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That Hadaya Project can be transparent, good

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That Hadaya Project can be transparent, good

 

In 2016, when the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON)), entered the fray of bursting the bubble of Corruption as it affects the payment and administration of Hadaya-animal slaughter-, no one is left in doubt that the task would be herculean.
Perhaps, I need to refresh or whet the appetite of readers on what I’m driving at. Long before the establishment of NAHCON and even some years after, no arrangement for collection of Hadaya was in place. It was an all comers affairs in which not even the state was in charge of. Private people collect money from pilgrims under the pretext that they would pay for the Hadaya on their behalf only to disappear into thin air without trace. Neither the meat nor the collector were to be seen ever after.
This practice continued and got to a head in 2015 when some state officials were fingered in both the setting up of the syndicate that engaged in the fraudlent act but also have their hands in all the cooks and jars This became the proverbial final straw that broke the camels back .
Therefore, in 2016,the commission and the management of JAIZ bank PLC, which had just been appointed as representative of Islamic Development Bank,( IDB) for the collection of Hadaya entered into a partnership in which the latter was approved as the sole and official collector of Hadaya payment.
The rationale behind the idea was to counter and eradicate the endemic corruption in the Hadaya project and most importantly to institute and strengthen transparency in the scheme with a view to deliver quality and sustainable service to the pilgrims across the country.
Now three years down the road, an in depth assessment of the partnership expectedly showed some improvements especially in reducing the cases of fraud associated with the collection as well as individuals involved in them but there has also arises new set of challenges confronting the two parties in the implementation of the policy
Some of the problems included the reduction in the number of registered pilgrims from Nigeria due to the country’s economic climate couple with the spiral Hajj cost. It should be noted that in 2016 for instance, the scheme had over 19000 registered pilgrims that paid through the arrangement. In 2017, the figure fell to just over 15.000and to an all time low of just 6000 in 2018.
The parties also identified the lack of cooperation from most state officials as well as placement of Hadaya payment outside the official exchange rate. Investigation revealed that these officials did do due to the fact that they have little knowledge about the arrangement aside the fact that some decided for personal reason to stay aloof so as not to ruffle feathers. It was for these reasons that the two parties embarked on a plan of action to re-strategize with a view to bring a new architecture and work out a new formula to smoothen out the rough edges.
Speaking during a contract renewal meeting, the Chairman /CEO of NAHCON, Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad said that there was need to adopt a new strategy to make the arrangement work smoothly. “We need to improve the relationship and arrangement of the Hadaya collection. Although, you have demonstrated a high degree of transparency, but there are still challenges and the market has not been optimally tapped. ”
The NAHCON boss also reiterated the resolve of the commission to employ drastic measures to block leakages in the collection and administration of Hadaya even if it meant using the ‘carrot and stick ‘ tactics to ensure compliance adding that the commission is unwavering in it’s commitment to rout the scourge of corruption in Hadaya scheme.
Now things seem about to get better with the the decision of the Bank to improve relationship with the states by making them stakeholders in the scheme. In this connection, the state would be encouraged to key into the project through a commission sharing agreement that will reward states on the basis of the number of pilgrims that paid through the bank in each state This arrangement will make the state play more prominent role in Impkementing the Hadaya project.
Another encouraging pact is the pledge by NAHCON to extend the concessionary exchange rate to accommodate Hadaya payment to I.D B just as being done to other service providers in Saudi Arabia so as to bring down the cost of Hadaya and make it affordable to intending pilgrims paying under the JAIZ arrangement. In fact, it is fair to say that so many of the pilgrims that patronize crooks ds so due to the low rate charged by those outlets. For instance, while IDB charge between 475/490 Saudi Riyal, individual or illegal operators collect as low as 200/250 riyal.,no wonder that only a handful of pilgrims paid through the JAIZ arrangement in 2018.
Now with a competitive price expected this year ,it is hoped that many pilgrims will prefer to pay through the officially recognized entity which would be an extremely entertaining spectacle like “a cat thrown among some pigeons.

●Ubandawaki is of the Information and Publication Unit of NAHCON

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