By the provisions of section 3 of its establishment act, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), as captured in sub section (a) is expected to be composed of a Chairman, who shall be the Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for the day to day running of the commission.
Sub sections B to D of the said section 3 states that the commission is also expected to have three full time members and six part time members representing each geo political zone provided that two of them are women.
There is also a provision for a representative each from the ministries of Aviation, Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs (immigration), Finance as well as representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and the Nigeria Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs.
The sections gave the President and Commander In chief of the federation the power to select competent persons and appoint them into the board of the commission.
Since it’s establishment in 2006, it has always been the case that the Presidency appoints a complete board based on the provisions of its establishment act to run the affairs of NAHCON. The first board was led by former FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, the second by Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Mohammed while the third was led by the immediate past chairman of the commission Barrister Zikirullah Kunle Hassan. Each of the aforementioned chairmen were appointed alongside other members of the commission as enshrined in the law.
The current chairman of NAHCON, Mallam Jalal Ahmad Arabi was appointed in acting capacity on October 18, 2023 by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Nigerian Muslim Ummah who applauded the appointment of Mallam Arabi into the office owing to the wealth of administrative experience he was coming on board with, had expected that other members of the board would be appointed as soon as possible due to the fast-approaching Hajj 2024 operations and the new policies put in place by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia.
Indeed, since assuming office, the acting chairman had hit the ground running by taking important decisions regarding Hajj 2024. With the deadline to make deposits and register pilgrims looming, NAHCON is also expected to soon announce a final fare and airlines that would ferry pilgrims. Also, the leadership of the commission is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia very soon to inspect facilities being offered by the selected service providers and sign agreements with them.
Hajj operations is a challenging exercise that requires NAHCON to function at maximum capacity using all human and other resources at its disposal. We believe that the President understands the complex nature of this exercise as the fifth pillar of Islam and will do the needful especially at this critical time of Pre-Hajj preparations.
It is important to note that implementation of managerial decisions concerning the critical aspects of hajj operations often lie with some members of the commission identified by the act.
For instance, the member representing the Ministry of Health is expected to spearhead the screening and selection of members of the National Medical team and the choice of location of clinics for Nigerian pilgrims.
In the same vein, the member representing the Ministry of Aviation is expected to lead the charge in the screening and selection of airlines, while the member representing the CBN is expected to facilitate the provision of the all-important foreign exchange with which NAHCON is expected to undertake about 80% of its operations.
Most pilgrims from Nigeria are first timers to every operation and do not often have e passports, a member of the board of NAHCON from the Nigeria Immigration Service therefore, often leads the charge to ensure that intending pilgrims get their international passports on time for processing.
All the above arguments are made to underscore the importance as well as the necessity of having a full member of the board of the commission in place in order to help Mallam Arabi implement the Hajj 2024 operational plans smoothly.
Already, there is palpable apprehension that the country may not be able to utilize its entire allocation of 95,000 pilgrims this year due to the limited time available owing to the new policy and the high cost of Hajj due to the high dollar rate being experienced in the country.
It is therefore, hoped that President Tinubu will consider the need to quickly name other members of the board for the sake of smooth Hajj 2024.