Hajj fare: Group applauds Kano, Katsina transparency on fare refund
A civil society organisation, the Independent Hajj Reporters (IHR), has expressed satisfaction with the model adopted by Kano and Katsina States Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards for the refund of 2020/2021 hajj fare to intending pilgrims.
National Coordinator of the hajj reporters, Malam Ibrahim Muhammed, made the commendation in a statement issued and made available to journalists.
The IHR, a foremost media outlet that report hajj and umurah activities, had earlier requested for information from some selected states to provide details of Hajj refunds for 2020 and 2021 to pilgrims who could not embark on the spiritual journey due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Although, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) had directed state hajj handlers to refund any intending pilgrim willing to collect their hajj deposit after the cancelled pilgrimage, IHR had embarked on the exercise to encourage transparency and accountability in the management of pilgrim’s funds and to support the present administration’s open policy on public finance.
According to IHR statement: “IHR is particularly impressed by the display of open transparency in paying back the intending pilgrims of Hajj 2020/21 by Kano and Katsina states Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards.
“It is noteworthy that Kano and Katsina states were not in the first batch of states where FoI letter was sent to, yet the leadership of both boards promptly released details of Hajj 2020 and Hajj 2021 refund exercise to the general public.
“Kano State Muslim Pilgrims Board began payment of refunds immediately Hajj 2021 was cancelled and periodically gave updates on numbers of pilgrims that applied for refund, numbers of those refunded, amounts and exact number of pilgrims that rolled over their deposits. Such displays of transparency deserve our commendation.
“The Kano State board, under the tutilage of Alh. Mohammad Abba Danbatta, constituted a refund monitoring committee that comprises of security agencies, media and representatives of the state government to ensure transparency and accountability in the refund process. Out of over 5,800 intending pilgrims, about 2,300 have so far show interest and had since received their deposits through check.”
Further, the release noted: “Katsina State pilgrims board adopted pre-verification method by pasting names of pilgrims and amount they paid in each zonal office prior to effect the refunds – a measure meant to discourage shortage of payment.
The Executive Director of Katsina State Pilgrims Welfare, Alhaji Suleiman Nuhu Kuki, had on August 20, released details of its refunds to the general public through a press conference.
“Therefore, Katsina State Muslim Pilgrims Board demonstrated openness for highlighting the number of registered pilgrims for Hajj 2020 and Hajj 2021, gave details of amount refunded to pilgrims in three batches, numbers of pilgrims that were refunded, and established different committees to oversee the refunds and submitted separate reports as per each batch.”
IHR noted that such open policy of transparency and accountability demonstrated by the two states, will provide the needed trust and confidence in Hajj administration by prospective pilgrims who may wish to roll over their funds to Hajj 2022.
The group was particularly excited with the details of the refunds made by the Executive Director of Katsina State pilgrims’ board, Kuki, noting that the refund exercise was carried out in three batches.
It said: “Nuhu Kuki said the board refunded N407,834,977 to 331 intending pilgrims in the first batch, with N176 million released to 134 intending pilgrims in the second batch, while N77,330 million was paid to 63 intending pilgrims in the third batch.
“Giving further breakdown, the executive scribe said the board registered about 2,721 intending pilgrims for both 2020/2021 Hajj exercise, out of which 508 intending pilgrims made request for refund, totaling about N661 million.”