare was a monumental task for the fifth board. Much like the lungs need air to function, the Hajj fare is crucial to the Pilgrimage success. After several adjustments, the commission settled on a fare that was affordable for pilgrims. Federal government interventions provided the necessary boost, allowing the commission to finalize and arrive at a reasonable amount.

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READ ALSO:NAHCON: The indispensable pillar of Nigerian Hajj operations

For the first time in history, the commission issued visas weeks before the airlift began, eliminating delays that had plagued previous years. This efficiency extended with the reduced number of days pilgrims spent in Madina, with all Nigerian pilgrims visiting the holy city during the first phase of operations. While some may argue that fewer days were spent compared to other years, the reduction significantly lowered dollar expenses and streamlined the process.

The airlift itself commenced with a record three flights departing Nigeria on the inaugural day, demonstrating the commission’s commitment to a smooth operation. The number of airlines was also reduced from five to three, further simplifying logistics.

Learning from past mistakes, the Commission ensured the Musassah lived up to expectations. During a meeting with the chairman of Ithra-al-Khair, Jalal emphasized the importance of adhering to contractual agreements. This year, pilgrims benefited from improved services, including beds, blankets, health kits, and single-use pillows. In Arafat, sleeping kits provided for the Muzdalifa stay, which replaced the bare floors or makeshift arrangements of the past. Adequate food and water supplies, along with adherence to Jamarat timing, resulted in fewer casualties.

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The medical team’s performance was exemplary, thanks to the foresight and preparation under new leadership. Their efforts ensured enhanced service delivery for Nigerian pilgrims, addressing potential challenges before they arose.

The return flights proceeded smoothly, with no state feeling sidelined. This sense of justice and fair treatment instilled calmness among the pilgrims, contributing to a positive overall experience.

However, not all challenges were overcome without incidence. The situation at Tent A, where elites were affected, stood out. The Saudi government’s refusal to allow the usual upgrades from Tent D to A caused panic among tour operators, leading to miscommunication and attempts to circumvent regulations. Blaming the commission for the problems. Such distractions threaten the commission’s future success and highlight the need for continued vigilance and integrity.

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In conclusion, the 2024 Hajj was a testament to the power of visionary leadership and innovative policies. While challenges remain, the successes achieved this year set a new standard for future pilgrimages. With continued dedication and a commitment to serving the pilgrims, the Hajj industry in Nigeria is poised for even greater accomplishments.

Ahmad is of the Public Affairs Unit of NAHCON, Abuja

muazu.ahmad@nahcon.gov.ng

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