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Governor Calls For NAHCON’s Scrapping Over Alleged Mismanagement Of N90bn Hajj Subsidy

Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State has demanded the scrapping of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), citing mismanagement of the 2024 hajj operations.

In a widely circulated video, Governor Bago expressed disappointment with the services provided by the commission, particularly highlighting inadequate accommodations for ‘Tent A’ pilgrims from Nigeria, which included state governors and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.

Governor Bago who disclosed that these government officials had arrangements made through private tour operators, criticized the handling of the 2024 hajj, labeling it a failure due to these perceived shortcomings.

In response, Jalal Arabi, Chairman of NAHCON, defended the agency’s performance, describing the exercise as successful. He emphasized that NAHCON successfully averted previous issues such as pilgrims sleeping under bridges in Muna, highlighting improvements made over previous years.

Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State has strongly advocated for the abolition of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), accusing the agency of overstepping its regulatory role and failing Nigerian pilgrims.

In a critical statement, Governor Bago highlighted several grievances regarding NAHCON’s handling of the 2024 hajj operations.

“We have failed and continue to fail. NAHCON is supposed to be a regulator and not an operator but it has continued to play the part of operation and therefore failed pilgrims,” the governor stated, expressing concern over NAHCON’s management of feeding, accommodation in Madinah, tents in Muna, transportation, and healthcare services.

Governor Bago lamented the allocation and management of the N90 billion subsidy allocated by the federal government for this year’s hajj, urging for a thorough investigation into NAHCON’s financial practices.

“As a state governor, I propose leading a committee of governors and the NGF to abolish NAHCON. The federal government should not be burdened with hajj issues; this is a local government matter,” Governor Bago emphasized, advocating for state governments to independently organize pilgrimages with private sector agents, akin to global practices.

He highlighted the embarrassment faced by Nigerian governors and the Speaker of the House of Representatives due to inadequate accommodations provided by NAHCON, underscoring the urgency of reform in hajj management.

“People will say it is because governors have been affected. Yes, we have been affected, but it is an opportunity for us to change the narrative,” Governor Bago asserted, underscoring the substantial sum that could have funded UBEC’s operations for four years.

He criticized the disparity between the funds paid by pilgrims and the meager allowances received, labeling it as unjustifiable and highlighted the need for transparency in financial transactions.

In response to Governor Bago’s remarks, NAHCON Chairman Jalal Arabi emphasized the importance of constructive dialogue and understanding, acknowledging the governor’s concerns.

He clarified that the agreed Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) was $500, but currency fluctuations necessitated a reduction to $400 during disbursement.

Arabi emphasized NAHCON’s role as a regulator and pledged to address operational challenges, promising to engage stakeholders to rectify issues arising from the hajj operations.

The exchange underscores ongoing tensions between state governments and NAHCON, signaling potential reforms in the management of pilgrimage affairs to ensure accountability and efficient service delivery.

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