The Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, AHUON, has rejected the call that hajj operations in Nigeria be returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The National President of the operators, Abdulfattah Abdulmajeed, gave this position on Wednesday in Abuja at a National Training Workshop for operators with the theme: “Hajj, Umrah and the Policy Challenges: The Way Forward”.
The workshop was organised by AHOUN in conjunction with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON.
The Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Khadija Abba-Ibrahim, had last week appealed to the National Assembly to return control of NAHCON to the ministry for proper coordination.
The commission is presently under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.
Mrs. Abba-Ibrahim made the appeal when members of the House of Representatives committee on Nigeria-Saudi Arabia Parliamentary Friendship and Hajj Affairs, led by its chairman, Abdulahi Balarabe-Salame, visited her.
She explained that Hajj Commission used to be under the control of the ministry before it was taken to the presidency.
Mrs. Abba-Ibrahim said: “by tradition in diplomatic cycle, a country does not relate with sub-organ of government but the state through Foreign Affairs Ministry”.
However, AHOUN President on Wednesday argued that the emergence of NAHCON in 2007 sanitized hajj and umrah operations in the country.
“The suggestion that hajj and umrah industry be returned to the Foreign Affairs Ministry is not only out of tune, but totally unacceptable,” Mr. Abdulmajeed said.
He said the events leading to the establishment of NAHCON are well-known and fresh in operators’ memories, adding that “pilgrims are no longer stranded and deadlines set are met”.
He said the workshop was put in place to update members of the association not only in hajj and umrah affairs, but also in the global travel and tourism industry.
The Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammad, commended the association for cooperating with the commission, saying the achievements of the commission were due to such collaborations.
He also said that the activities of the operators were being closely monitored and evaluated to ensure quality service delivery to the pilgrims.
Mr. Muhammad urged them to key into the commission’s breakthrough in accommodation, especially in Medina.
He further urged the operators to honour PENCOM regulations, warning that the commission would not relate with any of them who fail to comply with the regulations.