Poor fund transfer system impeding smooth hajj, umrah operations —Operators

THE National President of the Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON), Mr Abdulfattah Adeniyi, has identified lack of effective fund transfer system as a huge disincentive to smooth hajj and lesser hajj (umrah) operations in the country.

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the association held recently in Lagos, Adeniyi stated that with moving about with huge sums of money going out of fashion and being against the spirit of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless policy, any individual who engaged in such an act today might be labelled money launderer.

“There is the need for a window to be opened for private operators so that we can source for foreign exchange and also transact business, which consequently enhances effective monitoring of funds by the government.

“Presently, the Federal Government cannot be guaranteed effective and efficient monitoring of funds because there is no official window through which we can transfer our money and also get our money back to Nigeria. This is a serious issue which we are praying that the Federal Government should look into,” he added.

In his remarks, the association’s General Secretary, Alhaji Kamil Najeemdeen, described the constitution of the executive committee of the association as the hajj and umrah industry’s response to the recession facing the country.

“The recession had a negative effect on every facet of economy. The hajj and umrah industry was not left out. Hajj operations for 2015 and 2016 were severely hit.

“This year 2017 is not a different story. We pray to Allah to ease our affairs and ease our sufferings. Most tour operators incurred huge losses as a result of low turnout of pilgrims after having expended cost on accommodation and other services in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in anticipation of large turnout of pilgrims.

“We give glory to Almighty Allah Who gave us the fortitude to survive the challenges of the stampede incident of 2015 hajj which claimed lives of thousands of pilgrims, including Nigerians.

“We also use this medium to thank all members for their financial and moral support for Alhaji Ajadi’s family. The house under construction, for which the donations were intended, is now habitable for them,” he stated.

According to him, the association has concluded plans to provide a new set of buses, free WiFi and friendly accommodation for pilgrims.