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Hajj: Senate seeks involvement of states, FCT in airlines selection

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Senate on Wednesday passed for second reading an amendment bill on the establishment Act of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, to pave way for involvement of states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT in the selection of airlines for Hajj operations.

The Red Chamber is also seeking for involvement of States Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards in feeding of pilgrims in Madina and Masha’ir under regulation of NAHCON.

Sponsor of the bill, Senator Abbas Aminu Iya (PDP Adamawa Central) in his lead debate, informed the Senate that NAHCON was established in 2006 to serve as regulatory agency on Muslim pilgrims , overseeing activities of states, Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards, FCT and tour agents.

He, however, queried the practice which allows states Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards handle accommodation and feeding of their pilgrims in Mecca while NAHCON handles accommodation and feeding of all pilgrims in Madina and Masha’ir (Mina and Arafat), which he said creates many inconveniences to pilgrims and affects the commission’s ability for effective regulatory function.

Senator Abbas also drew attention of the Senators to a practice he described as at variant with regulatory role of NAHCON by screening airline companies, qualify them for airlift of pilgrims and go further to allocate the airlines to states.

“This bill therefore seeks to amend Section 4 of the principal act so as to involve states of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory in the selection of airline agencies for Hajj operations as well as allow the states and FCT , to manage accommodation and feeding of pilgrims in Madina and Masha ‘ ir as may be regulated by NAHCON .

“Passage of this proposed amendment bill, will allow NAHCON to carry out its primary regulatory responsibility and guarantee a more efficient , accountable and seamless Hajj operations,” he stressed.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Tahir Monguno (APC Borno North), described the bill as apt and germane, saying “it is wrong for NAHCON to play dua roles of regulation and operator.

The Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Oyewumi Olalere (PDP Osun West) and some other Senators also threw their weight behind the bill, which made the Deputy President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau who presided over the session, to put passage of the bill for second reading to voice votes.

Senator Barau, after the bill scaled second reading, refered it to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for more legislative inputs and report back within two weeks.

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