By Al-Amin Ciroma
(Published in LEADERSHIP Newspapers, July 3, 2009)
In continuation of this discussion, I receive a lot of reactions. A friend forward to be an article, which was published some few years ago by Dr. Kabiru Isa Dandago of Bayero University, Kano and I find it interesting to share with my readers. The Hajj authorities would also find it challenging. After going through it, I extract some relevant points on the subject matter:
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), being the supreme body responsible for smooth conduct of Hajj exercise in Nigeria, it work hand-in-hand with States' Pilgrims Welfare Boards (SPWBs), the relationship between the apex body and the state regulatory centres, could be seen as that of principal and agents. Therefore, both parties should share success or failure together, using a sharing formula they should have developed by now. In other words, none of the two should take the whole blame or failure.
However, the authorities, over the years have consciously or unconsciously established, or have given room for the establishment of some "traditions" in the Nigerian Hajj affairs. Some of these "traditions" are vey much competing with the established Sunnah of the holy Prophet (S.A.W), in terms of rigours, and some are, to say the least, demoralizing, dehumanizing, anxiety creating and energy sapping.
Now, let's study some of the firmly established "traditions" of the Nigerian Hajj authorities:
*Sleeping at Hajj camp/Airports: It is a well-established "traditions" of the Hajj authorities that, when pilgrims are called to Hajj camp for screening and airlifting to the Holy land, the pilgrims must pass at least a night at the camp or airport, some will sleep for two or more days, depending on the situations. They would be kept waiting in the queue for collection of their Hajj passports or immigration/NDLEA screening, on the queue for obtaining boarding pass or on the queue for final boarding of the aircraft. This "traditions" simply renders the pilgrims dishonourable.
*Scramble to board vehicles: For fear of becoming leftovers, due to scarcity of space in vehicles (including aircraft being board to and from Saudi Arabia) and poor management of the boarding process, Nigerian pilgrims are known to be impatient scramblers when it comes to boarding vehicles. The "traditions" is more embarrassing while boarding buses to Mina, Arafat or Musdalifah, where you would see some male pilgrims would be scrambling to jump to the top of the buses exposing their private parts in the process. This "traditions", therefore is the product of incompetence, selfishness and greed and carelessness from the part of the leaders/rulers.
*Re-renting same houses: It has apparently become an issue. The government at all levels would send delegations to rent houses for pilgrims, which they will later claim to have rented fine houses and that the houses are close to al-haram. When pilgrims reach Mecca or Medina, however, they would fin themselves in the same dilapidated but renovated houses rented for them the previous year. This "traditions" suggests that the trip is a means of earning estacode for the team members.
Again, as the closer a house is to al-haram, the more expensive is its rental; the "traditions" also suggests that the team members must be making some 'windfalls' as they rent cheaper houses than the ones they claim to rent for the pilgrims. On investigation, you would learn that the amount being released for accommodation is more than enough to secure those fine hotels and houses close to al-haram for the pilgrims.
In conclusion, these are some of the "traditions" being masterminded by our Hajj authorities, for example, Nigerian pilgrims, upon arriving at the Jeddah Airport, after too much anxiety at Mecca or Medinah, could likened to a refugee camp, knowing full Nigerian pilgrims are bound to observe this "traditions", the Jeddah airport authorities, have set aside a place, popularly known as 'Ajegunle' for them. These are challenges on the Hajj authorities in Nigeria. We need to counter them in order to make it history.