The Hajj Commission has argued for non-governmental funding of hajj operations in Nigeria.
In its 2014 report, submitted on Wednesday by the 2014 federal government’s hajj delegation led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Abubakar, the commission urged President Goodluck Jonathan to set up a technical committee comprising of Christian and Muslim leaders that will seek ways of running pilgrimages independent of government.
In his remarks shortly before submitting the report to the President, the Sultan listed challenges encountered in Hajj operations.
“A few of such problems could be taken to be the clamour for the self-sustenance of hajj operations in Nigeria, which will make federal government to spend virtually less or nothing in our quest to have an independent hajj operations in Nigeria,” the Sultan said.
He also called for the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report.
“We know about the report of the National Conference… We suggest before the President takes a stand on that.
Maybe he should set up a small technical committee comprising of religious leaders of both Christians and Muslims to see how we can be self-sustaining and independent,” Mr. Abubakar said.
At the National Conference that held in 2014, the confab delegates recommended the scrapping of government sponsorships of pilgrims to Mecca and Jerusalem.
The Sultan advocated for a hajj savings scheme.
“We had mentioned that the Central Bank of Nigeria and the NDIC should be encouraged to fast track the production of necessary guidelines and framework for the establishment of a hajj savings scheme, that is yet to be taken very seriously and we believe if that is done we might have a Hajj commission that is self-sustaining,” he added.
He thanked the President for offsetting the outstanding bill incurred as a result of the hijab issue with the Saudi government.
Mr. Abubakar said the 2014 Hajj exercise was successful in spite of the Ebola scare which prevented the early lifting of pilgrims.
The report, the Sultan said, was put together by a team led by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu.
President Goodluck Jonathan thanked the delegates for coming up with the report and assured them that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, would thoroughly analyse the report and come up with recommendations.
He charged religious leaders to continue to pray for the peace of the country, the forth coming general elections.
“No person who is really religious…can willingly go and kill. We continue to pray for the peace of the country, especially as we face the general elections this year.
“Anytime you open the papers, it is as if the country wants to burn, but Nigeria will surely be safe, Nigeria will surely be united and we will execute the election in the end and this country will surely be a peaceful country and we will all collectively work hard to transform our economy. But you should pray for the peaceful conduct of the general elections and peaceful transition,” the President said.