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Sanwo-Olu urges Muslims to embrace Hajj Savings Scheme

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L-R: Chairman of the Occasion, Prof. D. O. S. Noibi (left); Chairman /CEO National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alh. Zikrullah Kunle Hassan; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat; Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, (Prince) Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi; Grand Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheik Sulaiman Abu- Nollah; Commissioner for Finance and Admin (NAHCON), during the flag off of Hajj Saving scheme (HSS) in Lagos.

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, has implored intending Muslims in the state to embrace the newly introduced Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS). He gave the advice during the flag off ceremony of the scheme. The governor who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, noted that the scheme was designed by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to avail less privileged Muslims the opportunity of saving enough money over a period of time when the money would have matured to facilitate their travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fulfill a major pillar of Islam.

He described the lofty initiative by NAHCON in collaboration with the Forum of States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and Jaiz Bank Plc as a welcome development, especially as it was coming at a time that the global economic meltdown is affecting virtually everybody and countries of the world including, Nigeria.

While assuring NAHCON of Lagos State Government’s support for all its laudable initiatives aimed at improving Hajj operations, he appreciated Kunle Hassan-led commission for giving Lagos State the right of hosting the laudable project in the South West zone.

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Sanwo-Olu used the occasion to appeal to everyone to protect themselves against the second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

He said, “As we looked forward to next year’s Hajj exercise, it is pertinent to let our people know that the second wave of the pandemic is being reported around the globe. The disease is still very much around and active. We must therefore ensure that we know our status and adhere strictly to the laid down protocols of social distancing, regular hand washing with soap and running water, using hand sanitizers, wearing of face masks, avoid hugging, hand shake and large gatherings, amongst others.”

Speaking earlier, the Chairman/CEO of NAHCON, Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, stated that the choice of Lagos for launching the scheme was not a mere coincidence but a decision deliberately taken because of historic and special status of Lagos as the first departure centre in the southern Nigeria for the airlift of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, as well as its role as the centre of commerce and host of largest concentration of prospective pilgrims in Southern Nigeria.

He emphasised that the operating of the Hajj Savings Scheme is a historic milestone towards self-financing that would wean Muslims from depending on the scarce government resources which would be utilised for theprovision of infrastructure and other social services in the country.

In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Prof. Daud Noibi, affirmed that the event was a remarkable one. He noted that the Act(2006) that established NAHCON, mandated it to establish, supervise and regulate a system of Hajj Savings Scheme to be operated by the Pilgrims Welfare Board of each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for interested pilgrims.

While stating that the scheme would make the job of NAHCON easier and more effective, as it facilitates better planning and gradual financial independence, he said, “With the launching of the scheme today, we shall have embarked on an empowerment venture that has proven to be viable for countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, whose pilgrims are well known among international community of pilgrims to be well organized.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Lagos state. Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi,noted that the Hajj Saving Scheme initiative wouldhave a positive impact on Hajj administration in Nigeria and also go a long way in creating an enabling environment and avenue for Intending pilgrims to contribute gradually towards the actualisation of their dream of becoming an alhaji or alhaja in no distance future.

The event was as graced by many dignitaries amongst which were Muslim clerics, Islamic scholars, academics and stakeholders in Hajj administration in Nigeria.

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