Though, the Lagos State government inaugurated 11-man committee for the 2019 Haj, it seems that either by omission or commission, Ikorodu representatives have been left out in the committee. Many people are wondering why the Ikorodu division, with large political electorate (second largest in Lagos) with huge numbers of Muslim faithful, would not have any representative member in the 2019 Hajj Committee. On the other hand, opinion leaders are happy about the appointment of the new Chairman of the 2019 Hajj Committee, Alhaji Jebe Abdullahi Kolawole, a man many described as a perfect choice due to his experience, competence, friendly disposition and encyclopedic knowledge of Islam. Alhaji Jebe has served under the chairmanship of Hon Oyinlomo Danmole, the former Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture during the Babatunde Fashola administration and on several other committees.
A huge relief came to Muslim faithful in Lagos who are preparing to embark on the 2019 Hajj pilgrimage to the holy land in Makkah, as the Lagos State Government pledged to refund N141, 000 each to the 2, 234 beneficiaries in the state. The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, made the disclosure while inaugurating an 11-Man Committee for this year’s Hajj at Alausa, Ikeja, on July 4, 2019. He said that the first batch of pilgrims would leave on July 10. The Deputy Governor Dr. Hamzat, who inaugurated the committee, urged the members to see to the welfare and safety of the 2,234 pilgrims and also ensure that the entire pilgrimage process is performed peacefully.
Though. the National Haj Commission (NAHCON) has asked states boards to refund N51, 000 to each pilgrimage across the country, the Lagos State Government has pledged to refund the sum of N141, 000 to each Lagos pilgrim.
The announcement came as relief to the pilgrims who have raised concern on the high Haj fare this year. It was alleged that each pilgrim has paid N1.4 million, a total package for the holy trip to Saudi Arabia. The development followed the review of the cost of the pilgrimage by the commission, which led to the reduction of the fare already paid by the pilgrims across the nation. The news of the refund was disclosed on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 by Amir of Lagos Haj Delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Lateef Abdul-Hakeem, during the orientation organised for pilgrims in the state by NAHCOM.
He said: “We usually make intending pilgrims pay deposit of the total fare. So, whenever the National Haj Commission prescribes the Hajj fare, we always ask pilgrims to pay more. But this time around, what they paid was far above what they should pay. We have to refund the money to the pilgrims. It is their money and we have no right to appropriate their money.”
Refunding the pilgrims of the excess, Alhaji Abdul-Hakeem said, this shows that the government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has zero tolerance for corruption, adding that Lagos would be paying back an amount far above what other states would refund because Lagos pilgrims paid more than their counterparts in other states.
The seminar venue erupt into rapturous cheering and applause to the state government as those present chanted the Governor’s praise, “Sanwo-Eko!” and praised God “Allahu Akbar!.” The Governor, who was ably represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs. Folashade Jaji, commended the Pilgrims Welfare Board for their good delivery over the years. He said; “it has over the years become a point of reference in the organisation of pilgrimage and welfare of pilgrims.” He hailed the leadership of the Home Affairs Ministry and members of the board “for the marvelous job they have been doing over the years and for organising this pilgrimage seminar as a platform that will afford us the opportunity of discussing relevant issues, exchanging ideas and offering prayers to Allah for a successful journey to and from the Holy land.” He advised the pilgrims to obey the laws of Saudi Arabia, be orderly and avoid negative tendencies capable of tarnishing the good image of the state and the nation.
Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaimon Abou-Nolla, advised the pilgrims to be patient and obey the instructions of the boards’ officials in Saudi Arabia. “When you are going to a foreign land, you need a lot of knowledge about that country so as not to run afoul of their laws. The pilgrims have to be law-abiding and follow the rules and regulations guiding hajj rites,” Sheikh Abou-Nolla said.
Appointment of Jebe Abdullahi Kolawole as chairman, a lesson for all of us
The scriptural anecdote which says ‘the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ is still very much applicable to our contemporary society. The recent appointment of Alhaji Jebe Abdullahi Kolawole as the Chairman of the Lagos State 2019 Haj Committee is exemplary. Many may ask why Jebe’s case is so special. But a brief account of his efforts and contribution to the state hajj in the past will convince every interested reader.
Alhaji Jebe has been a devoted Muslim who is always concerned about the affairs of pilgrims for over a decade now. He was always at the forefront of organising committee every year, notably under the chairmanship of former Commissioner for Home Affairs, Alhaji Oyinlomo Danmole during the Babatunde Fashola administration. Alhaji Jebe impressed the state for his unreserved effort to the state delegates. He has never for once relented in giving support to religious wayfarers in the state. His recent appointment is highly cheered by many who have witnessed his organisational prowess in the past. Alhaji Jebe is a competent, well-educated and versed in Islamic studies. Over the years, his friendly disposition has endeared many to him and many adored his personality.
While Jebe’s appointment is widely embraced by many is the way he was treated a few years back. Records have it that in spite Jebe’s candid efforts, the emergence of Alhaji Abdul-Lateef AbdulHakeem as the Amirul Haj of Lagos relegated him to the background and even frustrated his move to participate in the affairs of Haj couple of years ago. It was stated that Alhaji Abdul-Lateef went as far as turning down registration fee of Jebe during the previous Haj with Lagos State, he was forced to apply through a private travel agency.
According to source, Jebe’s Haj registration fee was refunded under the directives of the Amirul Haj for no genuine reason. In spite the undeserved treatment against him, Jebe did not make any rouse nor did he raise alarm but beared the harassment in silence. A source who pleaded anonymity said if the 2019 chairmanship position was to be determined by the Amirul Haj, Alhaji Jebe would not have been appointed, but as Allah would want it, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Hamzat, was directly involved in the selection process and it was conducted based on merit. That is how the well-deserved Alhaji Jebe emerged the Deputy Governor’s pick.
Unconfirmed source told the Oriwu Sun that Abdul-Lateef was not aware that the committee would be set up until that day, otherwise, he would have omitted Jebe’s name from the list and denied him the appointment. Many pilgrims from the state, who are familiar with the annual travelling arrangement, are wondering how the Amirul Haj will relate with the new chairman he has treated unfairly in the past. The question is, will the Amirul Haj relate with Jebe as partners or will they work independently during the trip? Will the Amirul Haj maintain his nominal role of just visiting the Lagos pilgrims in their camp in Makkah or get actively involved in co-running their affairs with Alhaji Jebe, the effective chairman of the committee?
To some observers, patience comes with a reward at the end, especially to those who have pure heart. Alhaji Jebe’s recent appointed is a clear reminder that good virtue in our society is still been rewarded, though it may take time, it will prevail at last.