Speech By NAHCON Chairman\CEO, Jalal Ahmad Arabi, OON, fwc On The 2024 Hajji Inaugural Flight Ceremony In Birnin Kebbi

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From the moment the administration of President Bola
Ahmed Tinubu saddled me with the leadership responsibility
of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), I knew
it would be daunting. I knew, because organizing the journey
for over 10,000 persons from one country to another is not a
casual business, how much more of organizing the
movement of 95,000 personalities, each with their individual
idiosyncrasies and high expectations. I knew I was not the
only Nigerian blessed with the wisdom of leading a complex
industry as the Hajj institution, but because I was the one
destined to bear this charge, I knew that the Almighty will not
leave me without a strong support system to ease the job.
I, therefore, begin by thanking the Almighty Allah for this rare
privilege to serve His guests backed by the strong pillar of
support from the Presidency, especially my immediate Boss,
H.E. the Vice President. Indeed, it is a rare favour that when
one is tasked with an overwhelming assignment, he finds his
principal ever ready to address challenges associated with
the job. This Fifth Board of NAHCON has been inspired to
confront difficult options through the support and vista of
new and higher standards set by this administration as the
limit of acceptable performance.
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Today is undoubtedly a memorable day in the short life of the
Fifth Board of NAHCON because we are about to put to bed
the many strategies we have conceived for the safe delivery
of a well-organized Hajj season. We stand to be assessed for
the promises we have made to spearhead an outing that
would be recorded as one of the best in recent times. I assure
you that all the essential services provided for the pilgrims are
of high standard. Under the supervision of well-motivated
and dedicated staff; staff that are eager to discharge their
individual responsibilities, we have no doubt that our pilgrims
will have reason to observe their worship in serenity and
We had several challenges to overcome before getting to
where we are today. The first major challenge subdued by
this management while preparing for this year’s pilgrimage is
in trying to reduce the 2024 Hajj fare. Although the feat was
achieved when calculated in Dollar, this may not be
noticeable when converted to Naira. But the
mathematicians and economists among us can attest to this
NAHCON management after consultation with members of
the State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards introduced certain
measures to reduce the high Hajj expenses. We reduced the
length of stay in Madinah from eight days to four days and
charged a fee commensurate to the four days, thereby
cutting down the Madinah accommodation fees
significantly after bargaining for the same luxurious hotels at
a lower cost.
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We reduced the PTA from eight hundred Dollars to five
hundred Dollars after taking into consideration that any
pilgrim in need of more Dollars can source them on their own.
We believe we have made enough accommodation and
feeding arrangement that would not warrant the pilgrims
spending extra on these amenities, thus five hundred Dollars
would suffice in this global cash crunch times.
Similarly, succeeded in moving pilgrims from the far end of
Tent ‘D’ in Muna to a higher up area adjacent to Camp ‘D’
that is closer to the Jamarat.
For the first time in a long time, our team of e-tract computer
savvies concluded Hajj registration and visa issuance prior to
commencement of airlift. To any one privy of Hajj
arrangement, this is not a small accomplishment. It means we
know exactly how many pilgrims we are working for and will
make enough provisions for that number.
True, the Hajj arena is a viable industry enriched with
abundant prospects to keep it autonomous if properly
managed. The Hajj industry is a field where the intending
pilgrim, the industry managers as well as the country and host
country all benefit from financially with the proper
management in place. As is evident from Hajj Funds
Management being practiced in a couple of countries, Hajj
investment has provided financial backbone to stakeholders
by promoting wealth distribution among subscribers and
managers alike through low-risk investments. This board is
determined to explore wealth creating ventures that would
not only contribute to the Commission’s internally generated
revenue but as well contribute to overall national income.
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Like my predecessors, we shall continue the path of selfsustainability through identifying and utilizing resources
embedded in the Hajj ecosystem with no extra cost at all to
the pilgrims.
Recall that since 2016, the Federal Government had stopped
sponsoring pilgrims for Hajj and gradually withdrew most of
the offshore funding it used to provide to the Commission. By
the year 2019 Hajj, NAHCON exhibited that the Hajj industry
can remain independent of government funding. That year,
the Commission conducted its offshore operations without
government funding of any sort for the first time. Since then,
NAHCON continued to relive this precept. Rather than being
the parasite, the Commission contributed to Nigerian
economy through empowerment of the country’s local
airline industry and empowering local caterers to travel to
Saudi Arabia as paid labour. This was achieved through the
Commission’s insistence that all Saudi caterers must partner
with a Nigerian caterer to serve our pilgrims indigenous
meals. Therefore, our indigenous foods are transported from
Nigeria to Saudi, boosting the country’s GDP. Similarly,
NAHCON insists that service providers must include Nigerians
among their Hajj labour force to enhance communication
with our pilgrims.
With the vision and foresight that this board has in boosting
the revenue of the Nigerian Hajj industry, I urge the Federal
Government to accept our candid reassurance that any
support offered to NAHCON in this regard will have a positive
replica effect on the economy. We have already set the
pace in the construction of hotel-like accommodations,
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multipurpose event centers, construction of shopping
centers, just to mention a few of the initiatives of my
At this juncture, let me congratulate our pilgrims whom Allah
has chosen to answer His call this year. I call on you intending
pilgrims to utilize this special privilege to serve Allah the
Almighty alone and do not be distracted. I implore you all to
avoid any conduct that would dent your image or image of
our dear country. Remember the lessons you learned while
preparing for this exercise and know that the time has come
to implement them. Also remember that you are traveling to
a country where there is language barrier and a country
where their laws are strictly followed for the general good of
the congregation. Claiming ignorance to comply by the laid
down rules or guidelines will not save one’s neck when
caught in the wrong side of the law. Follow instructions of your
officials or pilgrims’ guides to stay safe because they have
been trained to know the dos and donts. Saudi Arabia is a
country that does its possible best to give the finest hospitality
to its guests, therefore we should not abuse the gesture.
Abide strictly by all health regulations while in the Kingdom to
avoid falling ill.
NAHCON has made the necessary arrangements for your
comfort, do not hesitate to contact any of our official for
assistance when in need, because they are there to serve
you. Safeguard your valuables and do not carry along any
prohibited item into Saudi Arabia.
The feats recorded by the board within its short lifespan would
not have been possible without the collaboration of
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stakeholders. I particularly wish to recognize the teamwork
spirit that the Commission under my leadership has been
enjoying from the States’ Pilgrims’ Welfare
Boards/Agencies/Commissions. I believe the trust they hold
for this board is instrumental in this regard. We certainly will
not let them down. As partners, we all have stakes in the
successful outcome of our tasks.
I thank the Kebbi State Governor, His Excellency Comrade Dr.
Nasir Idris, who facilitated the successful launch of this
inaugural flight as scheduled. The amiable governor took
charge of considerable burden on NAHCON making the
complex occasion seem easy and simple.
I, in the same breath thank His Excellency the President for
standing up and intervening when it mattered most and
ensuring that Nigerians perform this year’s Hajj when all hopes
were lost. To His Excellency the Vice President, you have
been inspirational and an unrepentant optimist. We
depended on your guidance and direction and
alhamdulillah the result is what we are commencing todaya successful 2024 Hajj in shaa Allah.
Finally, to you the pilgrims and accompanying officials
remember to pray for Nigeria and its leaders. Success of our
leaders is our success that translates to our wellbeing.
Remember to pray for guidance for our youth as upcoming
future leaders. Let us pray for all that is good to come to
Fiamanillah Wa Shukran Jazilan!


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