Sanwo-Olu urges Muslims to embrace Hajj Savings Scheme

GOVERNOR of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has implored intending pilgrims in the state to embrace the newly introduced Hajj Savings Scheme (HSS).

He gave the advice last weekend during Ikeja at the flag-off 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 underprivileged Muslims the opportunity of saving enough money over a period of time when the money would have matured to facilitate their travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fulfill a major pillar of Islam – Hajj.

Sanwo-Olu described the initiative implemented by NAHCON in collaboration with the Forum of States Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and Jaiz Bank as a welcome development, especially as it came at a time that the global economic meltdown was 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, the governor commended the Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan-led commission for giving Lagos State the right of hosting the launch of the project in the South West.

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

He said: “As we look 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 sanitiser, wearing of face masks, avoidance of hugging, hand shake and large gatherings, among others.”

Earlier, the chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, stated that the choice of Lagos for the launch of the scheme for the South West was not a mere coincidence but a decision deliberately taken because of the historic and special status of Lagos as the first departure centre in southern Nigeria for the airlift of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as well as its role as the centre of commerce and host of the largest concentration of prospective pilgrims in Southern Nigeria.

He described the implementation of the Hajj Savings Scheme as a historic milestone towards self-financing that would “wean us from depending on the scarce government resources which can be utilised for the provision of infrastructure and other social services in the country.”

In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Professor Dawud Noibi, former Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), affirmed that the event was a landmark.

He noted that the Act 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 of the federation 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, Professor Noibi said: “With the launch of the scheme today, we shall have embarked on an empowerment venture that has proved to be viable for countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, noted that the HSS initiative would have 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 actualise their dream of performing Hajj.

The event was as graced by many dignitaries and stakeholders in Hajj administration in Nigeria.

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