As against how the state pilgrims board was administered in the past, its a new lease of life under the new board. HAMIDU SABO reports.
It’s true that every genuine and sincere charity begin at home, just as it’s also true that truth and virtue go hand in hand. To him who has both, it is a matter of time, society would reckon with such virtues. This is one of the attributes that can be found in every leader and such is true especially with current developments at the Katsina State Pilgrims Board.
For instance, the open policy towards administering the affairs of the board within the last two years especially with the appointment of Alhaji Suleman Nuhu Kuki as its executive director speaks for itself going by the accessibility, easiness and softness of the new leadership saddled with that responsibility.
Unlike the former leadership of the board, the current board has made everything accessible to each and every intending pilgrim ranging from payment to registration and preaching.
Investigation shows that presently many people acknowledge that the old story has completely changed going by recent developments as openness adorns all operational aspects of the board.
And as the saying goes that early preparation prevents poor performances, looking at the present scenario in Katsina Pilgrims Welfare Board, it can be concluded that improvement is the first priority of Kuki particularly with the front payment of salaries and entitlements of each staff without delay or flimsy excuses, a development that had persisted for good years running now.
Beside the prompt payment of staff salaries, it was found that each worker in the board is accessible to the executive director and given the freedom to discharge their duties. To that extent, the principle of separation of powers is evident in the style of administration from the rank of messengers through to directors.
A staff who did not want his name mentioned told Blueprint that, “Here now, I feel so free because I can discharge my duties without any interference from anyone above me. I collect my salaries in good time, we equally work together like one family unlike before. Right now, even visitors can testify that things are in good shape in the board.”
Collaboration with stakeholders
Interestingly, the determination to start the operation of lesser Hajji (Umrah) to Saudi Arabia has added value and respect to the new management and the acceptance of his Excellency, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, which is a clear indication that Kuki is moving in the right direction. Even though the onset of Covid-19 did not allow the Hajj exercise to Saudi Arabia all these while, but with the ease of Covid and travel restrictions, Kuki and his management team have been gearing up to perform a successful Hajj operation to the Holy land.
Also just recently, Kuki announced that the board had an interface with the chairman and team of Al-Rufaqa Travels and Tours Limited, a private hospitality and tour guide firm, on the takeoff of Umrah exercise coming up for the first time in history of the board.
Precisely, he said the meeting was aimed at addressing gray areas in the agreement towards ensuring a smooth conduct of the exercise. That was not all, he equally gave details of how the management of Max Air, a private air carrier, indicated its strong interest in partnering with the board towards achieving its dream for the intended lesser Hajj operation from the state.
State government satisfied
At the same time, the state deputy governor, QS Mannir Yakubu on an occasion said recently that in line with the request of the Hajj Commission, Governor Masari has granted approval to Katsina State Pilgrims Board to operate the newly-introduced Hajj saving scheme. He said the scheme offers intending pilgrims the choice and opportunity to save and plan for the Hajj in a stress-free manner while also serving as a gateway to many investment opportunities.
More so, Mannir pointed out that the scheme is technology-driven such that would serve as avenue to provide the much-needed answers to the board’s working and methodology, including the responsibility of all the stakeholders that form part of the smooth conduct of the routine operation of the scheme. Mannir therefore indicated that Section 7 sub-sections (1) of NAHCON act empowers it to establish, supervise and regulate a system of Hajj saving scheme to be operated by the pilgrims welfare Board of each state. Mannir testified that all those were achieved under Kuki-led management.
Transparent refund exercise
Of more interest is the fact that despite the cancellation of Hajj exercise twice due to COVID-19 pandemic precisely in 2020-2021, the board under was able to disburse over N768.9 million naira to 599 intending pilgrims that sought for refund in the state.
Investigation shows that the amount represents 22.01 percent of the total 2,721 intending pilgrims that deposited their funds with the board. From the available statistics, the board has
recorded depositors with payments ranging from the sum of N300,000-N1,500,000 and all refunds were made to the last kobo.
According to a statement by Hajj Reporters about the level of transparency in the board, “The way and manner the refund exercise was conducted without rancour or complain from the pilgrims shows transparency and openness. It has also added more value and trust to Alhaji Nuhu Kuki in this regards,” the reporters noted. To a large extent, Kuki has continued to maintain his leadership accountability and transparency through his open door policy most especially with the declaration that all intending pilgrims seeking for refund should submit their applications through their respective zonal Offices.
As a matter of fact, he explained to the public that Governor Masari had given approval for those willing to roll over their money to leave their deposit against the 2022 Hajj exercise. He emphasised that all matters would be handled under a signed agreement between the board and each individual while priority would be given to them in the next registration for 2022.
He announced that a committee was inaugurated to study and certify the applications for adequate refund, draw up modalities and effect payment, saying all the certified list of pilgrims for both the 2020 roll over and the cancelled 2021 hajj would be pasted at the zonal offices across the state.
Alhaji Kuki, the executive director attended Kuki Primary School and Government College Katsina. He later attended Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and Bayero University Kano for his Masters and Post Graduate in 2008 respectively. He had served as director of administration and supply at Liason Office, Department of Economic Affairs Katsina Government House in Kaduna. He was at one time the chairman of the State Primary Education Board (SUBEB) and later appointed as special adviser to the governor on science and technology. All these are beside his experience in the state Ministry of Education and Works.
There is no doubt that with his experiences and readiness to serve, Katsina Pilgrims Board would continue to smile most especially in the areas of welfare increase, open door policy fairness and gentle approach to his style of administration.
Indeed with the calibre of Kuki equally on the board, all the managements, intending pilgrims and other stakeholders with Hajj operation would continue to enjoy good leadership and development because he is ready to stir the ship of the state pilgrims in the right direction.