COVID-19: Hajj, Umrah operators records losses – Official

The Association for Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, says it has recorded losses sequel to the suspension of pilgrimage by the Saudi authorities occassioed by coronavirus crisis.

Abdul’Aziz Halliru, Kano Zonal Chairman of the association, told newsmen on Tuesday in Kano that the pandemic negatively affected their operations and exposed its members to immeasurable loss.

Halliru called on the Federal Government to expand the scope of the N50 billion palliative  programme initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to cushion the effects of the pandemic on the economy.

Citing the recent suspension of flights to Saudi Arabia, the chairman noted that members of the association suffered loss running into millions of dollars.

Halliru said in view of their contributions to the social and economic development of the country there is the need to involve them in various interventions initiated by the apex bank.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CBN has initiated a N50 billion facility to support agricultural enterprises, businesses, manufacturing, tourism and other sectors of the economy affected by the pandemic.

He said: “we have gone through the CBN N50 billion incentive offer, but we are not all that optimistic of benefitting from it because we have not been consulted.

“The Federal Government should consider our members because we are the worse hit by coronavirus crisis.

“When policies like this are made, our members should be captured considering the amount of turnover and revenue we generate for the Federal Government through our business”.

He expressed happiness over the emergence of a new management of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), adding that they would work with the new leadership to facili smooth airlift of pilgrims to the Holy Land.

“We thank God that the new leadership of NAHCON, it came at a time when we have all the challenges and they have agreed to work with us. We are ready to give them maximum support and cooperation.

“We have held meetings with NAHCON and we have seen a new face that comes with new ideas; and we are ready to work with them,” he said.

He, however, urged pilgrims who had registered before the suspension of the Hajj exercise by Saudi authorities not to panic as measures have been put in place to ensure that their expenses are protected.

“Effective measures are put in place to ensure that those who have booked flights with our members that they are not going to lose their money.

“Once the suspension is lifted, they will make use of their tickets. We are working round the clock to ensure that they will be duly compensated and we are happy that the Saudi authorities are cooperating with us in this regard,” he added

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