Senate seeks involvement of states, FCT in Hajj airlines selection, feeding of pilgrims

Senate seeks involvement of states, FCT in Hajj airlines selection, feeding of pilgrims

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

The Red Chamber is also seeking the involvement of the State Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board in the feeding of pilgrims in Madina and Masha’ir under the regulation of NAHCON.

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

He, however, queried the practice that allows states Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards to 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.

Abbas also drew the attention of the senators to a practice he described as being at variance with the regulatory role of NAHCON by screening airline companies, qualifying them for airlifts of pilgrims and allocating 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 the 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 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 dual 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 Deputy President of the Senate Jibrin Barau, who presided over the session, put passage of the bill for a second reading to voice votes.

Senator Barau, after the bill’s second reading, referred it to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for more legislative input and a report back within two weeks.

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