Regional News of Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Source: Mohammed Saani Ibrahim

Hajj Board organises maiden thanksgiving service

Sheikh IC Quaye Flanked Imam Sheikh I.C Quaye flanked by National Chief Imam and Alhaji Ibrahim Adjei

A thanksgiving service has been organized by the Pilgrimage Affairs Office of Ghana [PAOG] under the chairmanship of Sheikh Ibrahim Coffie Quaye to give glory to the Almighty Allah for a successful 2017 Hajj.

The service, the first of its kind in the history of Ghana was to also express appreciation to the Akufo-Addo led government for its support to the 2017 Hajj Board that led to the success of this year’s process.

The program that took place in Accra which was graced by the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr. Nuhu Osumanu Sharubutu, the ten regional Imams, Muslim Chiefs and opinion leaders was preceded with a Quran recitation.

The maiden thanks giving service also brought together the pilgrims, traveling agents, Muslim clergy, academia, security service, opinion leaders and the media for the first time on one stage after a Hajj process.

Delivering his address, Sheikh I.C Quaye expressed the Board’s appreciation to both President Nana Addo and Vice President Bawumia for the tremendous help offered to his outfit saying, ‘This year’s Hajj process wouldn’t have been a success without the indelible impacts of the two leading gentlemen of the nation’’.

He indicated that the efforts put in was also government’s way of showing appreciation for the support given them by Muslims during the 2016 electioneering period that brought the ruling New Patriotic Party [NPP] to power.

According to him this year’s Hajj process achieved the objectives and aspirations of the President which is to make hajj process better and easier for the people. To this end he lamented on the elimination of late submission of passports to the Saudi Embassy in Accra that often leads to delays in visa clearance.

This had left the Saudi Ambassador to Ghana with no option than to commend the Hajj Board on its new mechanisms and methods of transacting business with the Embassy unlike in previous years where the process was cumbersome.

"The significant improvement in the processing of passports and visas for would-be-travelers was not comparable to any hajj organization in Ghana which completely eliminated the perennial uncertainties associated with hajj operations previously,” he said.

The Board was able to block certain loopholes that had bedeviled the hajj process for long, thereby making it impossible for unscrupulous members within the Board and the public to penetrate and cheat for their parochial interests.

He used the opportunity to distanced the Board from the illicit activities of those who tried to cheat but were exposed by the transparent system put in place and are now been investigated by the police for further actions.

History he said was made as Ghana was credited as the first country in the world to pay its hajj fees including all service providers in Saudi Arabia this year. This is a regulatory requirement for clearance by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj Affairs in Mecca.

Unlike previously when some would-be-pilgrims were either not airlifted or denied entry into Saudi Arabia, this year all the 6,400 pilgrims who fully paid their hajj fees were airlifted to the Kingdom and that not even a single person was denied entry.

The former Greater Accra Regional Minister further thanked MTN Ghana and Unibank for their efforts in facilitating the hajj process and procedure which culminated in the realization of their objectives.

On his part, Alhaji Ibrahim Agyei, an Executive Assistant from the Office of the President applauded the Pilgrimage Affairs Office of Ghana [PAOG] for conducting a smooth, easier and successful hajj process this year.

He also commended the efforts of all hajj stakeholders including traveling agents, pilgrims, the Ghana Immigration Service [GIS], Office of the Chief Imam, the security service, political parties and the media for their various roles in the success of the process.

He believes Allah; the Almighty has accepted the prayers of all the pilgrims and was hopeful next year’s process would be easier, smooth and better.

He called on Muslims to coexist peacefully with other religious bodies and contribute their quota towards the socio economic development of Ghana.

Muslims must also pray and support the agenda of the Nana Addo and Bawumia led government to succeed for the betterment of all the people.

The Hajj Board also called on all pilgrims whose luggage were left in Saudi Arabia due to the non-availability of air carriage space to visit the Hajj Village with their passports and receipts for identification and collection.