Contrary to reports in some section of the media that a group known as Arewa Foundation based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia threatened to abort the 2017 Hajj exercise, the group has offered an insight on the issue.
A statement jointly signed by its chairman and secretary respectively, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulaiman Yusuf Alhaji Hassan Adam Muhammad made available to newsmen stated that rather than describing the action of the group to get Justice for pilgrims and the Nigerian government as an attempt to scuttle the Hajj exercise the national Hajj commission should address the salient issues raised by the group in its petition to the National Assembly.
The group reiterated its unflinching support to the National Assembly members and the presidency that their petition is before, nothing that it has confidence that they will be fair to all parties.
“It came with great shock to all the bonafide members of this foundation that some of the Nigeria prints Media and a Civil Society Organisation named ‘Independent Hajj Reporters’ published that we threatened to take ‘National Hajj Commission’ to court with a view to cause confusion or stop the performance of the 2017 Hajj if the outcome of the ‘Investigative hearing’ by the Public Petitions Committee of the Nigeria House of Representatives is not favourable to us.
“This is shocking and a calculated attempt to tarnish our good names and undermine our bold efforts to call the National Hajj commission to order from its orchestrated and coordinated mischief against the Government and Nigeria Pilgrims. Prior to our petition, the Chairman used to aggregate to himself a magnanimous power compared to that of ‘a lion sitting in his own den’.
“All the NAHCON commissioners, all the Staff, including Members of the Nigeria diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia, all the companies providing accommodations or welfare services to Nigeria pilgrim and even Airlines owners that airlift Nigeria Pilgrims, in spite of the chairman’s clear mischief and deep rooted corruption in running the affairs of the commission had no gut to even give an advice.
“He has made everybody his ‘larky’. And because our Foundation summoned such courage ‘worthy of emulation’, some group are using the Media to divert attention or subvert our efforts to salvage the situation, which is sad and unpatriotic.” The statement frowned.
Continuing: the statement added that “We therefore wish to, in strong terms, state that we still stick to the contents and prayers of our petition to the National Assembly as copied to the Presidency, the DSS, ICPC and EFCC. And we firmly wish to reiterate our strong hopes, our unalloyed trust and confidence to the Members of the National Assembly as we believe they remain the only medium we can make our voice heard. And we have confidence, with the indisputable evidences at their disposal supporting or buttressing our petition, that they would leave no stone unturned in this investigation.
Continuing: the statement further added that “Contrary to their assertions the National Hajj Commission’s activities in the last two Hajj periods, particularly 2015-2016 when the Chairman assumed office were replete with inexplicable mischief or misgivings against the Nigeria Pilgrims, the Government of the Federation and 36 Participating State Governments and their Pilgrims Welfare Boards.
“The Government and the general public must therefore be aware of the inadequacies of information that were concealed from them about the activities of the Nigeria (National) Hajj Commission in the last couple of years bordering on general operations, pilgrims airlift, accommodations, catering and other welfare service.
“Common sense has it that hotels all over the world have different tariffs or rates. And all these depend largely on locations, facilities, amenities and services. Setting a flat (Uniform) rate for all Nigeria Pilgrims in Makkah had no bearing to us service providers and was vividly clandestine and the Chairman must be compelled to tell all the Nigeria Pilgrims his reasons for the hike in 2015 and 2016 which be personally contradicted in his recent media mouth-shooting. In his recent media chats, the Chairman persistently kept saying agents in Saudi Arabia were responsible for creating discomfort to Nigeria Pilgrims and were solely the reasons for short-changing or stiffening accommodation rates to pilgrims.
He particularly intimated Nigerians that his commission, by side-lining Agents, State Governments and pilgrims Welfare Boards, was able to, during their 2017 Hajj preparatory visit, secure accommodation at the rate of SR 1,800 per pilgrim against his previously self-created bench mark of SR 4,000. This was as a result of “direct dealing with actual land lords and eliminating Agents,” It stated.