COVID-19 has slowed down economic development ― Bauchi Gov

• Says it's difficult for people to perform religious obligations

It has been observed that as a result of the global economic meltdown, which was further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now becoming difficult for the common man to perform religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and Israel for Hajj and Christian obligations.

The observation was made by Bauchi State Governor, Sen Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, who said, “In fact, some have given up the hope of performing Hajj in their lifetime, however the new saving scheme we are launching today, provide a platform to make that dream come true.”

He added: “The new concept demands that an interested person will open a bank account, after which the money will be used for projects such as investment in agriculture, value chain and voted industries, investment in power and energy, education, housing and health and other critical sectors of the economy.”

Speaking at the North-East launching /sensitisation of the Hajj savings scheme at the new Hajj Camp, Adjacent Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport Bauchi on Thursday, Bala Mohammed said that keeping pilgrims fund in the newly introduced Hajj scheme is safe, reliable and free from any manipulation.

He added that besides easing the Hajj processes, it will reduce the chances of redirecting the pilgrims’ funds for other activities outside Hajj operations.

The Governor also said that the Hajj scheme came at the right time when various governments are withdrawing gradually from sponsoring religious activities, emphasising that Muslims will now be better prepared at their conveniences to perform Hajj being one of the pillars of Islam.

Bala Mohammed further said that the newly introduced Hajj Savings Scheme by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in collaboration with Bauchi State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and Jaiz Bank Plc will boost access to finance Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as instill financial discipline among
Intending pilgrims.

He said: “At the individual level, besides generating returns for the depositors, Hajj Saving scheme is believed to introduce such level of financial discipline and savings culture for the enrolled members and the generality of our people, especially those living in the rural areas,” he said

Earlier In his remarks, the Chairman/CEO, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Alhaji Zikirullah Kunle Hassan said that the Hajj Saving scheme was designed to ease the cost of a fare to the holy land, adding that the choice of Bauchi state as host for other states in the North East did not come as an accident but a decision that was carefully made.

According to him, because of the numerous contributions made to Hajj administration by the State Governor, Bala Mohammed who has a long-standing history of working behind the scene on the frontline for Hajj matters.

Kule Hassan said that “It is on record that the newly constructed Hajj modern camp by Governor Bala Mohammed is first among its kind in terms of the state of the Art facilities and is ranked the best in Nigeria for now.”

He added that, “We are also indebted to Governor Mohammed for the allocations of hectares of land to the Commission right in the heart and centre of Abuja when he held sway as the Minister of the federal capital territory and provision of a well-furnished office for our newly created outreach in Bauchi”

The NAHCOM Chairman added that “let me reiterate that fact the introduction of the Hajj Saving scheme by the current board was premised on our abiding belief that for Nigeria Hajj management to be on the same page with other Islamic nations and in particular the digitalisation of Hajj by Saudi Arabia authorities, the commission has come up with an alternative payment system.”

“The idea which has been on the front burner for over a decade for which the previous board decided to build the foundation, has now become the cornerstone,” he said.

While making a presentation on Hajj Saving scheme, the Managing Director of JAIZ bank, said that with the Hajj scheme, intending pilgrims who do not have the wherewithal, can do so by saving gradually, adding that they do not have to sell thier personal belongings any more to pay for Hajj.

He listed the benefits of the scheme to include advance planning in feed, accommodation and flight schedules, offers subsidy in future reduction in Hajj fares, job creation through the establishment of branches, aligning the entire system to the global system amongst others benefits.

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