The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), said on Friday that it received discount of over 12 million dollars for the 2017 pilgrims accommodation through direct negotiation with landlords.
The Head of Media of NAHCON, Alhaji Uba Mana, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Mana said that the commission decided to deal directly with the house owners in order to reduce cost of hajj and to ensure that intending pilgrims get value for their money.
According to him, it is the tradition of the commission to inspect and negotiate for better accommodation for pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
“ I have just returned from accommodation inspection from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where we negotiated the price of lodgings and we were able to get a discount of over 12 million dollars for pilgrims.
“ I will say our inspection of accommodation for 2017 intending pilgrims in Saudi Arabia was satisfactory; we were able to bargain and got a fair deal for pilgrims.
“ We make sure that accommodation in Mecca and Medinah meet the standard set by the commission, which is responsible for providing accommodation in Medina,” Mana said.
The head of media said that the exercise was still going on as the Chief Executive Chairman and other Principal Officers of NAHCON are finalising negotiation with other service providers.
He said that apart from accommodation, NAHCON also inspected the catering facilities that would feed the Nigerian pilgrims during this year’s Hajj, saying that Nigerian pilgrims should expect an improved service.
Mana said that during negotiation with caterers, the commission insisted they employ Nigerians who could cook native food for pilgrims to make them comfortable and get value for their money.
“A good number of the service providers have clearly been told to employ Nigerians to cook local food to the satisfaction of the pilgrims.
“I can tell that last year, the commission made sure the meal provided to the commission staff and other pilgrims in Munah were Nigerian food,” he said.
Mana also said that arrangement for transportation and others are on top gear, adding that the commission was only waiting for Saudi to open portal so that the commission could key in.
He said that the Saudi Government had directed the commission to make sure that all preparation for the 2017 hajj were completed and over by the month of Ramadan.
The spokesman, therefore, said that NAHCON was working assiduously toward meeting the deadline by the Saudi Authority with a view to ensure hitch free hajj operation.
Mana expressed the commitment of the commission to ensure that the 2017 hajj operation was far better than the previous hajj.